Hala Badri, Executive Vice President at du
Participating at TiE Dubai’s panel discussion entitled “Social Media – Its integration and impact on Businesses”, du’s Hala Badri, EVP, Brand and Communications, discussed how Social Media has become a crucial part of today’s marketing mix, shaping consumer attitudes and behaviour like never before, and the influential role it plays in shaping brands and images as well as influencing perceptions. Other panelists included Preethi Mariappan Head Digital, TBWA-RAAD Wassim Moumneh Digital Lead and Social Media evangelist at Pepsico, and moderator Jassim Ali, Regional Director Digital Development, Omnicom Media Group.
Speaking at the session Hala said: “Similar to other international best practices, adoption of social media is accelerating, projecting a significant growth trajectory and imposing a change, an evolution in the way brands are formulated and communicated. Companies have now started adopting social media not only to talk about and promote their products and services but also to create a collaborative interactive and instantaneous platform that fosters strong peer to peer interaction, engaging communication, devoted involvement and fruitful dialogue. Social media’s tools for building bridges, providing access and empowering customers have all contributed to altering the way companies communicate to stakeholders. Instead of the receptive one way communication tools of traditional media, consumers are now given the voice, to engage and be involved at the heart of a brand’s operation and performance.”
“We have taken the lead in finding our customers online and interacting with them in this digital space, dedicating a space for a collaborative interaction, through different popular channels such as Twitter (@dutweets), Facebook, Youtube, and Foursquare,” she added.
Hala brought her invaluable experience as the EVP Brand and Communications of the UAE’s preferred telecommunications operator to the table, revealing her experience with social media as a marketer. “Social media allows companies to listen, acquire market insight and manage their reputations among a digital space that is very much correlated to the off line space. Social media channels offer unique innovative opportunities that enable an informal more personal interaction with customers that is accessible to all. Today best practices and case studies from different sectors have proven that the key to success is consumer centricity. Social media today, not only adds a human touch to your relationships with customers, but also fosters a clear transparent channel of communication that results in increased consumer loyalty. As such, these channels can provide businesses with thorough insights on their markets and consumers. By giving people a voice, allow us, as a business, to hear and see our customers’ needs so we can cater to them more effectively,” said Hala.
With the now impressive dominance of offline media and the prominence of above the line media in reaching and engaging masses, marketing is now moving towards a unique highly-efficient approach of targeting quality audiences rather than going for a large untargeted undefined pool of people. As such, the minority of customers now reached are the ones that can make a difference to a business. With different types of media catering to different population segments, this evolution is bound to bring to marketers a more defined and focused reach.
As the EVP of Brands and Communications, Hala strongly emphasised the crucial importance of building brands that cater to customers’ true needs, wants and desires by enabling open transparent communication channels. “One example of such combination is our digital customer care on Twitter through (@dutweets), a process not available anywhere else in the region. This avenue allows customers to discuss their issues, thoughts and opinions in a free open space with everyone watching. There are no rules, no boundaries, in essence there is freedom of speech that results in the transmission of useful information almost instantly that otherwise would not have been communicated,” said Hala.
However, Hala insisted that such initiatives have to be well supported to be effective. “(@dutweets) follow a well-studied operating model and uses dedicated efficient resources and personnel that monitor and interact with customers online. Testifying to du’s innovative young vibrant image, we have taken the lead in this technology and created the ideal platform to best serve our customers. Regardless of a corporation’s size and nature of business, a successful business is one that is designed to better serve its customers, and what better way is there than to speak to them directly, understand, listen and explain. Unlike traditional phone based customer service, social media brings the conversation to a public forum ensuring all customers feel heard and understood. For us, this process has been extremely successful as all customers appreciate our efforts to reach out and truly please them,” added Hala.