Social Media Doesn’t Work!

We have clients who come to our courses every month saying that “Social Media doesn’t work for our company” but if we look a little closer it seems to be working very well for their competition, so they have to ask themselves – why is this?

 

The problem isn’t that Social Media doesn’t work, we all know it does, it’s what they post on their pages. When considering what content to post you need to ask yourself, is it relevant? Is it engaging? Will people read what you post, or are you just wasting your time on it?

 

Like many of our clients, they use social media as a platform to JUST SELL a product. This is the last thing that you should be doing. If you constantly see “BUY THIS PRODUCT” on every social platform are you really going to buy the product? Probably not! By promoting your product everywhere, not only are your engagement levels going down, but you aren’t making any business. Having content which is focused primarily on the promotion of products is known as interruption media and will cause the consumer to dislike/unfollow\unsubscribe!

 

You have to see your online media as a shopping store. Imagine if you walked in to a shop and someone ran over waving a product in your face saying “you should buy this!!” would you buy it? Or, would you leave that store and tell people how bad the customer service was? Having excellent customer service is about building a rapport, by taking the time to know the customer and learning about their needs and providing relevant information, they are more likely to buy from you.

 

Education is key! Most of the videos being shared on Facebook are Educational videos on “how to” how to get more followers, how to remove a stain, how to become your own boss. All of these things get shared and the more its shared, the wider your audience becomes.

 

Let’s take LinkedIn for example the average user has 400+ followers if only 2 people share your video you are reaching 800 new people that you have never reached. As your educational video is shared to more people, more people will follow you and connect with you and when they need your service who will be the first person that comes to mind? You! Their educator!

 

A great example of this was a local flower company posting weekly videos on how to make a bouquet of flowers like he does. You may be thinking “but won’t people just do it themselves?” yes, they might! But most won’t and each video is getting 3,000+ views each time he posts, that’s 3000 more people seeing him who have never been in his shop. Now when people need flowers for any reason they contact him directly via his Facebook and buy his flowers online. His sales are up 350% since he started posting the videos. Read that again 350%!! This is a huge amount of sales all from just posting how to arrange flowers.

 

If you want to grow your business, then you need to provide value to your customers. You need to give them something to share, you need to be the person they go to when they need the service you provide. If you keep all the information to yourself and don’t share it why would they purchase your service?

social-media-resultsMost businesses are now using Social Media in some shape or form. And it’s the shape and form that matters. To put it in context there are an estimated 50 Million businesses using Facebook. Why?. To generate business.

It’s simple. Social Media is about conversation and engagement. Plus it’s about creating content which ignites the spark – to start the conversation and enhance the engagement. So if it’s that simple Wayne, why do some many businesses still struggle with Social Media?

Well not to put too fine a point on it. Their content sucks.

Yup I said it. Poorly planned, last minute, always in sell mode, poor quality..the list goes on. And guess? It’s got little to no hope of sparking any conversation – let alone engagement.

Now before you go all OMG on me, thinking I’m really harsh on hard working businesses, I want to offer a silver lining – some Top Tips for all those businesses and other organisations who are finding their social media a chore.

Plan. And StickToIT.

Before you do anything you need to get a plan.

So step away from your Smartphone or Laptop, grab an old fashioned pen and paper and start to develop a plan. Questions like

‘Where are we now with our social media?’ (Assessment of current platforms/campaigns)

‘Where would we like to be?’ (Examples of admired bus/orgs)

‘How are are we going to get there?’

..are all good starting points.

Remember the journey is a long term game.

Many make the mistake of thinking of social media as some sort of silver bullet, which will get the phone ringing overnight and the enquiries coming in. That, my friend, takes time.   

Research 

If you were to rewind – say to even 10 years, you’d know how difficult it would be to carry out research, not to mention how much it would cost. We live in a time where research has become a whole lot easier in relation to identifying and accessing your potential audience locally, nationally or even internationally.

I’m a big fan of ‘Keeping it (really) Simple’. Two things you need to do:

Go to the Google Keyword Planner tool (which is free to use). This can shed a whole lot of light on a potential audience for a business. Best of all it will give you a real good indication of the types of things people are searching for locally and globally which relate to your business. If you see a trend and people are searching for particular words, guess what? You start to create content.

Keywords research is very important. In a nutshell, it’s the process for identifying keywords or phrases which are generating search volume from users each month. The process helps you pinpoint suggested keywords that can help generate traffic to your website or blog. Simply put it will help you target traffic which will be more niche and potentially ‘your market’ .

Facebook Ad Tool

Using the Facebook Ads tool also helps give you a pretty good indication of your potential audience and reach.

Facebook for the most part for businesses is ‘Pay to Play’. While I recommend you do a mixture of paid and non paid activity, if you’re just starting out it’s a great tool for getting an idea to your potential customer base. It is a tool I use regularly to check the potential audience base for my content ideas.

Write Better Headlines

Spend the time coming up with effective headlines for your content. It’s important. If you have a copywriter to hand – use them. If not take your time on this. Think of how fast social media moves. You have just a small window to capture the attention of your audience. A great little tool I suggest small businesses take a look at is Co Schedule Headline Analyzer. This is your headline assistant. It scores your suggested headlines eg for your blog posts and gives some great suggestions on how to best improve your headline for Maximum Impact. #BOOM 

Promote your Content 

It’s a wasted exercise creating great content for your business or brand, investing time, energy and money into it if you don’t promote it.

When it comes to promotion most businesses go straight to Facebook and Twitter to get their content in front of people. While these may work there are a number of other ways to try getting in front of digital eyeballs.

Content distribution

Outbrain is a content discovery platform that partners with publishers across 55 countries. It offers another way to get content sitting on websites and blogs in front of people. Normally via news websites in a ‘you may also like’ way. You are charged on a cost per click basis as opposed to a impression basis.

When it comes to content via Social Media and your businesses website it helps to educate, inspire and inform.  Visitors then turn into customers – it helps conversion. Spend time creating content, with great Headers, about topics your targeted audience wants and promoting it wisely. You’ll see results.

If you’d like to get more hands on with Social Media and improve how it’s working for your Business – Join Wayne on the next ISM Social Media Marketing Workshop to book a place email: [email protected]

 

boris johnson

Is your digital marketing up in the “hair’?

As a creative marketer you already know the ins and outs of digital marketing. Impressions, engagements, click through rates are familiar jargon. You are now looking to innovate and be strategic without affecting your work-life balance. All mature digital marketers have been there. You are at a tipping point but there just aren’t enough hours in the day. We feel your pain and have compiled a list of apps that will help you achieve your goals without you having to look like Boris Johnson’s hair on steroids.

So what are your priorities? As a digital marketer you already know that 75% of online video viewers have interacted with at least one video ad this month. This makes video priority #1.

Making videos doesn’t have to be a time consuming process that involves studios and specialists. A smartphone and some creativity is enough.  With Vine – Twitter’s video blogging app, making and sharing video content is easy. Vine gives you the ability to tell a story in six seconds. If you have an incredible moment or story to share with your customers, this is the right app. The best part? You don’t have to spend hours thinking, brainstorming and story boarding.

Now you have video covered. What’s next? Well, “researchers found that colored visuals increase people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80%.” That makes info graphics priority #2.  But if you are not skilled at Photoshop or other design software, creating an info graphic can take days for coordinating, designing and man-hours. This is why we love the Piktochart app. It has an easy to use drag-drop template and over 500 templates that you can choose from. Idea to execution takes just a couple of hours, and the best part? You can do it on the go – while you are riding the metro or stuck in traffic in downtown Dubai. Oh and it’s free!

Ok so now you have the visual content taken care of. Next you need to look at some direct inbound marketing activity. Emails as you know are making a comeback – more and more companies are reporting higher engagement from emails. In fact, “you are 6x more likely to get a click-through from an email campaign than you are from a tweet.”

Some of the more mature email marketing platforms offer a host of features that can be overwhelming to set up a simple drip campaign or email newsletter. We prefer Mad Mimi. It has a simple user interface and one of the most generous free plans available. What’s good? Combine it with a Vine video and have your email loaded with an embedded video. Emails with video increase click through rates by 200 – 300%.

Now you have taken care of content and engagement but you still need to measure and monitor effectiveness. Because social media never sleeps, monitoring becomes a 24/7 job. With the help of Mention, you can take a break.  You can monitor your brand mentions, engagements and respond directly from the Mention dashboard. It also tracks brand influencers and trends. You can monitor and ensure that your keywords are trending. What’s more, if you have a team, you can all communicate via Mention.

You last priority, as a creative digital marketer is to ensure business as usual. While you are creating Vine videos, info graphics and email newsletters – the day-to-day social media activity needs to continue. Buffer will help you do just that. It helps you manage, schedule and publish all your social media channels, from one place. The extra bonus? It connects with your Mention account to ensure you get the in-depth analytics that you need.

Whether you are a one-man digital marketer or managing a team, these five apps are all you need to create an integrated online marketing experience for your clients without compromising on engagement, SEO, mentions, leads or sleep.

 

 

Is your Business struggling with Social MediaDo you want social media to perform better for your business, brand or organisation?

Wondering how other businesses seem to have gotten so far ahead with their own social media?

I’ve found one of the key issues and concerns for many businesses who want to improve social media is consistency. As someone who has worked in Digital Marketing and communications for over 18 years with businesses, brands and at consultancy level, I have seen it time and time again.   Businesses start their social media, run it for a few weeks – maybe months, then before long it starts to fall down the list of priorities.   Eventually activity stops.

Now as someone who is a massive social media evangelist and who has benefited greatly from it, I would urge tenacity – it will pay off. You will reap the rewards if you consistently put in the effort.   Don’t lose the opportunity to engage with potential customers on a local or global basis.

