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check oUt What yoUr teenaged child or the neW kid on the oFFice Block is sPending time on online, and there yoU’Ve got Both yoUr challenge and yoUr solUtion. sociaL media pLatforms such as faceBook, twitter and youtuBe are the fuLcrum on which companies can make suBstantive Leap into the future

Qatar today inVited eXPerts Who BUild Brands Using eVerything that social media has to oFFer to giVe their take on What yoUr BUsiness Plan shoUld look like.

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if you think going digitaL is aBout setting up static weBsite, or frequentLy updated fLash-heavy onLine presence, then it’s time to go Back to schooL – or a virtuaL version of it at Least.


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rand building is supposed to be an evolutionary process and is about not putting all your eggs in one basket. Social media has arrived in Qatar and the wider MENA region and it is a game changer. One of the frustrations here in Qatar around social media is that it detracts from decades of traditional media campaigns and spending, and by its very nature of being open and collaborative goes against the culture that exists inside many organisations here. Digital by its very nature is experimental, the playing field has never been more level and there is a plethora of platforms out there. We are all part of online communities, be that personal or business. We, as individuals, are a brand like the companies we work for are brands and managing that brand has never been more crucial. It has never been easier nor quicker to drive awareness of your products and services, hire new staff, embark on better customer services (customer acquisition or simply retention) or drive measurable marketing campaigns and public relations and raise your brand profile than via the rise of social media and digital marketing. New terms have arisen, such as tweets, hashtags, mobile applications, social CRM and this has led to much confusion in the Qatar market also as late adopters have cried ignorance, rolled their eyes and gone back to calling their agency to see how their current outdoor campaign is doing. That is pretty tough really without any real data or measurability. Social CRM is a business strategy. It is not technology, tools or platform. Social CRM can be defined as ‘the business strategy of engaging customers through social media with the goal of building trust and brand loyalty’. Future recall How can the brands we are loyal to today remain the brands that are ahead in our minds tomorrow? Our own experience from our ‘360 degree’ analogue to digital workshops held in Qatar indicate that several things need to change before widespread adoption of social media can take place.

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...the lack of project ownership and leadership around social media in Qatar is a real obstacle to change as, without it, all projects typically stall and die.

First, there exists a tangible fear that needs to be put into context as people inside organisations are frozen into inactivity by social media in terms of its openness and the sheer volume of conversation taking place out there that cannot be controlled. Second, the language barriers around English and Arabic are holding some back. Third, there needs to be a shift in job roles within many companies away from simply being marketing and advertising managers responsible for shouting out their messages. This needs to move towards a better understanding of the role of a social media or community manager willing to spend some of the budget of ‘time’ to join the conversation, building a winning team across different departments and the social media monitoring tools that really deliver powerful data and deeper insights into campaign and brand building performance. Fourth, data governance and analytics are very thin on the ground in Qatar and, as a result, most organizations don’t have the 360 degree view on

their customers. Finally, the lack of project ownership and leadership around social media in Qatar is a real obstacle to change as, without it, all projects typically stall and die. Leaving creative decisions about your brand in the hands of accountants who pick over the bones of projected social media costs, rather than seeing a long-term opportunity is also bad for business and subsequently bad for Qatar. Spending vast sums on mass communications and tactical campaigns and hoping some of it will stick simply isn’t effective, especially when closing the loop with the tools is as easy as 1-2-3. This unfortunately is still the reality for many in Qatar today. Accountability for share of wallet, share of voice and tracking brand KPI’s other than hard revenue numbers just doesn’t figure that highly for many. Brand building is a time of experimentation where social platforms such as Facebook are looking beyond CPM and CTR metrics to embrace new factors such as engagement and amplification. It is also a time where large brand advertisers should be willing to consider social influence as a key media metric.

