Carrington Malin

Plenty of content marketing opportunity for Middle East brands

With some 60 million Facebook users, 7 million Twitter users and some of the highest Youtube download rates in the world, it’s no secret that the Arab world has become a big online consumer of content. Social media has ceased to be solely the preserve of geeks and wealthy English-speaking college students and, today, the Middle East’s social media environment is far more representative of the region with millions of Arabic speakers taking part in conversations and sharing content across a wide range of demographics. Therefore it should come as no surprise that the rapid growth of social media has created a fertile ground for content creators.

The region’s appetite for local content has already made some digital content stars. The Arab Spring catapulted the blogs and social media profiles of Arab activists to the forefront in 2011. Over the past two years we’ve seen special interest blogs attract niche audiences, from food and fashion, to marketing and photography, to gaming and tech. However, the mother of all content has been video, with a growing list of video blogs and YouTube channels publishing original content and reaching huge audiences. According to Google, Internet users across the Middle East and North Africa currently view 310 million Youtube videos per day.

Saudi comedy YouTube channels EyshElly (ايش اللي), Sa7i (صاحي), Temsa7ly (التمساح) and Egyptian comedian Bassem Youssef’s channel Albernameg - all of which have sprung up over the past two years – have over 1 million subscribers (in fact, EyshElly and Albernameg have 2 million!). Last year, the comedy ‘No Woman, No Drive‘ Youtube video broke new records when it registered 10 million views in its first two weeks (as many as Korean pop star Psi’s Gangnam Style video received its first two weeks on Youtube). Few could have suspected, even two years ago, that the Arab world’s most successful comedy viral video would come out of a country listed in Western reports as an ‘enemy of the Internet’.

So, what’s sort of lesson does this provide for brands in the region trying to harness digital marketing? Perhaps, it is simply: the Internet rewards quality content. One thing is for sure, the demand for ill-conceived, poorly executed commercial content has not increased! Online audiences across the region seek out and gravitate towards engaging content that’s relevant to them. As a result, there are huge opportunities for brands to become content producers, aggregators, sponsors or distributors, playing a role in delivering compelling content to online audiences.

Note also that two C phrase – compelling content is not necessarily on brand or on message content, and certainly won’t conform to ideas and guidelines intended for pre-Internet dissemination. Investing in content that doesn’t focus on selling may seem like an anathema to many brands, however, the game has changed. Better to have a successful content programme that creates opportunities to sell than a message-perfect one that doesn’t engage your audience.

If you would like to look at how your brand can take advantage of digital opportunities in the Arab world contact us now.

Read more about content

Is Arab content really a lost cause? (Jan 2014)

Could your brand commit a content crime? (November 2013)

Create more compelling content (September 2013)

The problem with content (August 2013)

Time to revisit your brand positioning? (July 2013)

A wake-up call for aspiring citizen journalists in the UAE (July 2013)

Are you being genuine? (May 2013)

Posted in Blogging, brand marketing, Content, Facebook, Internet, Middle east, Middle East marketing, Online marketing, public relations, social media, strategy, Youtube | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,
Carrington Malin

Is Arab content really a lost cause?

It’s no secret that the Arab world has lagged behind in content creation. Conference speakers have been decrying the lack of Arabic language content for years. According to various sources, Arabic language content accounts for less than 3% of the content on the web (1%, 2.5% and 3% have been quoted), despite the fact that Arabic speakers account for 6-7 percent of the world’s population. According to Google, last year the volume of Arabic content dropped from 7th to 8th place compared with other languages. Is the Arab world really slipping behind in Internet content? The same region that shocked the world in 2011 by using new media content to help change the balance of political power?

Well, it could just be the changing nature of ‘power’ in our digital age that muddies statistics like these, together with the profound changes that have taken place in the way content is created and consumed. Although the percentage of Arabic content available is certainly germane to the continued development of the language, volume doesn’t equate to influence: and the desire to influence is a key driver of content creation in the Arab world. Just because the volume of space occupied by Arabic digital content doesn’t match other languages, doesn’t mean that the role of digital content in the Arab world isn’t getting more influential every day.

Content volume is also a product of frequency, format and size of content submissions. The consumer’s demands on content have changed fundamentally over the past twenty years. More than ever, we live in a world of sound-bites. Newspapers news stories (and TV news programmes) have gotten shorter over the years. The decline of book reading continues. Today’s consumers scan headlines, flip TV channels, browse social media feeds, watch short online videos and, quite often, do these things all at the same time.