Frequently I come across such businesses who have given up – I always ask why and normally get some variation on the responses below:

  • Social Media doesn’t work for my business
  • We just don’t have the time
  • We don’t get Social Media
  • Our Customers aren’t on Social Media
  • Traditional advertising is working just fine for us

The above is a sample of some of the thinking still in 2016. There is no doubt in my mind or in the minds of any of the businesses I work with – that social media does work for business.   That being said, I do agree that it can be hard work.   It takes time, effort and investment – it’s most certainly not free. But if executed correctly can become a core part of your businesses marketing efforts.

So I’ve come up with 5 simple but effective ways for social media to work better for your business.

Training

It’s number one.   You need to start here.

Invest in training for those staff within the business or organisation who are key to the daily management of your social media. Training needs to be delivered by the right training provider. At ISM we have a track record of delivering engaging practical social media training for businesses.   The key word here is ‘practical’. There are way too many digital marketing events and training which bring in speakers who talk about social media – but don’t actually show the delegates how to do anything. The staff within a business who are responsible for the social media need to be empowered and have the confidence to help build and grow the social media activity for the business or brand. It’s also highly recommended that other key members of the business avail of training even if just a 1 day introduction to social media for business so everyone has at least an understanding of its importance and impact. In my experience social media in many businesses can be a bottom up approach, though in rare occasions it has been top down. Buy-in from senior management to CEO level is important and a recommendation I give many businesses, is to consider a short half or full day introduction to digital marketing and social media for those key members of staff in which buy-in to develop ongoing social media is important.

Content

When it comes to social media no matter what the activity, email marketing platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram or blogging content is at the heart of everything.

Many businesses struggle with content and end up churning out sales-related content which does not engage anyone. When it comes to starting to think about creating content, the bottom line is that the content you create needs to add value and it needs to be useful. Rather than rush the creation of content, sit down to plan how and what the content might look like, will it solve a problem for your current or future customers?. Remember customers are searching for answers to questions.   If you are lucky enough to have them click on a link to a piece of your content, does it answer a question or help solve a problem.

Scheduling Tools

Yes there are many available on the market – some with lots of features that can cost a small fortune each month and end up being poor value for money for a business especially if you are not getting the proper use out of the different features or the tool itself is so complicated that you avoid having anything to do with it and you simply don’t use it. My advice is to start small.   Buffer is my tool of choice when it comes to scheduling for social media (even it’s free version) it’s iideal for businesses just starting out and trying to get to grips with managing social media and scheduling content. Getting into the habit of scheduling a core base of content to flow out each and every day across your main platforms, – most likely Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn will increase engagement and help you have more time to focus on developing other areas of your digital marketing.

Have a Content Plan

With my own content I try to get at least 3 months of content in the pipeline. One of the key benefits I have found about having a content plan is that it helps me publish more. The setting up of a schedule forces me to commit time to creating a piece of content along with the actual production of the content it also needs to be researched which helps contribute towards my own learning development. Your content plan for your business will give you an overview of all the key holiday dates or other dates which might be relevant to your business. Remember holidays and events are important to your audience and provide an excellent opportunity for content creation. The content plan gives you the opportunity to plan the type of content which you want to create.   There are a number of different types but I would highly recommend a mixture of blog posts, video content and audio based in the form of podcasts and eBooks all have worked very well with clients I have worked with in the past.

Insights & Analytics

Ever try to go on a journey and not look at a map? I have but that may be a man thing :). Relying on my guess work didn’t work.

It’s not easy – you end up most of the time getting lost and keep taking the wrong directions while spending way longer than you needed to.

When it comes to social media many people operate their social media activity by a series of guesses. When it comes to the numbers you need to pay attention to these as they let you know what works and what dosent.   All of the major social media platforms offer their own insights or analytics which gives you an idea on how your content is working and also the type of audience which you have. Make sure you set up a Facebook Pixel on your website.   Once added, Facebook will start tracking visitors and running in conjunction with Facebook Ad conversation will provide you with indication to the cost of driving traffic across to your website from Facebook.   If you are using any third party applications such as Hootsuite, Buffer, Audiense or Social Bakers these will also give you insights and analytics.   All of which will help you make better informed decisions on what is working and what is not in terms of your social media efforts. And much of which you have control of o make changes in real time.

I hope by reading this article you are considering reinstating social media for your business. Remember as humans we are social beings.   As businesses and brands we need to understand that and humanise content for our audience – start to think like a customer and shape you efforts on social media around that. Remember what I covered in point one about the importance of training – it’s key and will help take social media for your business to the next level.

So my question to you…What are you waiting for?

Enrol for the next social media or digital marketing workshop with ISM and let me help you become empowered to successfully build your businesses social media community.

To an evolutionary biologist a meme is a behaviour, idea or action that is passed from one person to another within a culture.  It’s the evolution of ideas through the spread, replication and adaptation of words. They are infective and viral and compete for your attention.

The internet meme stays pretty true to this and they are a great viral addition to the modern marketing toolkit. Your meme can be a word meme, video meme, photo/image meme, animal advice meme or something dreamt up in a marketing moment of magic. Make it familiar, topical, shareable, succinct and funny and sit back and watch it go viral.

So let’s take a look at memes that have worked , some meme creation platforms and then decide where to best position your meme for maximum effect.

Memes that work

With your brand in mind think carefully before you leap on board the meme train. Memes are fun and can be adapted to fit virtually every brand but may, and do replicate, and turn the tides of public opinion against you. What ideas do you think will resonate with your clients and their demographic? Overt marketing is a big no-no, remember that a meme is fun and interactive and think through the consequences of using culturally insensitive images or words. They could come back to bite you. Bill Cosby posted a picture of himself in 2014 inviting people to meme him and boy did they.

successmeme

Social media success is within your reach…

Baby Sammy’s fist clench denoting ‘success’ or ‘frustration’ started life as an image taken by his mother and was uploaded to Flickr and Getty Images. Since then it has snowballed and captured the imagination with success memes going viral in their thousands. Virgin Mobile paid an undisclosed sum to licence the image for advertisements and it was even used by the Whitehouse for an immigration campaign. Sammy Griner maybe the most recognised baby on the internet… after North West . This meme also significantly raised money through crowdfunding for Justin Griner (Sammy’s father) when he needed a kidney transplant in 2015.

shrek

Poor Shrek will never escape the swamp

There were some great meme campaigns last year including the “Straight Outta … “meme generator which promoted the film “Straight Outta Compton” boosting ticket sales at the box office. Try it yourself here http://www.straightouttasomewhere.com/ . The great thing about this campaign is the ease with which anyone can participate and share their meme. The public loved it creating hilarious memes,  and no animal, politician or cartoon character was safe.

Meme Generators

There are plenty of meme generators to help you in your quest including the following:-

  • imgflip. Has a stock or established images which you can caption however there is also the option to upload your own images.
  • Dubsmash app can be downloaded and will allow users to create well known movie scenes and video lip synch to their favourite songs.
  • Meme Generator was the first online meme generator and will allow you to caption popular characters and animals like ‘grumpy cat’ and will also allow you to upload your own images and meme those or invite others to so.
  • QuickMeme

There are always more meme generators popping up on the internet so keep an eye out and do let me know if you have a favourite app or generator. If you don’t think you can summon up the right sense of humour then have a browse through KnowyourMeme and exercise your inner comedian.

Get your Meme Seen!

Now that you had created your meme and discussed its role in your marketing campaign where are you going to put it?

  • Reddit is the number one place to post your meme on the internet, look for the right subreddit and submit your meme. If it does make it to the front page then you will get a dofollow backlink. It is also a great place to have a look what is trending and in a few weeks you will see the memes trending on more conventional social media sites like Facebook. You could hijack and get on board a trending topic like the impeachment of Brasilian President Dilma Roussef before others or just use it to test out the virality of your created meme. If your meme is popular it will be adapted and go viral quickly.
  • Tumblr . This is a hybrid of social media and a blogging platform. If your content and images are liked then you can benefits from reblogs which do give backlinks. With 10 million users and rising this is the platform not to ignore, especially for great content writers.
  • Your meme can be shared, liked and commented on, driving traffic to your Facebook page and increasing your followers. Whether they are your target market is a question you should have a think about when creating your meme.
  • Supported by appropriate hashtags your meme could be picked up by influential retweeters in your region and further. Just search for the popular hashtag #firstworldproblems and you will see how effectively this hastag has gone memetastic.
  • StumbleUpon .A great place to submit your memes with millions of users it will definitely drive traffic to your website but again be aware they may not all be your target market and have a plan in placeto market additionally or gain subscribers on the landing page so visitors may turn into customers or brand advocates. The added advantage is that backlinks can be produced.
  • No handy backlinks on this site but plenty of users and a perfect fit for meme humour.

Hopefully you are not ready to produce your memes.  Just remember your sense of humour.

ISM’s next Social Media Marketing Course is running  from 26th to 28th April in Dubai. Please get in touch through [email protected] if you want to learn more .

You have researched, invested time, energy and money into creating content for your audience but you’ve noticed a big issue.  This content which you have created – is failing to make an impact and engage your audience.   It’s just not happening.  What could possibly have gone wrong?.

Well before we delve into looking at where it might have gone wrong, let’s take a look at what content marketing actually is – then try to get on track.

According to The Content Marketing Institute ‘Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.’

The key message for content here is ‘valuable, relevant and consistent’  – without these 3 key ingredients in your mix, – your content is going to struggle to get the attention and engagement it needs.

Times Square

Don’t be drowned out by the noise!

We live in a world bombarded with advertising messages.  Dubai and the UAE is no different to the rest of the world.  Just pause for a moment and think of all the different marketing messages you have received today.   How many of them were valuable, relevant and consistent? And more importantly did you purchase as a result?.

Just as with offline marketing i.e. TV, Radio and Print we are competing for eyes and ears.   Digital is no different.  On Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even Snapchat we need to first ensure our content is valuable, relevant and consistent.