It’s not about buying technology for that exists in the ‘cloud’ and most platforms are free. It’s about human capital and creating knowledge transfer about social media and how it can be activated, leveraged, understood and then the digital landscape mastered. Some examples of social media projects that really capture the imagination could include the following: l Create some exciting viral videos and posting them on Facebook pages as these are a new and interesting way to build conversations around your brand. Use Facebook flyers to drive traffic to your brand page. l Develop your own branded Facebook viral games and widgets. l Develop some video mash up templates and encourage user generated content to help build your brand. l Create ‘flashmobs’ around your offline events driven by social media. l Build your own bespoke smart phone applications and tailor them for your own industry. iPhone JULY 09

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Leaving creative decisions about your brand in the hands of accountants who pick over the bones of projected social media costs, rather than seeing a long term opportunity is also bad for business and subsequently bad for Qatar


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apps are a fundamental part of the marketing mix today. l Create funny viral episodes online to create brand engagement and crowdsource the ‘what happens next’ and let the audience dictate the direction as using visual comedy and humour is an excellent way to drive brand awareness. l Build a comprehensive library of digital assets by setting up photo-streams on Flickr or a dedicated YouTube channel. l Experiment more with 3D and smaller digital projects instead of spending it all on expensive TV commercials. l Leverage the power of social media for recruitment on websites like LinkedIn where you can not only join but start discussions groups and forums and build brand loyalty whilst reducing costs. l Present the Annual Report on presentations tools like Prezi or Slideshare and allow people to interact with the Company on financial performance.

Develop a Foursquare or Gowalla venue for your brand and allow people to check in and win prizes who are loyal to your brand location. These are just some examples that go well beyond just setting up a Facebook fan page that looks dormant and has little or no interactivity or a Twitter account with less than a dozen followers. This is unfortunately what still exists for many brands in Qatar. The herd mentality exists and that is why it’s important to identify, work with and learn from the early adopters and visionaries who do exist in Qatar and the wider MENA region. They will be part of Qatar’s new networked economy of tomorrow which is set out in Qatar’s 2030 National Vision. However, there is a long way for everybody to go until 2030 and Qatar needs to have brands that are fit for purpose in the year 2010, brands and companies that are embracing rapid change NOW and re-tooling and re-skilling. They will be the true winners of tomorrow. l

The author is Grow’s Digital Director and comes with 15 years experience in working within many enterprise technology businesses and start up businesses. In Qatar, he has been speaking at a series of Grow 360 degree workshops discussing the best practices around social media and mobile solutions for organisations looking at change and brand building. Grow is a Doha-based creative advertising, digital and design agency.

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f you are a company wanting to get on Facebook, here’s the first thing you have to do. Become a person! Act like one. Think like one. Be one. And, be a nice one at that! When I say nice I mean, share your brand nice. Offer your friendship nice. Have something meaningful to say nice. Otherwise, don’t say anything at all nice! Think about your company or your brand for a moment. Your brand has its own unique DNA. It’s got its own set of characteristics and personality traits. It’s got a defined ‘look.’ It has a voice. And if you are lucky, people will know it by name and recognise it. So, defined in the simplest terms, that makes your brand a ‘person!’ Let’s switch gears and think about Social Media. Brian Solis, Digital Analyst, Sociologist, and Futurist, says social media is, in its most basic essence a shift in how people discover, read, and share news, information and content. It’s a fusion of sociology 28

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and technology, transforming monologue (one-tomany) into dialogue (many-to-many.) Now let’s put the two together. By using the tools provided through social media, today your brand has a real opportunity to literally ‘speak.’ To interact. To share. To be asked questions and to answer them. To find friends and get to know them. To find your enemies and get to know them as well. To be criticised and to respond to that criticism. To apologise. To recommend. To grow. To overcome. To give and take. All things considered, that sounds like a pretty good deal to me. The future of all media The Internet no longer works in isolation. Even sceptics now admit that the Internet is the future home of all media. Remember the days when companies thought all they had to do to ‘get on’ the Internet bandwagon was to put a website out there?