Some would argue that we’ve actually seen an incredible surge in original content generation from the Arab world over the past five years, in Arabic, English and other languages. There are many different drivers for this – political, social, cultural, entrepreneurial. Social media platforms have provided a outlet for many that wouldn’t otherwise have a platform and the rise in political discourse online has been well reported on worldwide. However, there is also a groundswell of creativity as digital content creators, online entrepreneurs and brands create and inspire the creation of new locally-relevant content. It could be argued that people in the region are already more informed, inspired and entertained as a result.

If you would like to look at how your brand can take advantage of digital opportunities in the Arab world contact us now.

Read more about content

Could your brand commit a content crime? (November 2013)

Create more compelling content (September 2013)

The problem with content (August 2013)

Time to revisit your brand positioning? (July 2013)

A wake-up call for aspiring citizen journalists in the UAE (July 2013)

Are you being genuine? (May 2013)

Posted in brand marketing, Content, Disintermediation, Internet, Middle east, Middle East marketing, Publishing, social media | Tagged , , , , , , ,
Alexander McNabb

Saudi plans to regulate Youtube

Fallimha, a popular Saudi educational programme posted on Youtube

The Saudi government is planning to monitor and regulate YouTube and other online channels, having this week entrusted the task to its General Commission for Audiovisual Media, established last year to regulate the broadcast industry. There has even been talk of issuing permits to Youtube subscribers, which would appear to signal the introduction of a system of regulation governing posting videos to the service. How the commission would propose to undertake such a gargantuan task is not known. YouTube has become the entertainment channel of choice for a country whose state-run broadcasting has always struggled to reconcile highly conservative values with the need to amuse, inform and entertain its audience. In fact, Saudi Arabia’s love of Youtube and appetite for new media content has made the Kingdom the biggest per capita user of the platform in the world.

Since the technology was first introduced to the region in the mid-1990s, the Middle East has had a fraught history with the Internet. Initially highly resistant to the idea, different approaches were taken to the introduction of a network that many feared would bring unwanted influences to the region. The UAE opted for a proxy server which would block content at odds with ‘social, moral and cultural values’, Jordan rolled out the technology without censorship (and its society, it is worth noting in passing, did not collapse) and Saudi Arabia started out by blocking the entire network and then selectively ‘white labelling’ websites.

It’s hard to imagine that was nearly twenty years ago now – and yet much water has passed under the bridge. While initial fears that the Internet would tear apart traditional Middle Eastern society were allayed, it has undoubtedly wrought tectonic change in the region and brought a number of areas of civil society and polity into tremendous conflict.

One thing has become clear – was in fact clear right from the start. This thing isn’t going to go away. Increasingly, regional governments have struggled with quite what it all means – particularly as an increasingly empowered and networked populace has taken to the Web to express opinion, interact and even organise.

Legislators were faced with a genie already well out of the bottle – and a morphing, elastic and fast-moving genie at that. Existing media laws have been pushed into square holes in an attempt to map them to the Internet, an impossible task as the very nature of the Internet runs counter to the structures and realities of traditional media.

Nowhere has the struggle been more evident than in the region’s most conservative state: Saudi Arabia. However, some might say, that even discussing the idea of issuing permits to YouTube subscribers tends to point to a lack of understanding of the true issue underpinning these latest moves. You can’t stop an entire nation talking.

Useful references

Cabinet acts to regulate media content (Saudi Gazette, 10 December 2013)

Youtube censorship plans (Arab News, 10 December 2013)

New Saudi authority for the regulation of audio and visual media  (Al Tamimi & Co, March 2013)

Read more about media regulation

Could your brand commit a content crime? (November 2013)

A wake-up call for aspiring citizen journalists in the UAE (July 2013)

Are brands at risk from the UAE’s new cyber-crime law? (November 2012)

We are all publishers (March 2012)

The Freedom Meme (September 2011)

Who’s Afraid Of A Regulated Web? (May 2011)

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Posted in Content, Disintermediation, General, Internet, Middle east, social media, Youtube | Tagged , , , , , ,
Alexander McNabb

Why you need a media neutral strategy

Spot On has always been an advocate of media neutral strategies, to the point where we have frequently recommended clients take a completely different course to the one they originally envisaged in order to build campaigns that communicate their proposition effectively to their target audience. And that has not infrequently meant not even using media to communicate that message, but other forms of communication from conference events through to mall promotions through to simple word-of-mouth.

