Middle East firms must up the ante on digital marketing
The Middle East holds the lowest ratio of content uploaded on YouTube versus the ratio of content viewed among the major regions of the world. This means there is great opportunity for companies in the Arab world to create marketing content on a website that receives three billion visits a day. The lack of YouTube content from the Arab world presents great marketing opportunities due to the fact that in 2011, it was the most visited social media site in the UAE alone.
“In 2010, Google was the most visited site in the UAE, then came Facebook, and then YouTube,” Akansha Goel, executive director at Socialize, a UAE-based social media and training agency with clients such as Coca-Cola, Samsung and Mall of the Emirates, said. Goel spoke earlier this week at the Murdoch University Women’s Lunchbox event where UAE digital marketing experts debated all things related to social media and brand marketing.
Coke is, in fact, the world’s biggest brand on Facebook with 36 million fans. The company’s fan page grows by one million fans every fortnight. “Social media can help any business unless it’s a very niche B2B company,” Goel said. However, with over 450 social media platforms on the Internet, it is important for companies not to spread themselves too thin. “It’s said that when a tool gets boring for the geeks and nerds, that’s when it starts to get interesting for businesses,” Goel said. “When your mum and cousin start using it, that’s when companies should start taking the risk.” She added it is not worth the time or effort for businesses to take risk on investments in uncertain channels. “It’s not worth investing all your digital marketing budget on Google+ at this point in time because although it’s growing, not everyone is on it,” Goel said.
The latest figures reveal there are over 800 million Facebook users worldwide, with 28 million in the Arab world. Twitter whisked past the 200 million user mark, while LinkedIn lags behind with 130 million users. These growing figures represent huge untapped marketing potential for businesses. “In the Middle East, there are more people on Facebook than the number of newspapers circulated in the region,” Goel said. “It’s easy to increase a brand page’s fans from zero to 1,000; but then the question is what do you do when they get there.” She added the real test of a good marketing manager is what they do with their fans as a poorly managed social media channel can cause serious damage to a brand’s image. “Step one is getting the fans and step two is getting them to come to your store or buy your product,” Goel said. “Essentially, social media channels are just a different platform of communication.”
Gail Potter, content manager at Expat Web Services for the website www.expatwoman.com, added a lot of brands falter in digital marketing by being too pushy or not regularly updating their pages. “It’s about working across the board to keep a consistent voice for the brand, be it on social media, television or in the papers,” Potter said. “Make sure the same engaging message is being delivered across all platforms.”
Pitfalls to look out for
Other social media marketing pitfalls businesses need to look out for is what is actually written in the post. “It can’t be repetitive, everyday it’s got to be something fresh and exciting for people,” she said. “Common mistakes I see are bad spelling, capital letters, broken links as well as company pages that aren’t updated for months or a year.” Potter added it is important for businesses to make sure they have constant access to their social media pages. A change in management or agency, causing an access glitch, could seriously harm the brand.
“Ignoring complaints or deleting negative posts could always backfire, so it’s important to take every single comment on your page positively,” Potter said. “The negative comments are the most important because those are the ones that need to be addressed to change minds.”