By using the tools provided through Social Media, today your brand has a real opportunity to literally ‘speak’, To be asked questions and to answer them. To be criticised and to respond to that criticism. To apologise. To recommend

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Here’s a reality check: those days are long gone. Lots of companies make the mistake of limiting business to finances and the bottom line alone. But here’s the thing: companies and brands are really about customers. It’s about pleasing customers, acquiring new ones, and connecting with them. Social Media is all about connections and information and social media is far more than just Twitter and Facebook. If looked at closely, one will discover that social media is a subset of web, mobile, and electronic tools that help people share and discuss information. These tools pave the way for people to connect with others. Facebook for instance,

is classified as social media because it helps people stay connected by exchanging pictures, status updates, and hobbies. Take LinkedIn, the business social network. LinkedIn is also social media, and has been a tool of choice for millions of businesses and professionals when they want to stay in touch with a business contact, meet someone outside of their network, or research potential employees. Plaxo helps share business contact information digitally. Dropbox helps businesses share and back-up files without hassle. Just in case you thought that wrapped up the social media list, allow me to add Blogs (WordPress, Blogger, TypePad), Microblogging (Tumblr, Brightkite, JULY 09

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The power of understanding: What Nestle didn’t get. Here’s something else. Things that are powerful must be understood. Social media also comes with a new set of characteristics and behaviours. Critical among these is the very active involvement of the audience. Let’s take a look at a brand that didn’t quite grasp that small fact. Not only did they lack understanding, they also lacked ‘netiquette’ and paid a heavy price for it. During March this year, Nestlé, the world’s fairly well loved, chocolate-making giant, put up a (harmless sounding) status update on their Facebook page. It basically said: “We welcome your comments, but please don’t post using an altered version of any of our logos as your profile picture or your posts will be deleted.” Now here’s what Nestlé forgot! When you make yourself a presence online, using social media, what you do in effect is, you start a conversation. Nestlé’s reaction was the equivalent to telling people “You are welcome to talk with me, but do it on my terms.” People’s reaction: “Don’t invite us to talk to you and then tell us what to do!” Nestlé’s response: “Our logo is our intellectual property. This is our page, we set the rules. If you don’t like it, you can leave.” (Well not quite in those terms, but almost!) To cut a long story short, things got ugly pretty quickly. Take a look below to get an idea of how ugly! The problem wasn’t the fact that Nestlé was trying to control the content on its Facebook page. The real tragedy was that they failed to recognise that an altered company logo is a compliment (and a very common online practice), instead of being an intellectual-property theft. They clean forgot that nice people don’t insult their customers. And not minding your manners in a public forum you created for your fans is a bad idea!

Growing your brand and making it shine with the help of social media isn’t an easy process. It takes a great deal of consistent time and effort. Your customers are going to get real with you and you will receive feedback more honest than you ever bargained for. People will talk about your biggest faults, but they will also talk about your greatest strengths. They will tell each other why you are worth it. If you want to use the tool of social media, you’ll discover a

new level of transparency you never before thought possible, and grow a fan base that will want to see you thrive and work to boost your reputation. They won’t be on your payroll but they will be the reason you will fly or fall. If all this sounds kind of hazy to you, let’s keep things basic and go back to the beginning. You want to make social media work for you? Become a person! Act like one. Think like one. Be one. And, be a nice one at that!

Riad Makdessi is Group Creative Director and Managing Partner of ADabisc, one of Qatar’s leading branding, communications, advertising and interactive consultancies.

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ocial media-or the ‘social web’ – is well beyond the tipping point. My 78-year-old father is now on Facebook so he can stay in touch with me more easily. With that single move, he’s more evolved than most brands. You want to reach me, go where I spend my time.

Whole age groups have opted out of traditional channels of communication – television, print, radio– and instead consume their media through the likes of YouTube, blogs, and file sharing sites. Why listen to the radio, when I’ve got enough songs on my iPod to play for the next six months non-stop? Why watch JULY 09

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Hooking the ‘sneezer’ People say that social media is actually word of mouth, but, on steroids! One inherent short-fall in ‘mass media’ is, that there are people out there who can’t be grouped into masses. And those are the people you want to tie-up with. Those individuals are the ones marketing gurus like Seth Godin call ‘sneezers.’ They will first discover your brand. And if they love it, they will remix your brand, advertisements and marketing ideas. They will freely share your messages, if your messages are worth sharing. These people belong to small but powerful communities and will authentically spread what you’re interested in to the rest of their community. Their friends take their recommendations seriously, and so do their friend’s friends. And all of a sudden, your brand has got this army of ‘fans’ who are talking to each other about you. Think about what a smart set of marketers, who used social media as a tool, accomplished with the Yellow Pages Billboard campaign. Last year, Yellow Pages mobilised Facebook users to help them customise 1,000 billboards. An advertising agency launched a series of plain billboards. A special microsite was launched to invite Facebook members to help get these billboards customised. The basic idea was for Facebook users to design their own billboard for Yellow Pages. In less than three weeks, around 60,000 billboards were created by

people who just grabbed the idea and loved it. The campaign was a major hit. Every time a Facebook user created a billboard, his friends could vote on it or directly create their own. This increased the speed of engagement tremendously. As a result more than 400,000 people voted on the billboards and some 60,000 checked out the gallery. Now that is the power of social media!