But stop a minute and ask yourself a question.  Are you and the other businesses in your sector knocking out the same stuff?  Is there any real difference, from your customers point of view in terms of the marketing messages?

What tends to happen is a trend of pretty similar content.  Our competitor is doing it, therefore it must work?   It wont. You need to take it beyond this and create content which is compelling and different.  Go all out and inject stories into your content that will take it up a whole new level.  Fascinate, pique your audiences curiosity,  mix things up.  Then you can really start to maximise your organic reach and perform better than before.   By taking on board the tips below to promote your digital content you should start to see a shift for the better.

Now when it comes to promoting content most people automatically think ‘fire it up on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and that should do the trick’.   Unfortunately not.  While these platforms do help you cannot just rely on them to do all the work – at least not without paying for exposure.   Even with that, if your content is poor and does not include the mix above you’ll burn through your budget – with little to show from the effort.

# 1 Video will be massive in 2016

 Yes massive.    In fact, according to Cisco, video is predicted to account for 80% of global Internet traffic by 2019. Video streaming apps such as Periscope and Meerkat allow you to stream content directly to your followers on Twitter and beyond – all you need is the app downloaded to your Smartphone device and you are good to go.  Facebook Live is also coming soon.   This will allow you to stream live video to your Facebook page.  Live video streaming allows you to add another dimension to your content, you can find many examples of how your business can utilise video streaming, eg behind the scenes footage, product reviews and Q&A’s, all streamed in real time.

# 2 Trending Topics

 Pay attention to trending topics around your business or brands sector  – this is a great way to push your content out on the back of topics which are trending (be careful not to spam).   If there’s a link (however tenuous) between your offerings and something which is trending, make sure you jump on it.   This is a smart way to get your content in front of large audiences of users following these topics.

# 3 Twitter Chats

 There are now countless dedicated Twitter chats, many of which take place on a regular basis.  Find out which Twitter chat hashtags are relevant to your business and set these up on Tweetdeck or Hootsuite to monitor.  If you come across a chat, which is especially relevant to your business or brands, why not get involved and actively contribute?  This is one proven way to be authentic and build trust.   Remember though to keep the sales tweets to a minimum – and focus on adding value.

# 4 Guest Blogging

 Guest Blogging can provide an excellent way for you to indirectly promote your content.  One of the massive benefits of guest blogging is that it can give you business-targeted exposure, if you are able to seek out the established blogs in your niche.   They do exist – you just need to find them.  The other plus with this approach is that it increases your credibility and therefore potential traffic to your website.   In turn, this equals more eyeballs viewing the content which you’ve created.  Whilst it’s hard work and can be very labour intensive you’ll reap the rewards.

 # 5 Build Trust and Credibility

 Business and Brands need to earn attention.  You can’t just keep buying it.

So, if you want to stand out from the crowd remember your content needs to be valuable, relevant and consistent.  With a big sprinkle of compelling and different to succeed.

Are you a Business in Dubai or the UAE who wants to learn how to create better content and promote it?  Here’s how – sign up for the next ISM Dubai Digital Marketing Program.

 

The-Address-Downtown-Dubai-Calabar

Well the fireworks went off as planned but the Address Hotel with it’s superb view was probably more watched on media for very different reasons.

A new wave of social reporting has emerged in the UAE last year thanks to the Periscope application and nowhere was it in more evidence than New Year’s in Dubai. On New Year’s Eve a few hours before midnight fire broke out at the Address hotel close to one of the world’s most iconic buildings the Burj Khalifa. Immediately , around 20 periscope reporters started to broadcast the events. An image map at the time showed multiple broadcasts and footage of events was picked up by International News Stations.

That dramatic event aside here is a quick look at Periscope and it’s uptake in the UAE.

Social Media giant Twitter bought the Periscope app in March last Year for a hefty sum and within 10 days of its launch the app had logged 1 million users, within 4 months over 10 million.  The Periscope app allows users to live stream video content and the audience can interact by posting comments or tapping on the screen to show their appreciation (love heart). The app can be linked to your twitter account and so when you do a live transmission it will show up in your newsfeed allowing you to potentially gain more followers.

The Middle East is notorious for having avid users of social media so it is no surprise that we love Periscope.  So who is broadcasting in the United Arab Emirates? Right now at the time of writing…prime commuter time… we have just a few stray broadcasts from  Ras Al Khaimah and Sharjah… nothing that is going to blow your mind: a kid showing us where he lives and someone else is showing us the rain (which is a major event here!). If we look at the prolific Periscopers in the UAE the content starts to get a bit more interesting.  The Dubai Health Authority ( DHA) streams live from round table discussions answering audience questions, Emirates Live with almost 45,000 followers invites us to tour the country with them and Anika Morjaria is getting her media career off to a good start by regularly streaming from her travels as well as linking her broadcast to her you tube Channel and video blogs. So we are not all just cruising around showing off high performance cars and our surround sound system, Periscope has some real interest not just locally but also internationally.

So what sort of uses can you put Periscope to make it work for your brand? Remember you need to keep it engaging, informative, legal and fun.  Just beware though…trolling on this app can reach quite high levels but the users and posters of inappropriate comments will fall foul of both local and international laws. You can block individual users or report them.

What are the current uses of Periscope and what is the application of this to your brand or business? ISM Training explores these questions and more on our game changing Digital Marketing course. Currently, we at ISM have used the App to show you where we train, inviting you to walk around a course and meet the trainer and delegates. Look out for us we will be periscoping our way through 2016!

So what are the most popular hashtags in Dubai and where did the hashtag come from anyway? This social media staple of twitter and Instagram makes sure your business news gets found and if it is alluring enough,  will help it spread too…. to the people that count!.

Hashtags were first introduced on twitter by Chris Messina and his first one was #barcamp. The San Diego fires got Chris thinking and led to a better way to coordinate communications via twitter. At this time his  hashtags had  some reservation from the Twitter Management but now hashtags are ubiquitous… even in speech ( if you are a parent of a teenager you know this!).

Hashtags are a simple way of grouping together events # diabetesmonth , adding context for tweets #UAE, commenting on stories #fail or keeping up with news #F1.

What other twitter conventions are there? Have they taken off as much? Here we see Chris using a few common ones in a recent tweet.

Chris

/ is used to serially string together several phrases and can save the odd letter in your 140 limit

cc is used to indicate someone you want to direct a tweet at and helps get their attention

@ is used to refer to someone directly and is followed by their user name. Referring to someone like this is engaging because it gives them a shout out and may even encourage them to follow you back.

There are lots more frequently used abbreviations such as DM (Direct Message) and H/T (hat tip) and so many spawn spontaneously that you won’t use. #FF is FollowFriday and can be used (only on a Friday, bad form otherwise!)  to ask people to follow your recommended twitter users

e.g. #FF@ismtraining. Enjoying the great Training Company tweets!

Give people a good reason to follow your suggestion though otherwise it looks spammy.

So what about UAE centric hashtags? The most popular on twitter would seem to be #UAE #Dubai #AbuDhabi #Emirati and #My Dubai , but others trend all the time . Getting a tweet to trend is actually surprisingly not that hard on paper at least…

#UAE_Innovates for example was trending on November 22nd with only about 175 tweets per hour over a 2 hour period. These were in the wee small hours of the morning with main tweeters being the CDA  Dubai and the Land Department. So aiming for this number over a short period and at the right time should get you trending. Hashtags Org   is a pretty nifty tool to get information like this. #Dubai tends to get between 200 and 600 tweets/hour with #MyDubai at 60 to 200.

On Instagram the hashtags will be a little different because it is a photo based social media site. Popular ones include #love #instagood #me #tbt #followme and  #ThrowbackThursday  ( or #TT) which allows people to reminisce through words and pictures of past experiences. Don’t just throw in random hashtags otherwise no-one will find you so make sure you know the popular ones for your business.

All hash tagged out? If not check out our #ISMDubai to see what people are saying about our training!

Katy_Perry_gig_Nottingham_2011_MMB_52

You may not get as many followers as Katy,, but you can still improve your online presence.

From being completely unheard of 10 years ago, social media has become a major element to any marketing campaign. Yet many companies are still unsure about how to harness its power. But whether you are a newbie in Dubai’s start-up community, or an established business, there is one sure fire way to increase your profile online: integration.

Integrating all your social media is the only way to truly raise your profile across the social media landscape. Having only one account on one platform may seem the easiest way forward, but it doesn’t give the extra oomph you need to get more eyeballs to your website.

The first step to integrating social media is find out where your customers hang out. Whether you sell music, are an engineering firm, manufacture goods, buy and sell stocks and shares, or make bridal gowns, there is a social networking site for you.

On top of the niche areas you create profiles on the big networking sites: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. Once these have been set up decide whether you are a visual company and if you are, add yourself to Pinterest and Instagram. And if the budget will allow get a YouTube account and starts posting videos of your product and services.

Once these are in place the next stage is where the increased profile really starts to work for you. Every time you have a new photo of a product, a new video on your services, you post it on all of the platforms. Some you’ll link back to your website – i.e a link to a blog post on your site, a link to the new product launch page, a link from Twitter to your YouTube account showing the latest video.

Working on a rough 60/20/20* rule, you’ll begin to grow followings on your social accounts and drive traffic to your website.

There are lots of tools out there to help you manage your social media integration, such as Hootsuite, that allow you to post on multiple platforms. So if you are running a competition, you can send the link out simultaneously on all the platforms you’re using.

It’s a simple way to increase your profile online, but you need to keep on top of it. Either employ someone internally or externally to manage it for your business to reap the benefits.

