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Social media minefield

Social media minefield

Brands that use social media can be either highly successful or just downright annoying, according to Ali Sinaei, head of online advertising at Bayt.com. Here’s how to get it right.

November 16, 2010 10:02 by



The Bad
In the spirit of chivalry, I cannot bring myself to talk badly about another organisation in the region – and I do want to keep this one regional – so I’m going to talk about my own company – Bayt.com. Don’t be so surprised. We’re not perfect, you know.
Basically, we were so keen to start engaging our users on social media sites that we jumped into dialogue with them before having a really solid strategy. The result? For the longest time, our Twitter and Facebook accounts were effectively a live stream of the latest content on Bayt.com. What value was there to that when users could just visit Bayt and get the same content? Well, not much, really. Then we decided to turn the tables around and “do” social media right. We got rid of the automated RSS feeds littering our Twitter microposts and the automated job postings on Facebook. We started listening to conversations happening on social media sites and targeting relevant jobs to the people who were actually looking for them. We decided to start sharing our office culture on Facebook by posting pictures of birthdays at Bayt and soccer games that our employees took part in (and lost, I might add). I’m happy to say that we now have a much more dynamic approach, and that we keep our social media profiles manned at all times, so as to make sure that the conversations are taking place no matter what time of the day.
The lesson: It’s not enough to just “be there”. We all need to ensure that we put as much effort into creating a unique presence on social media sites as we would if we had a group of our most important customers visiting out our offices.

The Ugly
As some of you may know, there was a very public race between the celebrity Ashton Kutcher and CNN. Kutcher challenged CNN to see who would be the first to reach one million Twitter followers. Honestly, I don’t know – and don’t really care – to know who won that race. I’m not even going to bother to research it for the purposes of this article. What I do know though is that they both achieved the million followers mark and plenty more, but what did CNN really gain? Credibility? If the endgame was just getting more followers, then job done. But the grey area here is quality over quantity: Should a news network like CNN get involved in what can be described as a blatant publicity stunt? You decide.
The lesson: Know your objectives before you start out. If the objective for CNN here was gain a million twitter followers no matter what the methods, then this is a success. But the reason I placed it in the “Ugly” department is because many would argue that how they got there will ultimately help erode the brand as a trusted news provider. I would love to hear your views on this. I’m undecided.
In short, as brands we must all try to remember that we must not treat our usage of social media as just another tick-box. We have to remember that these are real interactions happening with real people who may very well have the potential to be real consumers.

Ali Sinaei is head of online advertising for Bayt.com.
- Gulf Marketing Review

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4 Comments

  1. Ronald on November 18, 2010 9:51 am

    Very interesting article on a very volatile medium. there are many ugly stories and a few good one, ugly can be described with the launch of the Honda Crosstour on Facebook, the car, the brand, the designers and the deciders at Honda were massacred by the public, to the extend Honda was so overwhelmed they took the whole site off… something similar happened when Fritz Henderson resigned and everyone on the GM FB page reacted and his daughter’s flaming comments towards GM, the posters and the nation caused much unneeded embarrassment to all involved.

    As for the Kutcher/CNN stunt on Twitter, well not entirely sure, Kutcher and his wife Demi Moore are widely regarded as the god parents of Twitter, so i think CNN used their popularity on the medium to get a head-start on its Twitter spread. you have to remember that with the start of the i-Report desk and blogs and since CNN has been trying to connect with the Younger Generation, so I don’t think it was Ugly, at least from their vantage point. but for a bystander that thinks CNN is for mature business men and just that, it would look odd and damaging to its brand values…but the world is changing and those mature Business men should take note and start accepting it, or switch to bloomberg, or BBC world

     
  2. Ali Sinaei on November 24, 2010 1:51 pm

    Thanks Ronald!

    I guess there is definitely something to be said about appealing to a younger generation. With the rise in popularity of satirical programming such as John Stewart’s The Daily Show and The Young Turks, the decision makers of the future are getting used to current affairs being discussed in a language closer to home… it makes perfect sense for the news platforms to make a similar shift both in terms of content, language and delivery.

    Having said that, for the time being at least, I do believe there is a very real chance is this kind of strategy landing networks like CNN in a form of no man’s land, in that they do not know where they sit and who they want to appeal to – ultimately, they are not The Daily Show, and if they do move too far away from Bloomberg or BBC, where exactly will they find themselves?

    Having said all that, I’m still undecided :-)

     
  3. Andrew on November 24, 2010 6:32 pm

    Social media in these parts often seems to be little more than a way of shovelling the usual one-sided messages down a new channel, trying to encourage the kind of brand worship we see with Apple. At worst it seems to openly insult the very people it claims to want to speak to.

    I know of a case where a friend of mine was added on facebook by a certain well known Abu Dhabi property tycoon (or someone working for him). They said they were canvassing the people of Abu Dhabi for their opinions on the company and their developments. My friend stated his rather negative opinion, but did so rationally support with point-by-point details … they were simply deleted. Apparently he didn’t want his opinion after all.

     
  4. Salah Almhamdi on December 24, 2010 2:42 pm

    It’s a wonderful article but I want to say that the race was between Ashton Kutcher and Larry King. And Kutcher won ultimately.

     

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