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Qaiku), social bookmarking (Delicious, Digg), media sharing & streaming (Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, Qik, Livestream) wikis, review sites, virtual worlds, online gaming, podcasts, event sites etc. Smart brands are using social media and gaining. Why? Because that’s where the consumers are. Let’s just drive by some Facebook stats for instance. l Of the more than 400 million active users on Facebook, 50 percent of them log on any given day. l The average user has 130 friends. l People spend over 500 billion minutes per month on it. l By 2013, Facebook plans to have one billion users. My take? They will get there!


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It’s a relationship you’re building. Don’t make the mistake most companies do – building

DeEtte Christie is Head of Online for Vodafone Qatar, where she is responsible for the company’s online strategy including community engagement through social media. An avid web surfer since she first set eyes on Netscape Navigator in 1994, DeEtte has 16 years interactive and guerilla marketing experience developing integrated communication, advertising and promotional strategies for Fortune 500 companies and well-known brands.  Previously, she was Director of Interactive and Direct Marketing for Vodafone Czech Republic. 

TV and have to sit through commercials when I can download it and view it commercial free whenever I want? Wake up and smell the pixels. Your audience is active, multi-tasking, wired and moving away from you at a speed approaching the expansion of the universe. If you’re not already thinking about how to get in on the social conversation, I guarantee your competition is. Social word of mouth generates buzz money can’t buy. To build a brand successfully today, you need to be social. And to be social, you need to let go of your brand. Your audience doesn’t want to hear you talk at them, they want to share, StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, Tweet, and any one of more than 300 ways to tag, talk about, like and friend your brand, products, and services. Your brand’s community will use your logos, mash-up your web content, re-edit your TV spots, PhotoShop your latest campaign and generally act like kindergartners during craft time 32

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when it comes to interacting with your brand. It’s OK. Just take a deep breath and think about what that means from an engagement perspective. Customers taking control of your brand and making it their own. How’s that for loyalty? Don’t underestimate the power of influence and immediacy; the one-two punch social media adds to the brand equation. From real-world to mobile phone to posted on Facebook in less than 20 seconds. Someone didn’t like the customer service they just received or the movie they just watched and with one Tweet that opinion is shot around the globe. A brand manager’s gut reaction is to hit the delete button. Fight that urge. Censor the social conversation and your community will leave you in droves. Instead turn that into an opportunity to encourage conversation; meet the issue head-on and let the community see that you’re actively listening and that you really do care what they think. But be real. Don’t go in with your corporate PR hat on and spout lines from a press release. You’ll be surprised what you can learn.

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very year we see a number of highly creative social media campaigns promoting consumer goods to international audiences. Some of these are successful, some even have unforeseen consequences, damaging the brand they are meant to promote. If you are a regular viewer of YouTube, for instance, it’s likely you have seen many social media campaigns created on behalf of consumer goods organizations. Some of these campaigns have even helped shape pop-culture. Remember Nike’s ‘Touch of Gold’ campaign featuring Ronaldhino’s

amazing digital football skills? What about Cadbury’s drumming Gorilla? Campaigns such as these have shifted the marketer’s purview from traditional advertising placements in print, TV and radio, to new platforms housed on digital devices. Corporate campaigns launched on YouTube, for example, are usually cross-promoted on corporate websites and further promoted through official corporate pages on public platforms like Twitter and Facebook, directing viewers towards the YouTube ads. Without the need to purchase TV airtime, these JULY 09

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Someone didn’t like the customer service they just received with one Tweet that opinion is shot around the globe. A brand manager’s gut reaction is to hit the delete button. Fight that urge. Censor the social conversation and your community will leave you in droves.