 

* The 60/20/20 rule is that 60% of your content is business orientated, 20% is credential orientated, and 20 human orientated. As an example, you can show your products, talk about your services for 60% of the time on social media, but you have to also devote time to showing your credentials. These can be commenting professionally on something that is going on in your industry (which builds people’s confidence in you and your business), linking to a blog post that also shows your credentials, or retweeting/sharing posts from people you think are talking about your industry. The last 20% is reserved for the human element. Some companies call this the funny side, where you show you have a sense of humour by retweeting/sharing funny pictures. But it doesn’t have to be funny, it can be whimsical, such as sharing cute pictures of animals (a picture of any kind is more likely to be retweeted!), it can be your fascination with the sports team, your interest in architecture, or even a shared interest you develop over time with some of your followers. The rules are very bendy on this, but the one no-no… is sharing content that might cause offence.

 

 

 

Coca Cola’s latest marketing stunt in Dubai may not have filtered throughout the international social media landscape, but where it matters, the Middle East, it has made a big impact.

[embedplusvideo height=”300″ width=”300″ editlink=”http://bit.ly/1v3mkrX” standard=”http://www.youtube.com/v/zlA9tXYxD8g?fs=1″ vars=”ytid=zlA9tXYxD8g&width=500&height=500&start=&stop=&rs=w&hd=0&autoplay=0&react=0&chapters=&notes=” id=”ep5250″ /]

By placing special phone booths in foreign workers labour camps, workers could use the caps from Coca Cola bottles to make a phone call home – allowing them to phone home for far less than usual.

A phone call from UAE to the worker’s home countries (the Asian sub-continent) usually costs $0.91 per min. A coke in Dubai costs $0.54 and for one cap they get a three minute call. Instead of costing the workers $2.73, they could talk to their families for $0.54. Considering the average take-home pay is $6 a day, the reception to the phone booth was overwhelmingly positive.

Despite some detractors of Coca Cola’s tactics, the marketing concept has proved hugely successful. Coca Cola monitored social media and found the response was 94% positive. A huge success in any company’s book.

By providing the technology the company engaged the customers on an emotional level. Emotional engagement is a proven way of successfully marketing a product. By placing their product next to the enjoyment of speaking to their loved ones, Coca Cola has cleverly given their brand a boost, not only in the minds of the people using the bottle tops, but also in the minds of the people reading about the event.

Emotional engagement in the social media age is the touchstone of marketing departments the world over. Behavioural psychologists state that 70% of human decisions are based on emotional factors. So in a purchasing scenario only 30% of the brain is using rational decision making, while the rest is formed by previous experience of a product and loyalty to the brand – they make an emotional decision.

Coca Cola understand this and their marketing is based on building brand loyalty and a better experience of their products. In creating a relationship between the word ‘happy’ and buying their drink, they are building a better customer experience.

With social media, they have seen the ‘happiness’ effect spread further than just the initial customers. The workers were filmed using the phone booths and the advert educated about viewers about the workers wages and the cost of phone calls. Seeing the smiles on the workers faces has spread their happiness around the globe through Twitter, Facebook and good old fashioned sharing by email.

For those who already have a positive feeling towards Coca Cola, seeing the happy workers gives the viewer a warm feeling from the worker’s experience. This is called the ‘Joy Response’ and coupled with re-enforcement from an individual’s social media community can ultimately drives up sales of a product.

Whether you are in agreement with Coco Cola’s marketing methods, it appears that the ‘Happiness Phone Booth’ was a success in the Middle East. The company has said that it’s using the Middle East as a testing ground for future campaigns across the globe. So look out for a ‘Happiness Phone Booth’ coming to your city soon.

 

 

When nearly half of social media users purchase an item after sharing it on their social media accounts, it’s no wonder marketing departments are pumping so much money and effort into harnessing the purchasing power of a great social media campaign. Here are some of the best (and worst) to give you some inspiration for your next social media marketing move.

Rising Stars

balotelli

Are you able to score highly in social media marketing?

Juventus – one of Italy’s oldest football clubs connected with fans in the modern of ways for a truly innovative social media campaign. Using a Facebook app, the club encouraged supporters from all over the world to submit a pre-match choreography for the seated fans to perform live on TV. A very impressive 3,000 choreographies were submitted, and tweets using the hashtag #LoveJu were displayed on a big screen in the stadium before the match as well.

Land Rover – it’s easy to sell an adventure when the sun is shining, but on a cold, damp, very wet winter’s day? Well that’s what the team at Land Rover decided to do with their #Hibernot campaign. Land Rover drivers have been encouraged to post their winter activities onto the Hibernot website. Supported by traditional tv ads, and some celebrity blogs on the site, this is an innovative way to tap into the rugged culture of Land Rover drivers.

Chili’s Grill and Bar – has nearly 4 million likes on Facebook where they encourage customers to leave reviews of their visits and follow-up on those reviews. One customer told the company how much she loved two servers at her local diner. The company blogged about the review, and also pictured the two servers receiving a gift card from Chili’s as a thank you from the company.

The company is all about local community and, although it is quite low key, this type of interaction gives a large international company (that has outlets in London, Dubai, Melbourne, and of course all over America) a friendlier online face to its local customers.

Blendtec – one of the oldest social media success stories, that still resonates strongly today. Blendtec hit all the right buttons with its ‘Will It Blend’ series of videos. Not only did their sales increase by a reported 700 per cent, they were featured on prime time television shows and major new outlets. The idea was to video lots of different objects being blended, the more outrageous the better. A simple concept that appealed to millions of YouTube viewers because the company wasn’t being slick, just having fun with their product.

Poor show

Reiss – sitting at the more expensive end of the high street fashion, Reiss garnered a little over 100 entries into its Pinterest competition. The prize was £1,000 to spend in one of its stores. Considering the 3,000 entries Juventus received, Reiss failed to hit the sweet spot in a choice of medium that should have done well for them – Pinterest is predominantly female and very image focussed.

Ragu – A classic social media failure from this sauce company. They created a series of videos to encourage Dad’s to cook more. Unfortunately, the videos were of wives complaining about their husband’s not cooking – which rankled the bloggers Ragu targeted to promote their videos. Although there was some social media chatter about the videos, it was predominantly negative. The lesson learnt here was not to annoy the very people you want to engage.

For the last three years marketing departments all over the world have been shouting about harnessing the power of social media. But is it right that business invades social interactions online? Does the Facebook account of a young businessman in Dubai need the intrusion of a local bakery touting their latest offer?

Well, according to a recent study by the Dubai School of Government, that’s exactly what entrepreneurs in the region want to happen. From a poll of 5,000 young people from throughout the Middle East, 86% believed social media would empower entrepreneurs with branding and marketing. Another 86% believed it would help them tap into wider markets.

So social media has been fully embraced as a strong marketing tool. But is this view mirrored by the users of social media? According to a report by Bayt (a recruitment company), over 47% of people polled in the Middle East say they actively follow business social media vehicles (other than the social media from the company they currently work for).

And the top brands being followed? Well unsurprisingly N2V, the internet company, tops the Facebook chart with over 260,000 fans, followed by The Dubai Mall’s Facebook page. But liking a page isn’t the same as actively engaging with a company’s social media. Air Arabia can only be applauded for with their efforts in building a engagement rate of 0.31%.

These results show that people in the Middle East are as happy as the rest of the world to get involved with their favourite brands through social media.

Social media is growing rapidly in the Middle East. 88% of the Middle East’s online population uses social media sites on a daily basis. Which is over a third of the population of the whole of the Middle East.

Although numbers cannot be exact (as they are growing every day), a survey early in 2013 put Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn firmly at the top of the social media tree. Facebook users were 58 million, Twitter 6.5 million, and LinkedIn 5.8 million.

However, in the UAE LinkedIn outstrips Twitter, where 12% of people use LinkedIn, Twitter gets a paltry 3%. This could be down to the more professional focus seen in professionals in the region. Something that is backed up by another survey by Bayt. In the whole of Mena, 9 out of 10 professionals said they’d gone online to search for people they had either met, or were going to meet, while 8 in 10 said they’d googled themselves: proving the UAE professional is obviously very internet savvy.

With nearly a third of professionals admitting to spending more than five hours a day online, the internet has penetrated both business and private lives of people living in the Middle East. For marketeers this shows there is a real appetite for online content. As people rely more and more on social media to find great content, it is not a case of whether businesses should be engaging people through social media, It’s more a case of businesses becoming more creative in finding the best strategies to engage people.

 

bank audi

Did this campaign bring out the artist in you?

An example of this was Bank Audi’s ‘Card Artist’ social media campaign. The bank encouraged people to completely personalise their credit cards, then post a picture of it on the bank’s Facebook page to possibly win a cash prize. It took just a few days for Bank Audi’s Facebook page to gain 2,000 fans. As a consequence of their hard work on their social media, Bank Audi won the 2012 Middle East Internet award for Best Social Media Campaign in the Financial Services category.

Whether your customers are in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Muscat, further afield, or closer to home, using social media cleverly is not only welcomed by social media users in the Middle East, they can become active participants in building your brand online.

Sources

 

http://www.bayt.com/en/research-reports/

http://visual.ly/social-media-usage-middle-east-statistics-and-trends

http://www.socialbakers.com/storage/www/sm-uae.png

http://img.b8cdn.com/emails/marketing/infograph0612/csm_en.png

http://www.wamda.com/2013/04/the-positive-effect-of-social-media-on-the-arab-world-infographic

http://www.slideshare.net/mrdamian/digital-digest-special-social-media-in-the-mena-2012-review-15877371

http://www.banqueaudi.com/NewsRoom/PressReleases/Pages/201211-cardartist.aspx

http://www.terrapinn.com/2012/the-internet-show-awards-middle-east/C38481.stm

Done right, social media is a brilliant marketing tool for your business. But so many businesses get it wrong. They either dive right in and join Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, start a blog and think that will be enough, or are so scared and confused by social media they don’t get involved at all.

The trouble with the first approach is that by the end of the first quarter you will have wasted a huge amount of human resource and have little to show for it. Not getting involved at all is means your company will miss out on the most important evolution in marketing since television advertising was born.