Our approach hasn’t really changed in that respect in today’s online world. We still back the idea of media neutral strategies, created with the customer at the centre of our thinking and built on solid objectives that create true measurability. Without a defined objective, any talk of measurement is wasted. Similarly, a strong strategy depends on having an objective to meet. Only now do we look at how we can best execute that strategy – what target audience we are looking at and how best to reach that audience with our message.

Of course, it’s rarely a one-off thing. One message communicated once to one person changeth not the world. Often we’ll be aiming at a stepped process that sets out to build change through consistent communication. That change – in a consumer’s buying habits, the perceptions of a given community or the opinions of a group of people – would typically come about as a benefit-led process and we tend to segment that in four main steps: awareness, acceptance, understanding and advocacy.

The way in which we communicate that change is set by the target audience at a given time (most of our work involves more than one audience), whether that audience is positively or negatively elective or defined by segmentation. A media neutral approach is all the more important in today’s digital world when the platform and the message can change quickly and the emphasis is on conversation and dialogue rather than targeted outreach – and where direct communication is increasingly taking the place of media relations in the tactical toolkit.

The final piece in the media selection puzzle is us. Consumers. Increasingly, we are choosing the channels we use to communicate with each other – and brands. And we can be surprisingly fickle: Pinterest went from nowhere to global phenomenon within months, while the move to mobile has created new heroes – and zeroes. In fact, consumers will use different platforms at different times for different reasons. The challenge for a brand is to be where the consumer wants them, when the consumer wants them and with the information the consumer wants. For the investment in that effort to make sense, each touchpoint should create value for the brand as well as the consumer – and to do that, a strategy needs to be in place that ensures consistent communication with an objective in mind. That strategy needs to cut across every touchpoint, online or offline. And so it needs to be media neutral.

If you’d like some thoughts on how this applies to your brand and, perhaps, some impartial advice about where your brand directs its marketing effort feel free to contact me on alexm(at)spotonpr(dot)com.

Read more about our strategy workshops

Strategy development workshops

Read more about marketing

Create more compelling content (September 2013)

The problem with content (August 2013)

Time to revisit your brand positioning? (July 2013)

Counting clicks (June 2013)

Intelligent use of social media (June 2013)

Are you being genuine? (May 2013)

A modern marketing manifesto (April 2013)

Marketing after the click (March 2013)

Social media marketing in the UAE (February 2012)

Should you outsource your conversation? (January 2011)

Is social media really that important for marketers in the Arab World? (October 2010)

The Sustainable Corporation (September 201)

Posted in Customers, Internet, Middle East marketing, Online marketing, research, social media, strategy |
Carrington Malin

Could your brand commit a content crime?

News media in the United Arab Emirates have reported this week that posting images or video of someone in the Emirates without their consent is a crime punishable by up to AED 500,000 (about US$136,000) and a prison sentence of up to six months (read The National’s story here). To those familiar with the UAE’s media laws, this is not news, but, as we’ve mentioned before, these days we are all publishers and with that status come many of the responsibilities that traditional media houses have had to bear for years. In the age of Facebook, anyone that publishes a photograph of someone without their explicit permission is at some risk of falling foul of the law and could even be considered a criminal.

At first, the prospect of being thrown in jail for posting someone’s photo on Facebook may seem faintly ridiculous, after all, posting images of friends, family, events and other gatherings online is now commonplace. However, most countries have established laws governing intellectual property rights, privacy and defamation that are being brought to the fore with the increasing volume of images and video being published online. In the UAE, a new cybercrime law was introduced in November 2012 spelling out all the online activities that would be considered criminal, which included the posting images, video or other materials that might cause the “unwarranted violation of privacy of others”. In the absence of written permission from the person portrayed, it is the police and ultimately the courts who decide whether your post can be classified as a crime (i.e. the law does not require that the person whose rights may have been infringed brings a case to court). As evidenced by the story of the citizen journalist who allegedly witnessed a road-rage crime in Dubai earlier this year, the police do have the right to lock you up if your content breaks the law.