a social community around your brand takes time and dedication. It’s a marriage-level commitment. Your audience wants to know you’re always going to be there for them. Let them down and they’ll break up with you and find another brand that will value their participation and respect them in the morning. You can’t just throw a few pictures up on a Facebook page and think the community will take care of itself. Members of the Vodafone Facebook page – all 10,000 of them-are often the first to hear about Vodafone’s new offers and promotions, as well as events. We’ve provided special offers just for our members as a thank you for their support and participation. If you’re ready to commit your brand to being social, then you need to utilise the tools that facilitate the conversation. It’s more than a Facebook page or a Twitter account. Brands that are successful in social media seamlessly integrate the tools that make those conversations happen. Understand how your audiences share and communicate and meet them on their terms. The genie is out of the bottle. There’s no stopping social conversations about your brand. The question is, are you ready to join in?

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Vodafone Qatar integrates social listening into how we do customer service. We use Facebook (www.facebook.com/VodafoneQatar) – along with Twitter and blogs – to listen to our customers, provide assistance, answer questions and engage in conversations about our brand. It’s also a forum to gather feedback about what customers would like to see from Vodafone, such as new products and service improvements. Facebook, blogs, Twitter and more provides us with real-time social intelligence. It doesn’t replace the need for tried and true market intelligence processes, but if you want to know what your customers think about your brand, products, or services right now. Go online and ask them. Believe me, they want to tell you! Companies around the world are realising call centre savings just by going to where customers are already naturally congregating – online, in blogs, and on social networks. Answer a call and the only one to benefit is that single customer. Answer a question online and the answer can help the entire community at-large.


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engaging in online discussions about your brand; you need to build a structure within your corporate communications capability which can rapidly respond to online attacks, including building this into your crisis response plans; and you need to have the ability to develop creative response strategies to mitigate brand damage online.

The author is an Account Director at Hill & Knowlton Qatar. He has an MA in Professional Communications and is a member of the International Public Relations Association.

campaigns are produced at a fraction of the cost of traditional CTV campaigns, thus making the social media platform extremely attractive. The popularity of social media platforms, among consumer goods companies in particular, is evident as much by the campaigns which fail as those which succeed. For every drumstick-wielding gorilla there are a thousand social media campaigns which fail to cut through and go viral. The challenge However, marketing through social media channels has also created new challenges for consumer goods companies. Such challenges have famously caught some organisations by surprise as social media users critique, parody or shame ads and campaigns which are published on social media platforms, often the instant they are published. Unlike traditional ad campaigns, social media, with its two-way communications, puts marketing campaigns, as well as products, under increased scrutiny. People have a far greater stake in social 34

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media platforms than they have in TV stations. What’s more, people do not use social media platforms in order to be marketed to. Take General Motors, for example. Its ‘create your own ad’ campaign resulted in environmentalists stealing the limelight with ads that were anti-GM, using the campaign to promote environmental messages. Similarly, Skittles confectionary launched a Twitter campaign underestimating the power of the platform. Before long, the sweets manufacturer was having to manage attacks against its product published on its own micro-blog. Today, sophisticated consumer marketing involves a great deal of time and money ensuring the right systems and tools are in place to allow an organization to underpin its promotional needs with the need to communicate with target (and even untargeted) consumers. This is to ensure if social media marketing campaigns go wrong – which they sometimes do, organisations are equipped to effectively manage the fall out without loss of brand image.

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t seems not a day goes by without some media comment about the ‘power’ of social media, whether it’s in traditional publications or on-line. The rate of Facebook and Twitter adopters is avidly reported, with current stats at 467,535,560 total users for Facebook and 105,779,710 for Twitter. Sometimes the hype, which can somewhat seem reminiscent of the heady dotcom boom days, makes it difficult to cut through all the noise and the clutter and measure the true value of incorporating social media into your marketing communications plans. As a result, some companies are afraid of getting involved in social media at all and miss out, with the space being filled by their competitors. Meanwhile, a lot of companies do get involved in social media but without a full understanding and a clear game plan, which means they fail to achieve the full value of incorporating this new channel into their marketing

weaponry. It is, however, important to note that not going digital is not an option. The biggest misconception of social media is that it’s all about a new technology that can help you sell; so many companies started using social media merely as a one-way channel to push their products without connecting with their audiences and failed. Social media is ALL about relationships. It is about engaging in real dialogue and building real associations with your audiences. But the rules don’t change – you still need to know who your audience is (and it might mean finding them!), tailor your message to them and deliver it through the right channel. The great thing with social media is you can get instant feedback and continue to tailor your message accordingly to build a stronger affinity between you and your customer. The companies that are most successful at JULY 09