Find the right vehicle(s)

As with everything else in business, research is the key to getting the most out of your marketing budget. Find out where your customers hang out online. Are you a B2B, B2C, or both? Find out which blend of social media will work for you to reach your customers.

clare ebbs

Clare from Dubai wedding planning company "The Perfect Moment" uses facebook,twitter and Pinterest

The top social media vehicles are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. But if your business is selling wedding planning services, you’ll want to be on Pinterest and Instagram to post pictures of your latest wedding plan at the Madinat complex. If your company is international, sending salesmen and executives all over the world, you may find FourSquare a brilliant way to connect with people when you land in New York or London.

Get the vehicles right and you are well on the way to building a successful online presence.

Engage your customers

Social media is a two way street. Back in the pre-internet days, companies relied on TV and print advertising, in-store promotions, conferences and business networking events to engage with customers. Now you can create a continuous dialogue with people through sharing both yours and their videos and pictures of products and events.

For example, if you run a competition the internet generation winner will often post a picture of their prize. So you share that picture. If you are running a promotion in store, finding out who people are and sharing pictures of them is almost expected. People like to share their experiences in life, and the commercial world is part of that experience.

Structure your customer service

A complaint can move quickly on the internet, which is why it’s important to get your customer service response outlined before you go online. This way, when a customer tweets they hated the way one of your shop assistants treated them, or how disappointed they are in a shoddy product, you can react quickly. Complaints aren’t a disaster. If you treat the customer fairly, find out what has gone wrong, and fix the problem quickly (and even offer a voucher as compensation), you’ll not just make them happy, they’ll be more likely to stick with you in the future. Conversely, if a customer has said something nice, do share it!

Don’t stress about going viral

Don’t worry about going viral. Your business will survive without ten million people hits on your YouTube channel. Viral videos happen two ways. One is the spontaneous one, where someone makes a video that is so funny it becomes an instant hit. The other is achieved through spending a lot of money and time working with a marketing agency.

The point of making a video or taking a photo is to spread it to your fan base. Share it around on whichever social media vehicles you use. It may not go viral, but it should be interesting to customers. Done right, you’ll get some people sharing it through their preferred social media, and that’s the goal. So don’t sweat the viral challenge, just get the basics right for your particular audience.

Find out more about how to use Social Media more effectively for your  Dubai business here: https://www.ismdubai.com/courses/digital-marketing/index.php

Using LinkedIn to create leads and sales is a must in today’s marketplace. There are no excuses for small businesses to not be on LinkedIn. It is the place where businesses get together to socialise, network and most importantly, to do business. In a recent survey over 20% of all levels of management using LinkedIn were using it for networking purposes. Where once it might have been seen as a time-suck, LinkedIn is now a bone fide platform to network and find new business in the Middle East and elsewhere.

So if you’ve not been on before, here are a few handy hints for using LinkedIn for your sales and marketing strategy this year.

Create a profile

Unbelievably many small businesses still don’t have a profile on LinkedIn. Some of their staff may have a profile of their own, but without all the company being linked together on the site, you are missing out. Not only can you look at other people’s profiles, they can look at yours. For a small company this means you have to have a company profile with your staff and with their profiles. Anyone who looks at this will see you are a transparent and a real company – i.e. someone they can do business with.

Make sure your company profile is complete and gives a call to action in it. This could simple be a ‘give us a call on…’ or ‘visit our website’.

Join groups

Just as in life you have to get out and about and talk to people. Socialising on LinkedIn means finding groups where your prospects are hanging out. So, for example, if you are selling swimming pools you may want to find contacts in hotel chains. The best place to find those people is in hotel groups. Don’t forget to be visible within your own business niche as well.

Upgrade

There is a free version of LinkedIn, which for many people is the ideal starting point. But once you’ve got past the learning curve the only way to really understand how you can make good connections on LinkedIn is with paid membership. Paid membership for LinkedIn gives you more in-depth search capabilities and allows you directly mail someone.

InMail

This is the big tool for most sales people on LinkedIn. It can be difficult to get your prospect to take your call or read a standard email. But on LinkedIn an InMail is delivered straight to their mailbox in LinkedIn. They may still not read it, that is true, but it gives you an edge you’d otherwise not have.

Build your connections

Creating sales opportunities through LinkedIn means creating connections. You can start with family and friends to ease yourself in gently. Then get serious by looking at your prospective clients websites and seeing if they have a LinkedIn button on their site. If they do then use it!

But also think about your offline activities. When you meet someone at a business event it is usually acceptable to connect with them afterwards on LinkedIn.

The best way, and the most laborious way is to search for companies and people you want to make a connection with.

Target your searches

LinkedIn is a brilliant way to find exactly the person you need to talk to in a business. If you know the name of the company, a quick search in LinkedIn will most likely bring the company LinkedIn page up – with a list of who works for them. This means you can see instantly which person is most likely to be the one you need to talk to. As an advanced member you can also see the full profiles of people you don’t yet know.

Don’t be too pushy

Nobody likes a pushy sales person whether they are at a conference at Dubai’s World Trade Centre, or meeting with them in their office. So keep it personable and don’t do the hard sell. Use your common sense, or rather your sales sense here. Don’t do the hard sales push with a LinkedIn connection when you know more work needs to be done first.

 

 

 

bee

Are you creating enough of a buzz around your products ?

Just about every website has a couple of social media buttons, but just how effective have your social media efforts been? Are you really making the most of the opportunity to market your Dubai-based company on the internet?

Well the answer is no if you are simply Tweeting, updating Facebook occasionally or just sat there watching your LinkedIn account.

Social media isn’t a stand-alone component of your marketing plan. By integrating social media with the rest of marketing activities, your chances of success significantly improve.

More and more, marketing departments are realising that they need a cohesive strategy based around something called Content Marketing. This is where you create content on your website (and social media sites) to disseminate across social media and traditional media, to increase awareness of your product or company.

The concept of Content Marketing is fairly new, but as with all new marketing ideas, planning is the key to making it a success.

The 12 month plan

This is your master plan, with milestones plotted in. Every good marketing department should already have one of these. It gives you and your team a firm foundation of what is going on. You place each product launch, each marketing effort, industry conference and exhibition on your plan.

Example: if you are creating a TV ad you pencil in the air date, the date you are posting it on YouTube and when you are going to mention it on the company blog.

The six month plan

Here you give your marketing team a clear target to hit at the half way point. Everyone in the team should have a personalised version of the six month plan showing what they and their team are aiming to achieve during this period.

Example: The web designer will have a list of pages to be set up on the website to promote the new ad, a competition, the company podcast, or the company magazine.

The 3 month plan

This is the workhorse plan. Each day (or hour on some days) should have a detailed ‘to do’ list. Actions taken on a daily basis will build up the momentum to turn the 12 month plan into a success story.

Example: The person in charge of social media will have dates for when to tweet, update Facebook and LinkedIn to tell everyone about the new ad (competition, podcast, etc) and where they can see it.

Using Social Media to enhance content

When it comes to social media, you have to evaluate where your company will make the most impact. Think of social media almost like weaving. Use your Twitter account to link to your latest blog post, the video you uploaded to YouTube, the competition you have on Pinterest or Facebook. Then have a link from YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest or LinkedIn back to pages specifically set up for the competition, blog, video, on your website.

The essentials of content marketing for a Dubai company is no different from that of a New York company. But it isn’t a simple thing to achieve. It is a full time job. But done properly, it will build a buzz around your products and your company on the internet.

 

 

Before you embark on a social media campaign, your Dubai marketing team needs to plan, plan, plan. A scattered approach will yield scattered results at best. At worst, lots of social media accounts will open, and then nothing will get posted.

There are several different vehicles you can choose from to begin a social media campaign. Facebook, Blogs, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube and Twitter are the main ones. But which one do you choose?

Pooh

Pooh has a lot to say about thinking before acting. Do you have a well thought out social media marketing strategy ?

Well you are already well ahead of yourself here. Because the starting point is not what vehicle to choose, but deciding what your marketing campaign is aiming to achieve. Are you promoting the business as a whole, or one particular aspect?

Once you’ve identified what you are marketing, you then have to think about where you want people to go once they have been engaged. Do you want them to go to buy a product in a real shop? Are you promoting a product or service on your website? Is the aim to get people to your website and pick up the phone to contact you? Or to make a purchase on the website?

Not knowing the answer to these questions places your social media strategy into the pointless zone: engagement without a goal.

Answer all these questions as fully as possible before deciding which social media vehicle is going to help you achieve the most success. As an example, if you are selling a new range of cosmetics, you will need videos showing people using the cosmetics, beautiful images on Pinterest, a twitter account and a Facebook account to talk to customers and tell them of offers in Dubai shopping malls. And your website has to reflect the brand message.

But if you are offering consultation services, you need a truly authoritative blog, perhaps some tutorials on YouTube, some audio downloads and a LinkedIn account to talk to other businesses.

At this point you should know  what you are selling, who you are selling it to, and how you want to sell it. So who do you put in charge of the social media campaign? Do you place it in the hands of the new intern? Do you rotate who works on it?

The answer is obviously no, you don’t. You need someone who is net savvy, marketing savvy, customer orientated and comfortable confining their comments to 142 characters. This is not a job for an intern. You need a dedicated team who can track what is going on in each of the vehicles you’ve chosen.

Because when you have more than one social media platform, you need to know when to feed information into it. If you have a new video up on YouTube, tell people about it on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. A new blog post is the same; tell people it’s up. Think about social media as multiple loops that feed into different parts of your website. To keep track of everything, have a big calendar on the marketing office wall that shows everyone when videos, blogs, audio content is being produced and loaded. Preparation is key. Thoroughly planned, your Dubai social media strategy will be engaging,informative and effective allowing your business to reap the rewards.

 

 

Viral marketing is a difficult concept for your Dubai marketing team to turn into reality. What will tickle the imagination of the general public? How do people then feel compelled to share it with their friends? But most importantly, how can you market your products and services this way?