It is, perhaps, not very likely that your brand will be subject to a criminal prosecution as a result of inadvertently publishing an image that the law considers illegal, but there is a risk: and the more images you post online, the higher that risk is. Brands are likely to be most at risk when they’re posting content featuring customers, staff and other members of the public. Let’s face it, with so many brands eager to celebrate their customers online, social media marketing is pulling the other way from traditional advertising and marketing that routinely seeks multiple approvals for absolutely everything.

What’s the risk? It’s a common assumption for companies that they don’t need to get employees to sign permission waivers simply because they are employees. It’s also fairly common for brands to take customers at their word (if they say they’re happy to have their photograph taken, why bother with getting their signature on a image rights form?). In reality, simply taking a photo of your well-attended product launch or people looking at your exhibition stand and posting it on Facebook is a brand risk, albeit a small one.

So, does this leave brands completely hogtied when it comes to image sharing on social networks? In our opinion, this shouldn’t be the case even if some potential for risk exists from time to time, but having a durable communications policy appropriate for digital media is a must. For most businesses, having clear policies, adopting best communications practices and ensuring good content management minimises risks from posting content. Conversely, not taking the time to develop clear content policies and processes does leave your brand open to more risk. Ignorance is no defence in the eyes of the law.

See also, Alexander McNabb’s post on this news story on his own blog Fake Plastic Souks.

Contact us

If you would like help with your content strategy contact us now.

Listen to Alexander’s radio interview

Dubai Eye 103.8FM’s Drive Live show talked to Alexander McNabb about the UAE Ministry of Interior’s warning to social media users. Listen to the interview here.

Read more about brand content

Create more compelling content (September 2013)

The problem with content (August 2013)

Time to revisit your brand positioning? (July 2013)

A wake-up call for aspiring citizen journalists in the UAE (July 2013)

Are you being genuine? (May 2013)

Posted in brand marketing, Content, Customers, Disintermediation, Facebook, Internet, Middle east, Middle East marketing, Online marketing, Publishing, social media | Tagged , , , , , , , ,
Carrington Malin

GITEX Digital Strategies Forum

Spot On’s Alexander McNabb will be chairing the Digital Strategies Forum in Dubai next week, which takes place on Wednesday 23 October 2013 during GITEX Technology Week 2013.  The conference agenda will take delegates through global digital consumer trends, digital marketing strategy and planning, customer relationship management (CRM), mobile marketing and ways to increase customer engagement.

Alexander will also be presenting ‘Building an effective digital strategy’ at the forum, during which he aims to provide some insights on how to start developing your digital strategy, what disciplines to consider and how to approach metrics and measurement.

You’ll find the full agenda and list of speakers for the Digital Strategies Forum on the GITEX website here and you can register to attend the conference (at a cost of AED 1,495) here. Meanwhile, if you’d like to connect with the speakers and panelists attending the Forum, here’s a list with their Twitter and Linkedin links!

Digital Strategies Forum Speakers & Panelists

Alexander McNabb
Director, Spot On PR  

Danny Karam
Principle, Booz & Company  

Nadia Gonzalez
Vice President at Mobile Marketing, Gemalto 

Rajen Lakhani
CMO, Gamified Labs  

Juan Dela Torre
Vice President, Intigral   

Gail Livingstone-Potter
General Manager,   

Amro Khoudeir
Digital Marketing Manager, Jumeirah Group   

Kate Fairhurst
VP of Global Partnerships, ScribbleLive   

Saeid Hejazi
CEO, Wally  

Derrick Pereira
Digital Solutions Manager, Explorer Publishing  

Eamonn Carey
Head of Digital/Advisor, MHP Communications   

Omar Ali Marosh
IT Specialist, Ajman Land & Property Department

Julien Chenelat
Digital Lead, Deloitte Middle East   

Tom Roychoudhury
Chief Innovations Officer, MCN   

Martin Kubler
General Manager, Iconsulthotels   

Ashish Panjabi
COO, Jackys   

Graham Thomas
Founder of Radical   

Hijazi Natsheh
Head of Marketing, Cleartrip   

Brendon Ogilvy
Regional MD-MEA, Effective Measure   

Tarek El Goweiny
General Manager, NCC Group   

Sanjay Sharma
Principal Architect, Emirates Group IT   

Ahmed El Rayes
Founder and CEO, Gamfield Labs  

The Digital Strategies Forum is sponsored by Gemalto  and ScribbleLive 

* Speakers and panelists are listed above in order of appearance on the GITEX Digital Strategies Forum Agenda. 

