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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

 Socialize’s Goel says humor is always welcome by youth, so incorporating it in a campaign – whether through memes or tone of interaction – can help brands capture the attention of youngsters. “Some of the brands who have good copywriters and good social media teams behind them are not just sharing content in the form of copy and press releases but are starting to create [their own] memes,” she adds.

And Twitter is one place not to be overlooked. Wassim Mneimneh, head of social media at Clique Media, says the 18- to 29-year-old age group, in particular, is more likely to follow a brand on Twitter. “People tend to use Twitter as a client servicing platform as well. If I have any problem with any brands, I’ll just tweet about it instantly,” he says, adding that the region’s high level of mobile penetration has a lot to do with it.

SOCIAL GAMING. Because Arab youth are active gamers, brands increasingly look into advertis­ing on social gaming platforms, such as those on Facebook: according to UK-based provider of social in-game advertising solutions SuperSonic Ads’ research, there are more than 12 million monthly active users on Facebook’s social games in the MENA region (namely the GCC, Levant and Egypt), and “roughly speaking, the UAE is about 1.2 million and KSA is about 1.8 million. The largest single territory is Egypt with about 4 million,” says James Salins, vice-president for business development and brand advertising at SupersonicAds that has recently partnered with Clique Media to handle advertising sales in the Middle East, Pakistan, India and Africa.

Ibrahim from JWT adds that 65.3 percent of Saudi youth plays games online, according to the Arab Advisors Media Survey 2011. “Playing is increasingly being viewed as a shared activ­ity bringing people together. The popularity of gaming and activations with gaming mechanics lies in both the entertainment factor and the social ‘fame’ it generates among peers on social networks,” she explains.

“In markets like Saudi Arabia we have no­ticed that gaming is also a means to self-actu­alization,” she adds. “The games they play the most are games that enable them to do things they couldn’t normally do in the offline world. In Saudi Arabia, you’ve got limited outdoor and entertainment venues.”

But brands need to keep addressing the “Why share? Why care?” principle by providing an incentive to youth. According to Salins, in the Facebook gaming economy, for instance, things work on a task and reward basis. One way gam­ers can be encouraged to engage with ads is by providing an incentive for them to view an ad. The incentive often comes in the form of free Facebook credits, which is the virtual currency for Facebook games.

In-game advertising, where a brand’s ad or brand-related content appears within a game, is another way brands can deliver messaging without being too intrusive. Social gaming is even more engaging when it comes to young males. Goel says, “If you were to do a game and [ask the player to compete] while saying this is the score among your friends on Facebook, then you start to see higher engagement coming from the young male audience.” When developing social games, Goel says simplicity is the key as youth have a very short attention span. “Quick-play, fun games work better for youth than if you would create a complex game where there are multiple steps and challenges that need to be done.”

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