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

Contact us

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

Read more about research & statistics

Spirit of the Arab world (December 2012)

Posted in 3G, Applications, brand marketing, Content, E-commerce, Internet, Internet research, Marketing, Middle east, Middle East marketing, Mobile, Online marketing, research, SEO, social media, VAS | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Carrington Malin

The problem with content

A content thief caught in the act yesterday

One of today’s persistent business challenges is protecting and monetising content and digital intellectual property. The Internet is great at providing tools to display content and make it accessible to millions across the world. However, that same global access combined with Internet technologies’ ease-of-use make it all the easier to copy, abuse and misuse content – wittingly or unwittingly.

With the rise of social media and as the number of people involved in online communications in many organisations continues to grow, big brands are using third party content without licence to do so all the time. To be fair, it’s a difficult thing for a brand to police. Creativity and original content are assets many brands are trying to encourage within the organisation, realising the engagement potential of great content and not wanting to be held as a hostage to fortune by making external agencies responsible for all content creation. However, one of the things the advertising and marketing industry has done quite well over the years is protecting intellectual property rights, deterring copycats and plagiarists and educating generations of communications professionals on the importance of original content.

Unfortunately, appointing an agency to develop your online content and communications isn’t always a sure-fire way of avoiding copyright infringements either. How can you tell whether that freelance copy-writer that your agency contracted to write your website copy actually wrote 100% of the content submitted and didn’t borrow a few convenient choice phrases from someone else’s site? And, if you’re in an industry that’s especially well written about, does deliberately setting out to avoid using all known phrases used by competitors actually help your brand in the end?

There can be an equally thorny issue to tackle in trying to protect your valuable content after investing so heavily in it. There are services such as HTMLGuard and WP-CopyProtect that stop Internet users copy-pasting your website or blog content. However, these are unlikely to deter those that are truly committed to copying your content for ill-gotten commercial gain. And besides, how many brands these days want to stop people sharing their content? Most brands are investing in encouraging people to do quite the opposite.

Due, in part, to the ever-growing, ever changing dynamics of the Internet there are no total solutions here. The wisest policy is to actually have a policy.

- Develop brand positioning, style guidelines and a communications policy to help you ensure that all content developed for your brand is consistent. People may try to copy your content, but they’re much less likely to copy your content development process.

- Make sure that you state clearly what content is copyright, who owns the rights and, where appropriate, how the content can be used or shared by your key audiences.

- Do make sure to check your website and other promotion content for plagiarism. There’s a difference between using common industry phrases and ripping off someone else’s marketing copy, the latter will not generally endear your brand to potential customers if found out.

- Know how your images are sourced, where they are procured from and if you have the rights for those images to use them as they are being used. Keep a record. You may find that you want to re-use images or video purchased under licence for a different purpose later and without a record of the rights that you’ve purchased, you won’t know what the content rights are or limitations of the licence.

- From time to time, it’s also worthwhile to check where your content ends up. Sooner or later, someone’s going to borrow some of your content and use it without your permission. If you don’t know about it, then you can’t decide what action to take.

Issues concerning copyright and content misuse are only going to get more complicated as more brands look to content-marketing to promote themselves and technologies that support content creation and curation continue to develop. So, the more your brand is likely to invest in content, the more important it will be to have strong policies and procedures in place for the future.

Spot On can help you not only develop those policies and procedures, we can help with content creation and content management, too.

Contact us

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

Read more about content

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 brand marketing, competition, Content, General, Internet, Middle East marketing, Online marketing, public relations, social media | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,
Carrington Malin

Time to revisit your brand positioning?

Positioning development exercises have been part of our tool-set for many years and we’ve often found them to be voyages of discovery for both us and the brand in question. More often than not, the brief is to review quite minor adjustments to the brand’s messaging and, nine times out of ten, the process ends up identifying fundamental changes to the company’s core proposition and business case. Typically, companies identify the need to revisit their brand positioning during periods of transition or change, such as the development of new product or service lines, mergers and acquisitions or simply the maturation of their business. Well, here’s another big transition that could affect your positioning: moving your business online.

The demands of promoting your business across digital platforms can expose all the little cracks and disparities in your positioning and messaging. It’s never been easier for people to compare your brand’s positioning with your competitors’ or for them to spot inconsistencies in your proposition. When it’s all spelled out in black and white (or whatever colour your website text is!), what you don’t say can communicate as much as what you do. How many websites have you seen for brands that boast about their experienced management team, but don’t tell you who their managers are? Or brands that stake their reputation on personal service and invite you to contact them via an anonymous email address?

Social media also stretches, pulls and pokes at brand positioning. Brands can no longer rely on their carefully worded phraseology to correctly position them. Social media users abbreviate, edit and re-write. They’re not obliged to spell your brand name using special characters. They’re not going to avoid using the words that your marketing team thinks are too commonplace for your brand. In fact, online or offline, your reputation is shaped by what people understand and believe about your business. And they’ll communicate with – and talk about – your brand based on what they understand. However, in the age of social media, this means that they’ll also create and share content based on this understanding: content that will appear in search results alongside your own.

The Internet has often been called the great leveler. And level it does! It stacks your business alongside many others, whether you want to be compared with them or not. It helps people find businesses via common keywords, regardless of the clever words used in their positioning statements. And it allows people to copy, plagiarise and mimic to make their brands sound more impressive than they are. Your brand has to communicate clearly and articulately through this mess or be lost in it, differentiating itself from competitors, copycats and charlatans.

