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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

     Indeed, the younger group knows what kind of brands it wants to follow. These youth are more likely to search for a brand of their choice on Facebook in order to follow it, and “not be­cause they saw an ad, or heard about it through a friend or on a friend’s profile,” says Goel, who adds that similar behavior can be observed when it comes to discounts and coupons from what Socialize has noticed: “The slightly older audience…will go and join 10 pages which are all providing giveaways with the eventuality that they may want to shop at one of those someday; whereas with the youngsters, if they want to shop at a specific place, they’ll go and look for the coupons, if there are any.”

According to Ibrahim, “For the majority of Gen Zs, the Internet is regarded as both a func­tional tool and entertainment platform. Driving brand affinity may be in the form of personal rewards that make their life easier; such as dis­counts and offers; or status rewards that grant them social fame such as innovative, fun and engaging digital experiences to share or show off to friends.”

That is true of mature markets like the UAE; Ahmed from Integral says that “One of the key findings was that the UAE seems to be a more mature market for brands as active social media users are keen in following a brand, comment­ing and posting their views, whereas in KSA, social media users see social media as a source of entertainment.” In even less digitally mature markets such as Egypt, for instance, brand con­versations are extremely minimal.

“It’s mostly about applications and mu­sic that is spoken about online. But again, for a market like Egypt, where you have low GDPs and low credit card penetration, it’s the relevance of talking about brands online that is the barrier, which is why brands need to give Egyptian youth a reason to connect,” says Ibrahim.

KEEPING IT LIVELY. Despite strong engagement on social media pages, the “like” itself doesn’t always translate into purchase intent. According to the OMG study, even though more than 70 percent agree that social media helps in deciding about brands and products at the point of purchase, less than 10 percent of youth in the UAE and eight percent in KSA agree that following a brand means they will buy it. “A brand can be followed for its inspirational or aspirational attributes and thus shouldn’t be a metric for finances,” says Integral’s Ahmed. “For brands, social media should be about building the community, not marketing any product or brand; it can be used as a platform to show more information which can’t be offered on any other platform. Sales definitely aren’t the communication objective for a brand who is present on social media.”

Brands know that once they have acquired fans, their Herculean task has actually just started. The key is to keep the youth engaged and retain them on their pages. The OMG study results indicated the main reasons UAE youth “un-follow” a brand are because the brand’s page is not interesting anymore, the brand is becoming irrelevant, posting too many updates, and spamming.

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