If you’re a Twitter users, do check out @spotonpr‘s Twitter list of speakers and panelists and if you’re tweeting about or from the forum, please hashtag #GITEXDigital.

Updated 22 October 2013

Contact us

If you’d like to contact Alexander McNabb about the Digital Strategies Forum, you can do so via email at alexanderm(at)spotonpr(dot)com or via Twitter at @AlexanderMcNabb.

Read more about digital marketing

Create more compelling content (September 2013)

The problem with content (August 2013)

Time to revisit your brand positioning? (July 2013)

Counting clicks (June 2013)

Intelligent use of social media (June 2013)

Are you being genuine? (May 2013)

A modern marketing manifesto (April 2013)

Posted in Content, CRM, Customers, Disintermediation, General, Internet, Internet research, Middle east, Middle East marketing, Mobile, Online marketing, research, social media, strategy | Tagged , , , , , , , ,
Alexander McNabb

Has news journalism been sabotaged by Twitter?

Oops! Sorry, was that your news story?

Talking Twitter on the Business Breakfast is always a pleasure and this morning no less so than usual. The question was, “Has news journalism been sabotaged by Twitter?” and my answer was pretty much a resounding “Yes!”

There are three major problems with Twitter and news journalism, I think. One is the challenge of real-time – rushing to try and get the story out at Twitterspeed means out of the window goes all that careful fact checking and old-fashioned concepts like two sources. And, really, our tweeting journalist is no different to a tweeting bystander.

Listen to the full Dubai Eye 103.8FM Business Breakfast discussion via podcast

The second is sourcing. Sourcing a story from Twitter (my personal pet hate is the practice of re-contextualising a few gripey tweets and running with “Twitter Outrage At Man Found Dead In Graveyard”) is a dangerous thing, indeed. If you’re close to the coalface and know the witness personally (as, indeed, a few years ago Jess Swann and I were to eyewitness Albert Dias, who helped us break the National Paints fire story in dramatic fashion on Dubai Eye radio) you’re good, but Twitter is effectively Lorentzian – the further you get away from the source (which happens with blinding speed) – the more chaotic the chatter gets. This is not just a Twitter issue – look at the problems of sourcing video and other materials from Syria news organisations have faced.

The third is the role of the eyewitness. As we discussed on the program this morning, instead of rushing to help these days, people are rushing to record. I shudder at the thought the last thing on earth young Neda Agha, the Iranian girl killed during protests a couple of years back, saw was a Nokia logo shoved in her face. By amplifying and, yes, encouraging eyewitness reports, traditional media is in danger of impelling citizens into situations of danger. Again, that’s not just a Twitter thing, as we mentioned on the show today’s concert goer can’t see the stage for a sea of smartphones held up to record the event people should really be experiencing rather than filming to share on Facebook.

But the real kicker is the way we, the consumer, are taking on board news and events. We mix traditional media with non-traditional, eye-witness reports with unfettered opinion and have evolved new ways to editorialise the news and information we’re exposed to. Nobody depends on a single source for all their news anymore. Which is rather ripping the guts out of traditional media revenue models.

Alexander was also interviewed on this subject by Dubai One TV earlier this year. You can watch the video in this blog post: Twitter and the news media.

Need help?

If you would like help with your brand’s social media strategy, or, indeed, your news organisation’s social media strategy contact us now.

Read more about Twitter

Happy birthday @spotonpr (September 2013)

MENA Twitter Lists (July 2013)

Causing a stir: Twitter and the news media (January 2013)

How ‘social’ was GITEX 2012? (21 October 2012)

GITEX 2012 Social Buzz (8 October 2012)

#StopTimeOutDubai rings alarm bells (25 July 2012)

Five Smarter Tweeting Tips (22 January 2012)

Should you outsource your conversation? (19 January 2011)

Twitter & Customer Service Survey (29 March 2010)

Follow us on Twitter

Follow Spot On PR on Twitter


Posted in Content, Disintermediation, Internet, Middle east, Newspapers, social media, Twitter | Tagged , , , , , , ,
Alexander McNabb

Create more compelling content

Is your content ready for the wild?