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Firstly, don’t confuse a really popular video on YouTube with viral marketing. A funny cat video may well get viewed over a million times in 24 hours, but it’s not selling anything other than funny cats and, of course, YouTube. The viral nature of videos sells YouTube far better than an ad campaign could have done. Kia’s grooving hamsters were a late entry into the viral charts in August with their latest dance ( see video above.)

This shows the flipside of viral marketing. Very often people mistake the message as the marketing. Yet, as Marshal McCluhan said in his seminal work ‘Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man’, it is the medium that is the message.

By using a new type of medium (TV, YouTube, Facebook), your message can travel in new and distinct ways through the population. Find a new medium that people like using, or receiving information through, and you can start creating your sales message.

Creative quarters in every major city in the world are constantly on the look out for new ways of spreading their message. QR Codes and Augmented Reality are the latest trends in this ever-expanding search for the new. However, there are still ways of making the grade virally, without the major spend in new territory.

FREE

Free is always going to generate interest. And it’s not just the current climate that makes free so easy to disseminate. Free has always held people’s attention. A staple of beauty magazines was the free sample. A little sachet of cream that promised clearer, tighter, dazzling, skin.

In the age of the internet it is information that holds value. Giving away a free guide, and pdf, free Kindle book, is a great way to spread an idea. Very often that idea is that your company knows what it’s talking about. It’s an excellent way to increase brand awareness and goes some way to give a base to growing brand loyalty. Just make sure your freebie is worth the time of the person reading it. This is a one shot deal. Mess it up and you end with a poor reputation, or no reputation at all.

SHARE

We’ve all done it, haven’t we? Clicked the share button on Facebook because we thought it was funny? It is known that an item shared on Facebook is four times more likely to lead to a sale. Get it right and your video, image or daily deal will attract the right attention.

On YouTube careers have been launched and millions made. It is still a great way to give your product or service some exposure. But, again think before your post because if you are putting out lame, boring, thinly populated material, you’ll be doing more harm than good.

TALK

Let’s suppose that you run a wool shop. You’ve created a free document that shows novices how to knit a jumper. And the video that accompanies it is proving very popular. So what now? Are more people coming to your online wool shop and buying from you? Not as many as you’d have liked? Have you provided them with a space to talk to you?

Social media came out of nowhere and quickly gained a unique place in the hearts of everyone with an internet connection. From Dubai to Brisbane, Mumbai to London, keeping in touch and spreading the word has never been so easy.

This is why you should be cautious, especially if you are using social media for business. There are a lot of traps and pitfalls, either where you annoy people or you open yourself, and your company, up to ridicule.

When any company starts out using social media the above are never part of their objectives, but it’s an easy place to find yourself. So here are some mistakes you should avoid:

Don’t be Rude!

Being rude is one of the worst things you can do in any circumstance, particularly to a customer. However, the speed of the net can mean an ill-chosen reply on Twitter or Facebook can be re-tweeted or shared faster than you can go and make a cup of coffee. In fact, by the time you’ve returned from making coffee, you could well see your business name in tatters.

The best way of dealing with customers online who make you angry is to pause before typing. Never tweet or reply to a message on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, or a forum, if you are angry. Sit back and take a minute.

For most companies, the only way to deal with problems online is to have a strong policy in place before you even start interacting with your customers, or potential customers. A standard response gives you breathing space, and if there is a genuine complaint, tell them you are looking into it, and keep them informed of any progress that is being made.

Remember You’re a Business

elephant

While most of us love elephants,Go Daddy's CEO Bob Parsons famously tweeted about killing one.Backlash ? Oh yes...!

This is particularly relevant if you are working for yourself, or there are only a few of you in your business. The lines between your personal and your business opinions can blur easily. It’s far better to have a personal account and a business account. This way you have a clear idea of which persona you are projecting at any particular time. And also, by doing this, there is little chance you’ll be boring your customers with your opinion of the half time score.

Replying to Customers

Nobody likes to be left standing around in a shop when they need a question answering. And the same is true online. People want their questions answered fairly quickly. If you have a Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ account the response time is going to be slightly longer. People are used to waiting a little while in these mediums. However, on Twitter, people are a little more impatient, so a speedy response will be appreciated.

Constant Promotion is a Turn Off

Ever wondered why big companies spend so much money on fun apps, giving away free goods, sponsoring festivals and sports events? It’s the fun factor. Without a huge dollop of fun thrown in now and again, promotion is just sell, sell, sell. And few people respond positively to the constant big sell.

And the same is true online. Don’t just sell yourself all day. Keep your customers and clients informed with industry opinions, fun facts, giveaways and competitions. Mix up your social media presence; it’ll be more fun for you and more interesting for your customers.

Every company in the world has been told they need to write a blog. But, do you really know why your Dubai marketing agency needs a regular blog? Or have you found yourself lost for what to write about?

sethgodin

Business blogging ..make it work for you !

Writing a blog is an excellent way to create real content on your website that appeals to your site visitors as well as to search engines. For search engines love new pages: it indicates a website is still in use, and they love indexing new pages. Blogs are also one of the cornerstones of social media marketing. With a blog you can draw attention to your website through all the other social media channels, improving your inbound links and thus, again, improving your rankings on search engines.

Here are some handy tips to help you keep your blog on track:

Make It Relevant

One of the worst mistakes you can make with your company blog is to talk about issues and events that are outside your knowledge base. If there is a major event in your industry, have an opinion. If there is a political or social issue that your company has no connection with, don’t blog about it.

You need to keep your blog consistent. Readers will grow accustomed to seeing your blog as a consistent source of information. If you write with authority on your subject, you will find that readers will come back every week to find out more. Deviate too frequently and you’ll confuse people and lose their attention.

Spread the Word

Don’t just write a blog, upload it to your site and leave it at that. Use other social media channels to ensure different types of readers get to know about it. Put a link to the blog page on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. If you are a regular on forums where linking is permitted, put a link there as well.

Show, Don’t Tell

Although a company blog is generally a written format, don’t be afraid to get some pictures up there, or embed a video. Pictures and video can really liven up your blog posts. Don’t use them in place of the written word all the time, but the occasional pictures or video will bring it life.

If you have a new product, service, menu, put a picture of it on your site and, if you feel it might attract attention, put it up on Pinterest as well. If you have a video of the product in action, even better, embed it into your blog as well as putting it up on YouTube.

Be Regular

If you want to keep people engaged in your blog, make sure you publish it every week. Every day would be great as well, but daily blogging is a huge task and requires having someone whose sole job it is to do your social media. So once a week is an easy ask. Once a month is too infrequent for blogging, but it is perfect timing for sending out a newsletter rounding up the month’s blogs and any other news your company has for your clients and customers.

Keep a schedule

It’s far easier to write a schedule of blogs for the next 8 weeks than trying to come up with ideas every week. Write out what needs to be highlighted each week to coincide with product launches, company events, industry events and news. A schedule also gives you the flexibility to change if something unexpected happens that you feel needs blogging about urgently.

So next time you’re feeling a little stuck for inspiration for your Dubai restaurant blog (and if you do have a restaurant or clothes boutique, Pinterest is a great way of showing your latest creation), open up Word, write a schedule and you’ll soon discover there is more to write about that you imagined.

Getting a Dubai company LinkedIn page up and running, or your personal profile working harder for you, is a quick process that can boost your own credibility as well as that of your business.

Founded in 2002, LinkedIn has developed a reputation for being the social media networking site for professionals. Unlike YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and blogs, this is a space devoted to building up relationships for business, not friendships (although that does happen, it is never as relaxed).

Which is why if you are not on there, you need to get your skates on. I’d hazard that most, if not all, of your contemporaries already have a basic account. With over 150 million users in over 200 countries, that’s a lot of business you could be missing out on.

A LinkedIn profile is nothing like your Facebook profile. This is the place where you tell people what is on your resume or CV, not where you spent your birthday party. And ensuring your profile gets seen is a matter of learning how to network online in a similar way that you’d network in real life. The only difference is that people can find out almost instantly what you’ve done in your career.

Making your profile work harder for you will require spending a bit of time on the site every week. There are some simple ways of boosting your profile:

Get your profile up to date – Every time you move job, learn a new skill, attend a seminar, or win an award, make sure you update your information. Remember, recruitment consultants use LinkedIn to find quality job candidates all the time. If you are looking for a new position, spend as much time polishing your LinkedIn profile as you would on your CV.

Ask for a recommendation – This is really important if you are a business or a freelancer. Ask people you’ve worked for, clients and partners to post a recommendation on your page. It allows visitors to see that you not only have the skills they are looking for, other people like what you do as well.

Join in discussions – There are thousands of groups on LinkedIn, talking about a wide range of topics, some of which will be relevant to your industry. Join the ones you are most interested in, or are most relevant to your company, and get talking on the topics and start some of your own. Showing you have an authoritative voice will benefit your company and your personal standing in the LinkedIn community.

Utilize the space – Don’t just give a short resume of yourself or your business. When people arrive on your business page on LinkedIn, they want to find out about your company, so give them all the information you want them to have. On your personal LinkedIn page, use the Summary section to really sell yourself and your abilities.

If you are going to use a piece of software like Hootesuite to send out messages to LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, at the same time, just keep in mind that LinkedIn is a professional space and talk like you would in the office, and not how you’d chat with friends during downtime in Dubai Marina!

Twitter is one of the top five social media vehicles, and your Dubai marketing team has probably already created an account for your company, but are they being held back by worries about mass following tools?

lorenz and geese

Dr Lorenz had geese following him, do you connect with your followers or are they just a number ?

Mass following on Twitter has its detractors because it was originally seen as a blackhat activity. However, if you do it properly it is an excellent way of growing your following on Twitter. This is because if you follow someone, a large percentage of them will follow you back. If you post interesting tweets, they will recommend others follow you as well.

