When Social Media Starts with Facebook and Ends with Twitter


When it comes to Social Media in the Middle East, there’s more ambiguity than anything. A hundred questions pop up.

- How do people behave differently online in the Middle East ?

- Are the women folks on micro blogs ?

- Are the discussion forums still popular ?

- I thought anonymity was key. Is it still ?

The questions make sense. They’re genuine.

Social Media in Dubai
Picture Courtesy – Hubspot

People behave differently online.

Dubai, is a place where the mobile population is super penetrated. And that too, the Blackberrys and the iPhones. With such a population, the internet penetration ratio is alarming. Well, “promising” might be the right word. Today, all the popular brands are on social media. They have their facebook pages and Twitter profiles. People flock their channels. Its a win-win situation most of the time. Brands are looking for engagement while, people typically gets a lot of gifts, giveaways etc. Popular FMCG brands like Pepsi, Burger King, Red Bull etc have their social media presence in a largely influential way. Even smaller brands are jumping into the bandwagon, making it a bigger mix. And is it really happening ?

Yes and No.

Yes, because, most of the time, when you talk about social media, everything revolves around facebook and twitter. Which is sad. People perceive social media within a small set of brackets. Its not their fault.

What we need is more experiments outside of the facebook and twitter platform.

Wild Peeta, a shawarma restaurant, is a case study about how Location Based Services, like Foursquare can be used to leverage your marketing efforts online. We need more of such stories.

Unfortunately, today’s Social Media in Dubai revolves around winning a trip to the other end of the world, or grabbing a free iPhone if you comment on the facebook pages and the like. Which is good, but quite an old formula that’s stale.

What we need are new ideas !

A cool facebook application. An amazing viral video. A record breaking iPhone application. Those are the things that will put your brand on the hot seat ! Not a facebook page promising a trip to Italy.

We need new execution, new ways of thinking and new challenges.

From a brands perspective, its a lot of risk. To try something that’s never done before. So they take the safe route out. After all, their brand is at stake. Because on Social Media, you get only one chance to hit the button. You either hit it full force, or you make a disaster out of it. Brands understand this.

They’re people who sit on time bombs. One wrong mention and the brands are jeopardized, so they have to be careful.

As for agencies, you got to take risks. You got to to do the undone. Its not impossible, it sure is not easy as well. The idea is to find out what your brand is, what do they need, and what you can offer. Once you have clarity on these facts, its pretty much easy to design a strategy.

What goes wrong when you invert the cup!

Typically, you do it wrong if you approach it the wrong way. If you first think about all the options/tools you have, and then think about strategies you could possibly do with it, then you’re essentially doing it wrong.

The right way is the other way out !

Think about what your target is, what you want to achieve first, what your USP is. And then figure out a strategy to reach them efficiently. You might use one set of tools, but not the other. But the goal is to create a clear-cut strategy that will efficiently use your tools/resources and take you to the target with maximum impact.

Rather, if you first worry about what tools you’ve got, let’s say Linked In, Facebok and Twitter…and then figured out a strategy revolving these, then you’re compromising on the brand’s objectives. You’re compromising on quality.

Having said that, there has been several examples of how social media can be leveraged to market brands in the region. Many of them were efficient and trend setting examples of how brands can harness the power of social media without losing the charm.

Here’s to more of them !

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