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Marketing through social media channels has created new challenges for consumer goods companies... social media users critique, parody or shame ads and campaigns

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Central to effective management of social media marketing campaigns is the need to communicate directly with consumers who publish comment regarding your product. This communication must be polite, proactive and personal. A recent case study involving Nestle’s Kit Kat product turned into a minor crisis for the company after a clever parody of a Nestle social media campaign was created by Greenpeace. Arguments between Nestle staff and supporters/fans of the parody were played out publicly on Nestle’s Facebook page with some Nestle staff writing aggressive and patronising comments on its forum. The case soon moved into mainstream media, the share price went down, and the company was forced to act, finally accepting that it needed to communicate differently with consumers through social media platforms. The extent of damage to the Nestle brand is yet to be determined from this incident, but one thing we know for sure is Google never forgets. The public spat involving Nestle remains on the public record. So, if you have a consumer product you are thinking of promoting through social media there are some things you need to accept. You need to be always listening for potential criticism; you need to ensure your employees understand the risks to


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incorporating social media into their marketing mix are those that have taken the time to plan an appropriate strategy that is tailored to the audiences that they want to impact. One of the best and most striking applications of social media to date is what was implemented during Obama’s presidential campaign. First, Obama’s social media team listened and observed what was on the minds of the US general public, using these topics to communicate and develop a campaign so they could interact with the people on these topics. The call to action, “Yes, we can,” was built around change and the team encouraged Americans to discuss their thoughts and questions on Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms around this call to action, creating virtual communities all sharing a common desire for political change. It encouraged everyone to get involved in the first truly successful online grassroots movement. The cable, internet and phone provider Comcast is another great example of how social media can help a company increase trust in its brand. Before 36

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using social media, the company was registering extremely low customer satisfaction. Communities such as comcastmustdie.com were formed online to share their complaints and it had a devastating effect on the company’s public perception. The company chose to try and establish a relationship with its detractors in their channel, and established a social media monitoring team that leverages Twitter to quickly respond to customer complaints and offer help. Comcast has turned a corner in terms of public perception and it shows how social media, if used in the right way, can build and increase customer satisfaction. As of 2009, a team of nine employees is tweeting on behalf of Comcast. Dell’s groundbreaking Twitter campaign demonstrates how social media can increase the revenues of a company if used strategically and integrated into overall sales, marketing and communication activities. Dell Outlet online stores sell Dell products at discounted prices, but as inventories fluctuate it is difficult to know when products are available or on sale. Dell uses Twitter as a channel

What this means for Qatar business Although social media adoption in the Middle East is still at an early stage, the region is fast catching as the infrastructure required to support it is rapidly being deployed. With broadband penetration at 84 percent – the highest in the Arab world – and mobile penetration at 169 percent, Qatar has the technology in place to become a social media leader in the region. YouTube is the country’s second most visited website and top social media site, indicating specific potential for visual content driven social media campaigns. Elsewhere in the region, a Gallup poll has shown that between 2000 and 2008, the number of Internet users across the Middle East region grew by 1,176 percent – the highest growth in any region

With broadband penetration at 84 percent - the highest in the Arab world - and mobile penetration at 169 percent, Qatar has the technology in place to become a social media leader in the region.

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The biggest misconception of social media is that it’s all about a new technology that can help you sell; companies using social media as a one-way channel without connecting with their audiences fail.