For those who aren’t sure what mass following tools are, they come in a variety of guises, but the essential part of it is that you can create profiles of the type of people you want to follow and the software does the rest.

In simple terms, instead of searching manually for people who live in Dubai and are interested in your type of product, you type in the location, Dubai, the product, apartments, and off you go. The software will automatically find people who are in the region and mention the product.

By following people who have already shown an interest in the type of product you are selling, you are not being intrusive. The intrusive element is when you send people a tweet asking if they would be interested in your product. Twitter is not the place for aggressive sales tactics, it is a place for building brand awareness and talking directly with your customers if they mention you or approach you.

Depending on your budget, there are free tools and pay for tools. So you can pay anything from zero to $1,000s each month. Many follow packages are actually part of a larger Twitter management package, so research carefully before choosing which package is right for your company.

There are many tools out there, so if there isn’t a dedicated social media manager in your Dubai marketing team, appoint one person to research the different packages available. Here are three popular ones to start you off:

www.twellow.com – is a directory of public Twitter accounts and allows you to search people and interests. It’s very popular, free, but limited.

www.sproutsocial.com – From $9 to $899 a month, this is a full service package for using Twitter, rather than a simple follow software package.

www.tweepi.com – Another management package that includes bulk following, starts at $7.49 and the platinum version is $14.99 a month.

This link gives a comprehensive breakdown of different Twitter apps that may offer a different avenue for finding people to follow on Twitter, but also includes lots of different areas of Twitter use you may find useful:

http://www.squidoo.com/twitterapps

The one social media Twitter tool you really shouldn’t use are the unfollow tools. Some of these automatically send out a tweet to tell your follows who you have unfollowed. Because this tool mentions the name of the unfollowed, it is highly unsocial: how do you think you’d feel if you’d unfollowed someone and then they tell thousands of their followers? We unfollow for a variety of reasons so having it flagged up to people we don’t even know is highly unprofessional.

So next time your Dubai social media marketing team meets put mass following on the agenda: done properly, it’s a great way to boost your company’s profile online.

There have been low level, techie-driven grumblings about QR Codes for several months now. Predominantly based around the fact they will soon be replaced by another type of scanning technology: Mobile Visual Search. So is it time for your Dubai advertising team to ditch your QR Code campaign?

Not quite. It’s taken over two years for QR Codes to gain the broad public awareness to become the viable marketing tool it is today. But it will help your marketing team enormously to get a heads up on Mobile Visual Search.

MVS is a slow burning technology that allows mobile phone users to scan their environment and get information pushed to their phone. For example, point your camera at the Burj al Arab and an app on your phone will send you the information on this iconic building.

However the apps for this technology haven’t reached the saturation of QR Code apps, and there are only a handful of MVS developers in the world, who use an even smaller number of companies for the image recognition technology behind the apps.

It is a very niche idea at the moment. Google has invested in their own MVS app, Google Goggles, and the potential is very alluring – point your mobile’s camera at anything, instantly finding out about it. No messing with intermediary codes.

 

QR code

Would you like a present from ISM ?

But, for advertisers the QR Code still has traction. You can put one anywhere, on anything. When Calvin Klein wanted to seduce trendy young people in New York with a risqué ad, it was done through using a QR Code. There was no need to put a picture up on the billboard, similar to the ones that have got the company in hot water in the past. The QR Code is like a present, you are not sure what you are going to get before you open it.

With Mobile Visual Search, this element of surprise is gone. You point your camera at a product, building, painting or some foreign words and the information is delivered to your phone. It just isn’t as exciting as receiving a present, it’s more like opening a guide book.

Advertising and marketing companies are going to have to get very creative with this new technology if they want it to work on the scale that QR Codes currently do. One of the objections to QR Codes is they are ugly and interfere with advertising real estate. But they don’t have to be ugly and can direct customers towards specific pages of content, videos, or purchase points.

And this is where MVS falls down currently. You can make sure anyone accessing your logo through MVS technology goes to your corporate website, but how do create a journey for them? How do you take them to the latest video, how do you give them a present?

One article on the web has stirred up a lot of the current controversy surrounding the possible death of the QR Code, and has spawned other blog posts on the subject. On Mashable, the owner of a company that develops MVS said he didn’t think 14 million people accessing a QR Code was impressive. However, these codes can only be accessed by smartphones and there are 1.5bn worldwide mobile web users (i.e. smartphone users). Suddenly 14 million in one country is starting look at lot more impressive.

Mobile Visual Search is advancing, but just like video didn’t kill radio; QR Codes will develop and adapt to counter the new tech on the block. So don’t stop your QR Code advertising campaign in Dubai just yet. Dubai is one of the most advanced countries in the world when it comes to QR Code usage. It’s not wise to let such a savvy audience down, but enhancing your offering with new technology is always a good move.

References

Comscore

2d.code.

Econsultancy

Gizmodo

Mobile Marketer

International Telecommunication Union

Mashable

Pinterest has been around for less than two years, yet it has become the fastest website in history to break 10million unique visitors. And because the majority of users are women, for sales and marketing teams in Dubai it provides an ideal opportunity to reach out to their target audience in a fresh way.

For a website that is still in an open beta stage, the phenomenal 11 million total visits per week in December 2011, clearly shows why this zero to hero site grabbed the best startup of 2011 by TechCrunch (one of the world’s foremost technology news and analysis websites).

The speed at which Pinterest has become so popular is due, in part to the relaxed attitude to money taken by the founders of Pinterest, Ben Silbermann and Evan Sharp. The aim is to create a popular platform before considering how to monetize it. And the venture capital companies that have so far invested $37m in Pinterest, seem willing to wait as well.

One of the main investors is Bessemer Venture Partners. Jeremy Levine, of Bessemer, said recently that they had been looking for “a user-generated content media property around products” for over six years and when they came across Pinterest in 2011, it hit a cord with them immediately.

So at what point does this free website make the kind of money that attracts millions of investment? Well look to Facebook and Google for the answer. Both sites provide huge amounts of free content, and are able to heavily monetize a small percentage of that content.

Pinterest, Levine says, is not at the stage of thinking about monetizing it, but when the moment comes, be sure that it will do so very profitably indeed.

So, you may be thinking, how does my company in Dubai use Pinterest from a marketing point of view? Well the most common way used as the moment is the competition format.

cool romance pinterest

Get you nails on Orly's goodie bag!

One such competition is being run by the nail polish brand Orly. The prize is a swag bag of Orly products, and to enter people have to create a Pinterest board titled ‘My Cool Romance’. By asking people to enter on Pinterest, Orly are just one of hundreds of companies wholeheartedly embracing the zeitgeist.

Copyright issues still dog the site as some people don’t know whether what they are allowed to pin other people’s work to the site. However, Pinterest get around this problem by working with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, an act designed to protect the intellectual property rights of individuals. They also have an etiquette that asks users to credit their sources. Which in the case of companies running competitions works very much in their favour.

Because it is populated primarily by women, (97% of Pinterest’s Facebook fans are women), it provides an ideal platform for companies to talk to a female audience in an environment they have self-advocated. Get your offering right and it will become an interesting component of the fast moving social media marketing landscape.

There is no doubt that, this year, Pinterest is the next big thing. Will it continue to hold its position as one of the top ten social media vehicles, or will it go the route of MySpace? Whatever the answer, at this time the question for your marketing department in Dubai is not when should we engage, but rather how quickly can we engage?

 

Sources:

http://www.sirenasparklestar.com/2012/03/orly-launches-pinterest-contest-today.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinterest

http://www.fastcompany.com/1816870/bessemer-ventures-why-we-invested-in-pinterest

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/shortcuts/2012/feb/27/pinterest-a-man-free-zone

As a Dubai marketing team do you want your customers and clients to Like you, or to +1 you?

google plus one

Google plus one..are you on the list?

Well everyone likes a Like and up until six months ago, nobody had seen the +1 button on websites. Even as this little button slowly began appearing, nobody really took much notice. But when the world’s biggest search engine dives headfirst into social media, best take a step back and re-evaluate your position.

Until Google entered the social media landscape in June 2011, there were five social media vehicles for companies to use to increase search engine optimisation. These were Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and blogs.

There are hundreds of other different vehicles that can be used to increase your Dubai business profile in social media circles, yet only recently have businesses really taken Google+ seriously.

But that is now changing. Not because it is necessarily where your customers will hang out. More so because Google wants to make Google+ successful and is giving its use higher rankings in searches. And it is this particular side of Google+ that makes it a necessary component of your company’s social media strategy.

If Google is willing to place greater emphasis on those who are using 1+ button on their sites, it is the smart marketer in Dubai that gets her company profile up and running as soon as possible. We all know Google changes its search engine algorithm constantly, but if they want to push Google+, then it could well be that little button will weight your company more favourably in searches.

At the moment there aren’t a huge amount of people on Google+ who would be considered natural customers, but as nobody is sure how Google+ will progress, far better to have some presence now, rather than joining the party later.

Facebook is a different beast entirely to Google+ and when you are looking at how best to improve the social media marketing for your business, including both is a better bet than choosing one over the other.

Branding of Facebook pages has become necessary to the extent that some businesses are actually ditching their traditional websites and concentrating on what is termed F-Commerce, Facebook Commerce.

The reason behind this shift is the same as the reason markets and malls exist. That is, be where your customers can easily find you. If all your customers are on Facebook, why make them go off site to discover what you can offer them.

limahl

Do you "love plus one?"

Facebook is more than just a light site (sorry Google+ but so far so true) for professionals and business people to play around in. Facebook is a global economic, social, and political force. According to Facebook’s most recent figures, it adds an estimated €15.3 billion to the European economy. There is a panel discussion on the Economic Impact of Revolutions in the Middle East, which has its events page on Facebook. And just about everyone on the planet keeps up with friends and family through their personal profiles.

It’ll be a long time before Google+ comes anywhere close to the popularity of Facebook. At the moment it has a problem with people and companies not being entirely sure what it does and what it will become.

