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Interview: Social media is not the antithesis of traditional media

social media

The excitement over the potential of social media is similar to kids wanting to be the next Messi. There are very few Messi’s out there. The possibility exists, but very few people make it through the clutter and crowd.

August 14, 2012 11:15 by



Year after year, multinational corporations and SMEs continue to direct their focus onto their social media presence. From using paid ‘tweets’ to hiring social media ‘experts’ to gage and increase their activity, businesses are pinning more hopes on its ability to create an ‘awareness explosion’ for their brand names. One cannot deny the role that technology and social platforms have played on major changes in marketing methods and what with the countless monthly reports suggesting a huge growth of user activity in the region, companies are eager to jump into the whirlpool. However, the cynical side of the spectrum paints social media’s tools as being quick but lacking in accuracy.

On one hand, we have seen how social media, especially in the Middle East, can be a fantastically effective tool for putting out PR fires and blunders and on the other, successful businesses take advantage of the free tools because they understand that it doesn’t end at the sale. Still, many genuinely question its effectiveness in the marketing and advertising industry.

“That is perhaps the wrong question to ask,” says Mohamed ElZubeir, Managing Director at Mediastow, a Middle East media monitoring agency. “We don’t ask how effective a tool a hammer is in carpentry. It’s one of many tools and it depends on the job. Social media is just like any other tool. It has the potential to reach millions at once but also more often than not, doesn’t. Just because you’re in the square shouting your lungs out doesn’t mean anyone is paying attention. The point is, there is an art to engagement, but it isn’t a science.”

That’s true, it isn’t a science. There is no precise rule dictating how you should go about expanding your social name but we cannot shy away from the fact that many companies are frustrated at the speed of its development. Even with many companies hiring social media specialists in hopes that they will, quickly enough, fly high above their competitors, many receive less than satisfying results. The downside of the hype is that the anticipation of social media’s “ocean of potential” has created unrealistic expectations and turned off patience for organic growth.

“The excitement over the potential of social media is similar to kids wanting to be the next Messi. There are very few Messi’s out there. The possibility exists, but very few people make it through the clutter and crowd. That is not to say that you can’t achieve goals, but it would be wise to carefully examine expectations.”

“Having a presence on social media platforms largely depends on the brand in question. Some brands are more visible than others. Some categories are of more interest to people than others. When was the last time you tried to look up Dow Chemical? Mind you, they do have a FB page with 43k likes. Compare that with consumer brands and the picture becomes clearer.”

“Advertising (whether in the traditional sense or in paid/promoted placements on social networks) is part of the marketing mix and is as effective as the campaign is.”



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