Five questions to ask your content before you let it go into the wild

The Internet these days is getting pretty busy. There are millions of us out there churning out words and adding them to the growing pile for dumpster diver Google to sift through and select whenever someone has a question. How can you ensure your words count and aren’t just another addition to the heap – especially when you’re creating content with a business objective in mind?

Here are five questions to ask your content before you let it go into the wild…

1) What’s the headline?

If the headline doesn’t sound great to you, you’ve got some worries to kick off with. A headline should encapsulate the very essence of what you’re trying to communicate and it needs to have impact, yet at the same time it can’t lie about what it’s pointing people to – it has to deliver. Ideally, it’ll make sense from an SEO perspective so your work is searchable, but you have to make sure the headline isn’t already overused by other websites, otherwise you’re competing in a race you can’t win. At the other end of the process, don’t forget tags. And don’t raise your eyes up to heaven at me, you’d be shocked at how many, otherwise smart, organisations don’t tag their content effectively.

2) How does this change me?

What are you offering to tell me that is in some way different, challenging, insightful or informative and how will it improve me? It should really boil down to a single, powerful thing or a small number of things based around the same premise that I can easily digest and get value from. If there’s no value on offer, it’s time to rethink your content and what you’re trying to achieve by creating it.

Lists of stuff (yes, like this one!) are all very well, by the way, but you can overdo it. We like list posts, we all do – but a list a day is not the well balanced way. Mix it up and look at different ways to get your point across, different viewpoints and presentations.

3) Will I share it?

Content made for your consumers to share is your ultimate goal. You want people talking about you, offering your insights and experience on to others, thereby giving you their effective endorsement. Remember how hard PRs used to try for endorsement in the good old days? Well, you’re still aiming for it, but in the form of sharing. If your content isn’t shareable, it’s back to the drawing board. Why would I share this? Is the one question you need to ask when you’re reviewing any proposed content offering.

4) Is this the best format?

Could this be better expressed as a video? An infographic? Even better – could we consider versions of it across a number of formats? Have we got something so good we can discuss it in more depth on video, headline it on Twitter, outline it on Facebook and get to grips with it in a blog post?

5) What’s the call to action here?

Whether it’s a standalone opportunistic ‘hit’ or a carefully planned part of a series of communications, your content needs to lead to something measurable so there should be a call to action – whether that be a link to further reading, a related article or even a straight click or call to discuss a product or service related to the content. It could be as simple as a plea to consider a different behaviour, but the point is there should be something at the end that people can do as a result of what they’ve just learned from you and benefit in some way.

Now, if you found this useful don’t just thank me or buy me expensive presents – SHARE it! :)

Contact us

If you would like help with your content strategy contact us now.

Read more about content

The problem with content (August 2013)

Time to revisit your brand positioning? (July 2013)

A wake-up call for aspiring citizen journalists in the UAE (July 2013)

Are you being genuine? (May 2013)

Flipboard and the future of content (April 2013)

Posted in Blogging, Content, Facebook, General, Internet, Linkedin, Middle east, Middle East marketing, Online marketing, public relations, SEO, social media, strategy, Twitter, Youtube | Tagged , , , ,
Carrington Malin

Happy birthday @spotonpr (tomorrow)

It’s five years ago tomorrow that Spot On PR joined Twitter! We haven’t bought a birthday cake or anything and we’re not asking for any presents either, but it does give us some pause for thought. A lot has happened in those five years. Barack Obama had just become a presidential nominee five years ago. Egypt, Tunisia and Libya were still ruled by the old guard that had ruled them for many, many years. And new website called Facebook had just hit the 100 million user mark.

Facebook had already piqued some interest from the advertising and marketing world as traffic to the site continued to grow fast.  Many had yet to grasp the fact that the value of Internet traffic was also changing fast. The media became obsessed with Facebook’s site traffic and its ups and downs, sort of missing the point that the fast growing subscriber base and development of the platform was way, way more important that fluctuations in visitor statistics. Meanwhile, Twitter, which had just reached 3 million users worldwide, was the geeky, minority interest platform that was a nice idea, but probably wasn’t going to go the distance. And, of course, no-one had the slightest idea that Facebook and Twitter would help catalyse the Arab Spring.