But while Google+ goes through its identity crisis, give your Dubai business a search engine boost by creating a profile and putting  +1 on every page of your website.

Sources:

Facebook Newsroom

http://newsroom.fb.com/

Social Commerce Today

http://socialcommercetoday.com/uk-pub-chain-ditches-web-for-facebook-traffic-up-2000-percent/

Google Search Engine

http://www.google.ae  or http://www.google.com

flamingo dubai

Birds of a feather #flock together.

Twitter has become one of the cornerstones of social media and, whether you live in downtown  Dubai or a farmstead in the Australian outback, you can talk to the world with a tap on the return key.

Since it’s birth in March 2006 (created by Jack Dorsey a software architecture named on of the top 35 innovators in the world by MIT’s Technology Review in 2008), Twitter has gone from zero to 300 million users in 2011.

So why so popular? Well, people like being sociable, and in the digital world so many people find themselves working in, taking out five minutes every hour or so makes you feel connected to the greater world.

And it’s turning out to be a great tool for businesses to talk directly to their customers. But you have to step lightly into this arena as a business, because one wrong, misdirected tweet can be a reputation spoiler.

For example, Habitat was left with a large dollop of egg on it’s face when it tried to piggy back the Iran elections with a dubious money saving offer tweet. The backlash was instant – Twitter leaves companies no place to hide. Even if you delete your tweet, someone, somewhere has already seen it and passed it on.

Now, this instantaneous passing on of information is awful if the message is wrong, however most companies believe that the re-tweeting of their message is the ultimate aim of being on Twitter. But that’s only a part of the story.

Twitter for business is a different game to personal tweeting. If you run a Dubai based business that is primarily a local service, getting re-tweeted by a guy in the USA to 30,000 followers will only be beneficial if some of his followers are based in Dubai.

Thinking local will really help when you start out on Twitter. Also, don’t just use twitter to talk only about your company, and what your company can do for others. Unless of course you are offering a free meal on a Thursday night, which may well get some interest going, there’s a fine balancing act to achieve.

Hash tags (#) are a wonderful way of localising your tweets. If you are in a particular street and something interesting is happening use a hash tag i.e.: guy juggling chainsaws on #alwasl #dubai! Which when accompanied by a picture will most likely get people looking, and maybe re-tweeting.

As a business you need to create a template for using Twitter. This way, whoever is in charge of the Twitter feed at any time keeps to a pre-set standard. Having a strong strategy before your very first tweet will enable you to keep on track and (hopefully) not commit a Habitat scale faux pas.

You also need to ensure that you are tweeting at a time when people are on twitter. Every industry will have it’s own optimum times, but as a general rule just after people have got to their desks, lunchtime and just before clocking off are good for the working day. You will find a natural rhythm over time and should test and test and test to see which Twitter times work best to reach your Dubai based customers and clients.

So here are few guidelines:

Don’t just tweet about your products.

  • Do talk about the wider business you’re in.
  • Be social, say hi to new followers.
  • Follow back those who choose to follow you – it’s good manners.
  • Re-tweet interesting and funny tweets you come across – but watch/listen/read all the way through just in case there is something highly offensive right at the end.
  • Use hash tags ‘#’ to localise your messages.
  • Tweet about your blog/new products/great service lightly.
  • Always thank people for re-tweeting your messages.

 

References:

 

@LinkedInQueen http://www.socialmediadelivered.com/

@Danzarella http:// http://danzarrella.com/

burj khalifa

AR 'at the top'!

On the hunt for more Augmented Reality (AR) in Dubai, I have recently come across a few more examples. The first is to be found at the tallest structure in Dubai, the Burj Khalifa.  On the 124th floor viewers can use a telescope to view a live stream of Dubai. If a location of interest within the field of view is selected then additional information will appear on a screen. At the moment this is limited to tourist attractions. Panadol , also ran an AR campaign to launch their new packaging in Mall of the Emirates (Talk Partnership).

Mapping projection is more prevalent in the region with examples of the Fanta Chase and the recent unveiling of Green Line metro in Dubai. Nabil Moutran,  the Regional Director from Ogilvy One explained that  the  reason AR hasn’t yet been strongly  picked up in this market as in other regions , is simply due to the fact that the new world of digitalisation from a marketing perspective is still being explored. He expects rapid growth to come in digital marketing as a whole. However, he emphasised that Ogilvy One, whilst constantly   looking for new technologies and methods to engage with consumers, considers the creative idea as central to brand marketing. If the idea then allows Ogilvy One to explore new tech such as AR, then it is proposed.

“We believe in innovation, but our focus remains on developing strong ideas.”

A strong and effective marketing idea is vital to the successful promotion of products or services and at the moment AR may not be the best delivery medium. Marketing ideas should be responsive to changes in the local markets and be able to adapt to local tastes and preferences.  However, if marketing firms in the region are not developing their digital marketing /AR expertise and looking towards the future then this may be a lost opportunity to become market leaders in technophilic Dubai.

Thanks to Roland for some AR spotting and Nabil Moutran from Ogilvy One ( responsible for Fanta Chase). An enthusiast at the top, Burj Khalifa.

The way we visualize our physical environment could be about to change thanks to progress made in applying augmented reality to our spaces. Augmented Reality allows information about your real environment to connect to a display interface (mobiles and eventually glasses) allowing added information (the augmented bit), multimedia, interaction and on-demand information to enhance your sensory experience of the world around you.  These enhanced AR systems can track and adjust to the users movements within their environment. It has already been around since the 90’s being used  in industries like the military, engineering, film and robotics but could it become the widespread and familiar experience to all of us?

Augmented raybans

Do you think my augmented Ray bans look OK?

Some of you may already be using geo-located AR through your mobiles overlaying information on your location to help you navigate your way around unfamiliar cities and choosing where to eat, gaming or watching sportscasts with an AR overlay but what are the prospects?

Ultimately it is envisaged that it  will change our cognitive experiences of space engaging us into it, helping  understand community, present and historical contexts allowing for greater interaction.There are some great examples of use and possible use e.g. Hoppola and Superimpose created a sensitive AR layer in Berlin bringing history back to life by recreating the Berlin Wall; the Oxford Natural History museum is working on their AR exploration of exhibits and an app may be soon available for i Phone to allow you to watch scenes from movies shot where you are located. Mass consumerism of this is not too far in the future and once a portable system has been developed combining display, tracking and hardware without any of the current issues there could be widespread application of AR. Current barriers include  getting the virtual world to map precisely with the real world (tracking) and merging seamlessly with user movements as well as creating a portable interface for the consumer that will be secure and universally operational .

So has AR arrived in Dubai yet and is there a market opportunity? I have been struggling to find examples but some Dubai residents and visitors may have seen the digital Memac Ogilvy’s Fanta Chase in Downtown Dubai earlier in 2011. Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) has a new i Phone application for visitors to promote tourism, do you know anyone using it? The recent release of Augmented Reality (AR) Platform for Android smart phones from Qualcomm will allow Dubai businesses, advertising agencies, gamers and educators to build applications based on their platform. What’s clear is that  Dubai marketeers will be using AR marketing more in the future.

Here are a few well known examples of innovative AR applications from around the world.

Heineken ( Taiwan)

Lego

Rayban Virtual Mirror Webcam

QR Codes or Quick Response codes are matrix bar codes that can be read by barcode readers and mobile cameras. They are easy to generate using free software courtesy of Kaywa amongst others. The reader can be downloaded directly from your mobile (if it is supported). There are many other code generators out there and you can code website URL’s/text/maps/telephone numbers/images or even sound files. Zoo Records demonstrated this beautifully with their Hidden Sounds campaign in Hong Kong.

Interested to see how businesses in Dubai are incorporating this new social medium into their marketing strategy, I spoke to Gaurav Sinha, Managing Director of innovative brand communication firm , Insignia.

“While QR codes are a great tool to create audience engagement, they are currently being used in this market to shorten the process of typing URL’s. At Insignia, we believe Augmented Reality applications are the way forward; creating engaging environments and bringing the brand experience directly to consumers.”

An example of QR codes in Dubai can be seen at Le Meridien Airport hotel allowing users to access restaurant facilities at the location. "QR codes for dining options" Other companies using the codes to target techno savvy customers are the Dusit hotel, Music Master and Ajman Bank. The Dusit hotel are using them to track interaction with its advertising in different mediums and for promoting special offers. Dubai Municipality is using QR codes to provide up to date and extensive information on each building or land plot in Dubai. Users can access a range of information about the building from safety inspection details, municipality procedures and planned land use. Whether the planned QR themed hotel designed by Sohne and Partner’s in Studio City goes ahead is another matter but many believe that QR codes offer limitless possibilities to deliver information straight to the consumer in a compelling way by connecting offline and online worlds. Obama may well be using QR codes in his next campaign for 2012, replicating Andrew Lang’s use in the Canadian elections earlier this year. What will your company be using them for?

For more examples of how QR codes are being used see the following article


Intriguing question posed by Nick Bennett in Social Media today. Dubai, never shy about new ideas is not lagging behind in its use of social media. Recent insights from Dubai School of Government reported that half of the UAE Emirati population uses Facebook and the UAE (accounting for its small size) is amongst the top ten worldwide users of Facebook. Facebook usage in the UAE stands at 2. 4 million users, 29% of the total population. Twitter penetration is not as high yet but has grown 50% in the first quarter of 2011. Active users in this same period tweeted approx. 23 million tweets. Social media usage has spiked considerably during recent and ongoing conflicts in the Middle East region. A spike was seen on twitter when President Mubarak left office on Feb 11, 2011.
Social Media marketing is definitely shaping the future in many sectors. Is your organisation connecting and listening to customers? Is your marketing strategy flexible enough to include their insights?
A good example is from Lego though it should come with a parental advisory sticker.

Connecting with clients