The benefits Social media is perhaps the most effective medium for generating customer advocacy. If you want to convert your customers/stakeholders into advocates you need to give them a role in your brand experience and social media provides an ideal medium for that kind of activation. Social media is also a very effective tool to improve customer satisfaction as it allows you to talk to your audiences and learn how you can improve your services or products for them. It is a great way to show your customers that you care about them and thereby increase their satisfaction of and loyalty to your brand. Last but not least, social media has a huge potential to drive sales. It allows you to give out a new product, let people test it and provide you with feedback. If you engage in a dialogue with your customers in the right way, you can turn them into advocates of your brand/product who will then recommend it to other potential customers through social media platforms. But what do these examples have in common? Although the media landscape has changed and keeps changing continuously, the general principles of communications still apply. You still need to know your audiences and target them with the right messages through the right channels to establish and sustain a good relationship with them. But social media has a significant role to play in creating advocacy, improving customer service and driving sales.

across the world. This underpins an increasingly active social media market, which is being driven by the high proportion of young people in the region – 55 percent of the population is under 25. Due to high mobile penetration in the Arab region (74 percent penetration in 2009), mobiles are also becoming a powerful platform for media consumption offering a host of further opportunities for social media in the region. Facebook is still the most popular social networking site in the Arab Word, ranking among the top five most visited sites in most countries (8 percent of Facebook users come from the MENA region). Twitter is rapidly gaining popularity in the region, being embraced by consumers, corporations and celebrities. The breakdown of Twitter users in the MENA region is as follows: UAE 41 percent, other

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to send messages on discount coupons, clearance events and new arrival information to those looking for Dell products at a discounted price. Currently, a global team of around 40 employees engages with customers and others interested in Dell via Twitter. As of December 2009, the company has confirmed that Twitter has contributed a total of $6.5 million in sales to its total revenue.

GCC 15 percent, Egypt 14 percent, KSA 11 percent, Levant 10 percent, other North Africa 9 percent. With 61,102 followers, the account Queen Rania of Jordan is ranked number one in the Arab world. While Twitter is a popular tool for people to communicate fast and efficiently, Facebook is more about social interaction, gaming and creating communities around areas of interest. Next Steps – Building a successful campaign Many businesses are still hesitant to fully embrace the digital world. Often, companies prefer to limit their digital experiences to the ones that can be controlled, such as websites, ads and carefully scripted campaigns. Today’s user-generated, highly interactive world JULY 09

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Set firm objectives

First you need to identify the objectives and goals of your campaign. Do you want to increase brand awareness, manage your company’s reputation or promote new products or services.

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A strategic plan for entering the realm of social media will help your brand to best leverage these new media tools and channels. To make your social media campaign successful, you should consider the following key elements when developing your campaign:

c o r p o r a t e

3.

Put a strategy in place

s o c i a l

m e d i a

Once you have clearly defined your goals and objectives and conducted your research, you can start developing the strategy for your campaign. Your strategy is what’s going to drive the use of social media tools. The content of your campaign is key. It is important to make your campaign experience proactive, fun and engaging and not to imitate wherever possible, i.e. you may be using the same channels but your content and approach is what will set you apart from your competitors.

requires a new mindset that allows giving up a certain amount of control – a frightening idea for many companies. It is, however, important to know that while you do give up control in the traditional sense, social media is not unpredictable. Like any media, patterns emerge and cause and effect, and call and response patterns emerge that are both predictable, and often predictive. When you engage in social media, remember to keep in mind that social media

2.

Listen and learn

Conduct your research before you develop a strategy for your social media campaign. Analyse trends in your industry, evaluate your competitors, find out what platforms your customers use and monitor what they are saying about your brand. This will guide you in designing a campaign that resonates with your target audiences

4.

Measure and Analyse

Throughout your social media campaign, you need to measure your results and return on investment, i.e. the engagement and interaction with your audiences. Depending on the objective of your campaign you need to evaluate if you have increased the brand awareness, improved the reputation of your company, or launched a product that resonates with your customers. The results will enable you to optimise future social media campaigns for your brand.

is not about the technology but about engaging in a dialogue with the people using it – your audiences. The general principles of communications still apply. While an advertising approach targeting audiences with a one-way message cannot do more than raise awareness, a PR-based approach engaging audiences in a dialogue is more likely to go beyond awareness to encourage brand loyalty and advocacy, and drive sales in the social media sphere

The author is the Managing Director for Fleishman-Hillard, Middle East.

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Qatar Today JULY 09

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COVERSTORY  

what ’s your social media corporate challenge h h h c o v e r s t o r y

COVERSTORY  

what ’s your social media corporate challenge h h h c o v e r s t o r y

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