The Spot On team had been busily experimenting with Twitter since it was unblocked by Etisalat in August 2008. We didn’t have all the answers (no-one did, which was part of the strong appeal that social media held for us), but we already felt very strongly that Twitter was part of our future. Twitter had just a few hundred users in the Middle East during those first few months (and a year later, just a few thousand). However, we had all opened our own Twitter accounts, had begun networking like crazy with fellow tweeps around the world and were already questioning how Twitter was going to work for business. Although there was undoubtedly business value in using our personal Twitter handles, there was also a rub. How did commentary about our own personal lives sit alongside tweets about our business? And who was going to tweet the corporate stuff that was important to our agency business, but wasn’t really consistent with our individual personas?

At a time when all conventional wisdom advised very strongly that ‘brands don’t tweet, people do’, @spotonpr was born as a voice of the brand. Whilst Twitter been proven to be an eternal learning exercise for us, it has also brought us great rewards and opportunities to help others every now and again. We’ve discovered clients, business partners, employees, journalists and friends. We’ve sold stories, hooked up with opportunities, arranged meetings and interviews and shared news. We’ve also helped raise money for charity, draw attention to issues and helped connect folks for worthy causes. All in under 140 characters!

Thank you Twitter!

Need help?

If you would like help with your brand’s social media strategy contact us now.

Read more about Twitter

MENA Twitter Lists (July 2013)

Causing a stir: Twitter and the news media (January 2013)

How ‘social’ was GITEX 2012? (21 October 2012)

GITEX 2012 Social Buzz (8 October 2012)

#StopTimeOutDubai rings alarm bells (25 July 2012)

Five Smarter Tweeting Tips (22 January 2012)

Should you outsource your conversation? (19 January 2011)

Twitter & Customer Service Survey (29 March 2010)

Follow us on Twitter

Follow Spot On PR on Twitter

Posted in brand marketing, Internet, Middle East marketing, Online marketing, social media, Twitter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,
Alexander McNabb

UAE is world smartphone leader

Call that a headline? "UAE is world smartphone leader" - now that's a headline!

The United Arab Emirates leads the world in smartphone penetration, with 74% of mobile subscribers carrying one of the natty little devils in their pockets. The Emirates is closely followed by South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Singapore and Norway in the ranking, compiled by Statista from the results of Google’s ‘Our Global Planet’ survey.

Amazingly, the US comes 13th on the list – and apart from Saudi Arabia, none of the other GCC countries – legendary for their adoption of the latest mobile technologies – feature in the top 15 countries Statista lists.

The survey this data comes from was carried out earlier this year as part of a global ‘deep dive’ by Google and the UAE data, from a sample of 500 mobile users surveyed online, contains some remarkable insights into the behaviour of the UAE’s smartphone-toting consumer. For a start, we’re a nation of scratchers – 73% of users had prepaid packages – and yet we’re canny with how we use those data plans: 85% of users said they connected via Wi-Fi rather than the public network. And yet we’re pretty aggressively online – some 77% of smartphone users surveyed accessed the internet at least daily and 66% multiple times per day. In all, 56% of users had used the Internet on their smartphones every day in the past week.

The most popular uses for the devices was browsing the Internet (76%), email (74%), sharing a photo or video (77%) and accessing social networks (70%). It’s perhaps no surprise that of those surveyed who accessed a social network on their smartphones, 62% did so multiple times daily.

We’re using fewer smartphones per capita, apparently: 43% of those surveyed had two mobiles – a figure that’s down from last year, when Google found 53% of users with bulging phone-filled pockets. Could this be a sign that users are settling down to their platform preferences?

There’s good news in the survey for app developers, too – 46% of those surveyed had ten or more apps installed on their smartphones – and over 80% used mobile apps every day.

Finally, it would appear most UAE businesses aren’t seeing the full potential of mobile consumers. While few businesses have mobile communications strategies, over 80% of users Google surveyed have clicked on an advertisement on their mobile or looked for more information on a product or service as a result of seeing an advertisement on their smartphones. Some 58% of users had visited a business after performing a search on their smartphones and 68% had made a purchase transaction on their smartphones in the last month. That’s in the UAE, people – these are your consumers we’re talking about, not some foreign ‘more advanced’ market.

You can download the research data and Google’s Our Mobile Planet reports here.

If you don’t have a mobile communications strategy in place, maybe you’d like to use your smartphone to get in touch with Spot On and we can have a chat? You can email me on alexanderm(at)spotonpr(dot)com

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Spirit of the Arab world (December 2012)

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