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LIVING SOCIAL: Why brands cannot afford to miss the social media boat

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Arab youth have a heavy social media consumption and usage. Social media is where brands have to be.

July 13, 2012 3:00 by

Not all youth in the region are open to brands’ messages on social media as the portals are often considered a personal space, and not much of a commercial one. Moreover, other challenges surface when it’s the brand that’s doing the pur­suing – either through engagement or ads on social media.

Dubai-based social media marketing agency and consultancy Socialize has worked on a number of campaigns targeting teens in the region, says founder Akanksha Goel, and one thing she’s learned is that it’s harder to reach teens in this part of the world through marketing communication tactics, than it is to reach the older audience. “Whenever we have done campaigns online we have found that the most engaged audience is between 25 to 34 [years old],” she says. “The only time the below-25 or below-18 year olds tend to get involved is when it’s for night clubs or entertainment experiences, or when there are music concert tickets to be given away and such. If you were to do something online where you say ‘Click here, play this game and win a tablet,’ you’re mostly going to see young executives take part, rather than university or high school students,” she adds. “A lot of that – especially in the GCC – is because most of the interactions that we see are when people are in the workplace. We see engagement drop at night. Especially in the UAE, Kuwait and Qatar, you see very little engagement at the weekends. In this part of the world, most people engage with brand pages or engage with social media for commercial purposes…during the work day. During lunch hour or after lunch [is when] you see a spike.”

For the Gen Zs, marketers have to make sure they have the right level of entertainment. JWT’s Ibrahim says, “These networks, where these youth have the highest number of friends (even higher than global averages), are really a marketer’s or brand’s playground, where brands have a lot of opportunity, but they need to make sure their presence is relevant to what these youth need: [for them to] delight, engage and inform. I either have to give them an interesting piece of content about myself as a brand, or reward them personally through discounts and coupons, or I have to give them the status reward that they are looking for which is social fame.”

According to Goel, in targeting the younger generation, it all boils down to what one brand manager she worked with defined as youth’s main principle when they are online: “Why share? Why care?”

LIKE A SHADOW. Trying to gain active fans is one of the ways marketers are trying to keep their brands alive on social media.

According to the OMG study, the primary reason why UAE youth follow a brand online is, unsurprisingly, the fact that they like the brand. Other reasons include that they’d like to share their ideas and that the brand represents who they are as an individual in terms of their values and lifestyle. Sagar Shetty, co-founder and director of digital media agency Clique Media, adds that one of the reasons youngsters follow brands is that their friends are following it too. Others tend to like being the first ones to receive an update from the brand about its activities, he says.

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