The rise of social networking.Summary: Never before has social media and word of mouth so dramatically shaped the behaviour of businesses in the Gulf, writes Ryan Harrison Ryan Harrison is an author from Brantford, Ontario, Canada of numerous textbooks for the packaging industry. Topics are focused on Canadian packaging laws and regulations.
Ryan Harrison's work includes the following titles1:
The Arab Spring's greatest digital legacy is trust in social media. Even the staunchest technophobe A person who is afraid of technology and does not enjoy using it. See lamer and Luddite. Contrast with technophile. wouldn't deny the impact that sites like Facebook have had on the lives of people in the Gulf. For most, the act of sharing content is shaping the way consumers behave, and subsequently the response from businesses.
More people trust in social networking See social networking site.
social networking - social network sites' ability to make a difference. Organisations that want to remainpopular play a dangerous game if they violate this trust.
"Someone with a thousand twitter A Web site and service that lets users send short text messages from their cellphones to a group of friends. Launched in 2006, Twitter (www.twitter.com) was designed for people to broadcast their current activities and thoughts. followers in the region can be very influential," said Spot On PR director Alexander McNabb, one of the early pioneers of social media for business in the Gulf. "In the last few years people were asking about the return on investment of social media. Now, they're saying if it can bring down a government then what else can it achieve?"
He said from a marketing perspective, nothing can touch the ubiquity of social media. As far back as May 2010, Facebook adoption overtook o·ver·took
Past tense of overtake. the sale of newspapers in the Middle East. Print media had always been the main route to reach potential consumers.
This is changing. Although, there are rules to be obeyed.
"First of all, does the company have a social media policy and guidelines at the HR level? It's now about protecting the organisation from potential misuse or abuse from employees. Also, social media strategies cannot be cut and pasted from global campaigns for the Gulf. The region has very different values around Islam, the role of women and the family," McNabb added.
Traditionally, marketing involved uni-directional strategies like billboards or TV ads. Social media and online participation tipped the scales. Today, users decide what is watched or shared. Crucially, they select who are the good guys and the bad guys in the corporate world.
Review sites that allow a community to post their experiences about restaurants and any kind of entertainment have sprouted sprout
v. sprout·ed, sprout·ing, sprouts
1. To begin to grow; give off shoots or buds.
2. To emerge and develop rapidly.
v.tr. up globally. In the Gulf,
things are just getting going. Saif Al Zarouni, CEO (1) (Chief Executive Officer) The highest individual in command of an organization. Typically the president of the company, the CEO reports to the Chairman of the Board. of one of this new breed of websites, Yadig, said: "The Arab Spring brought a lot of trust along with it, especially around trusting reviews. People started realising how important the internet is to their lives and therefore started using it more."
Visitor numbers to Yadig grew by 200 per cent in the last year. "It's another platform for people to shares their experiences. They want their opinions heard. We've also made it so businesses can get in contact with users that have left negative reviews.
Al Zarouni added: "Business owners that want a good name in the marketneed to realise the power of social media and review sites like ours. Often Yadig comes up on a Google search Google is owned by Google, Inc. whose mission statement is to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful". The largest search engine on the web, Google receives several hundred million queries each day through its various services. before the business you're searching for." Increasingly, consumers are accessing these reviews from mobile handsets. The growth in smart phones and tablets has led to demand for advertising to be scaled down to the smaller screen.
Dilip Kumar Yusuf Khan (Hindi: यूसुफ़ ख़ान ; Urdu: یوسف خان ; IPA: [ju:sʊf xa:n]) (born December 11, 1922), also commonly known as Paliyath, co-founder and CEO of YoSpace International, a mobile digital agency, said: "Businesses, both large and small, are undoubtedly benefiting significantly from the consumer shift to new media outlets such as social networking sites as a way to obtain information. Initially, businesses emerged on the internet with traditional individual company websites. However, as new media has evolved, so has the way companies market via new media.
He added: "Whether you're a small- to-midsized business, a non-profit, or a larger company, the mobile tsunami is here. Every type of mobile usage is on the rise; most notably, and importantly for consumer-facing organisations, mobile web, mobile app and social media usage is growing."
By 2013, it is predicted that more people will access the internet via mobiles and tablets than desktops and laptops. In the last 12 months, customers have ordered more than $1billion dollars worth of products from Amazon using a mobile device globally.
As social media continues to force businesses to adapt, there are certain companies that have a natural advantage, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. Michael Nederlof, CEO
for MENA at marketing services company Aegis Media."When they have e-commerce or can sell direct they're in a better position. So, for instance airlines, hotels, restaurants, insurance or brands that have digital content or services. Plus, you could name banks or firms likes telecom operators."
Nederlof said the biggest advantage with investments in digital is that he can easily measure the return on investment.
"Consumers globally and especially in MENA are spending significant and rapidly growing time online, and when online on social media. With high penetration rates for Facebook across the region we will eventually see that brands will follow consumers like anywhere else in the world," he added.
In times of economic uncertainty, consumers crave trustworthiness in businesses they are buying products from. Selling is no longer a one-way street. There has never been a time in history when word-of-mouth has meant so much.
In the last few years people were asking about the return on investment of social media. Now, they're saying if it can bring down a government then what else can
"Someone with a thousand twitter followers in the region can be very influential."
The growth of social media among the Arab population has been unprecedented in the last 12 months.
The rising numbers are highest among youth between the ages of 15 and 29, who make up around one-third of total Arabs. As such, 75 per cent of the Facebook community in the Arab region belongs to this demographic.
The UAE ranked first among Arab countries with 45 per cent of its population owning Facebook accounts. It is also among the top 10 countries in the world in terms of Facebook penetration.
Latest statistics from Grafdom show that there are 2,054,520 Facebook users in the UAE and 36,841 Twitter users.
AD SPEND GOES SOCIAL
A small but growing volume of marketing spend in the region is migrating towards online and social media. As a result, TV, newspaper and other mediums are losing market share. Digital advertising reportedly accounts for an estimated $150 million - or five per cent - of the $3 billion MENA advertising market.
For small businesses there is a lot of ground to make up. Less than five per cent of SMEs in the UAE are using social media as one of their marketing tools, according to Flagship Consultancy. But an Econsultancy report found recently that 58 per cent of marketers are increasing their digital marketing budgets in 2012.
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