When was the last time you reviewed your brand’s positioning? If you’d like help and some impartial advice about reviewing your brand’s positioning feel free to contact me on carringtonm(at)spotonpr(dot)com or Alexander McNabb on alexanderm(at)spotonpr(dot)com

Read more about our strategy workshops

Strategy development workshops

Read more about marketing

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 brand marketing, competition, Content, Customers, E-commerce, Internet, Middle East marketing, public relations, social media | Tagged , , , , , ,
Carrington Malin

A wake-up call for aspiring citizen journalists in the UAE (and lessons for Middle East marketers)

The widely published still image of July's Dubai road-rage Youtube video that's been used by news media worldwide.

The story is now well known and has received media coverage around the world. An incident of road rage in Dubai captured on video by a bystander and posted online inadvertently breaches United Arab Emirates laws, resulting in the arrest of the citizen journalist a couple of days later, even though he removed the video shortly after uploading it to Youtube.

Shock and outrage was the reaction of many Emiratis and expatriates living in the UAE to the video, as it was of media and media audiences worldwide. However, unpleasant though the video is, why did this video shock? Much worse things happen in the Middle East. Perhaps this video is shocking because UAE citizens are rarely depicted in such a light. One could also argue that, regardless of the truth of the matter, this incident reinforces old stereotypes of life in the Gulf, the status of local citizens and the lot of low income expatriates. According to UAE’s The National, Major General Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina, deputy chief of Dubai Police was careful to point out the actions shown in the video were not representative of the UAE’s culture and tradition, and that despite the alleged attacker being a government official, “no one is above the law”.

The arrest of the citizen journalist has prompted outrage, too. However, police arrests, criminal and civil court cases over Internet content have now become quite common place across the Middle East, even in the culturally tolerant UAE. So, if it’s possible for someone to be sued for defamation over a 140-character tweet, why is it a shock that someone is arrested over a controversial video? Part of the reason, is surely the poor public understanding of the relevant laws in the UAE governing such content: laws that, before the last wave of social media platforms, were mainly the concern of publishers and broadcasters.

Online content is considered by governments around the region as published content, whether it comes from a media house or not, making it subject to state law including media laws, cyber crime laws and the applicable penal code. If you publish an image or video of someone without their knowledge you may be at risk of civil action. Publish something about a crime, true or not, and you could be liable under criminal law. Publish content that could be considered defamatory and you could be at risk from both civil and criminal prosecution. In an age when atrocities, violence and public events are posted online with such frequency (and often shared with good intent), it’s perhaps easy for concerned bystanders to forget momentarily that their Internet activity is largely bound by laws of the country that they are living in, not some greater good. However, the law is the law.

So, what lessons does this provide for brand marketers? Legal concerns long helped deter brands in the region from embracing social media. However, as Facebook became part of people’s daily lives, many companies seem to take the view that social media content is fairly harmless unless it criticises their brand directly. This may be more often true than not, but brands would do well to pay close attention to local laws governing intellectual property rights, confidentiality, privacy, defamation and their responsibilities as an online publisher. Online content doesn’t have to be headline news to fall foul of the law.

See also, Alexander McNabb’s post on the road rage assault video on his own blog Fake Plastic Souks.

Useful references

Defamation and Social Media in the UAE (Clyde&Co, September 2013)

Developments in the UAE Cyber Crimes Law (Al Tamimi & Co, May 2013)

Media Laws and Regulation (UAE National Media Council)

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

Full text of the 2012 cyber crime law (Gulf News, 12 November 2013)

Want to read more?

If you liked reading this post about digital media and regulation, you may also like the following:

Could your brand commit a content crime? (November 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 Blogging, brand marketing, Content, Facebook, General, Internet, Linkedin, Middle east, Middle East marketing, Online marketing, public relations, Publishing, social media, Twitter, Youtube | Tagged , , , , , , , ,
Carrington Malin

MENA Twitter lists

Spot On's Alexander McNabb talking to Dubai One TV about Twitter and the news media (Jan/13).

As our Twitter friends will know, Spot On is a big fan of Twitter and was one of the first brands to begin using the social media platform in the Middle East and North Africa. Over the years Twitter has helped us meet new people and brands from all over the world, find job candidates, get introduced to new clients, pitch PR stories, raise money for worthy causes, help others connect on Twitter, launch events and much more.

Of course, as a brand, we’re on Twitter for selfish reasons. Twitter helps Spot On promote its name, services and interests to more people than we could ever talk to one:one. However, we’re also believers in ‘giving back’, sharing useful information and helping others to receive recognition. One of our ongoing Twitter initiatives is @spotonpr‘s Twitter lists. We up-date these lists frequently, add new ones from time to time and have added nearly 4,000 Twitter users to our public Twitter lists to-date.

Here are some of our most popular Twitter lists:

Arab Comedy - Arab comedians, comic actors, stand-ups, Arabic comedy & comedy tweeps in the Arab world.

Arab Film - People or companies involved in creating, funding or publicising movies in or about the Arab world.

Arab Literature - Authors, writers, critics, publishers & promoters of Arab literature.

ArabNet 2013 DXB Speakers - Speakers and panelists from the ArabNet Digital Summit 2013 in Dubai, UAE (24-26 June 2013).

MENA Online Shopping - Online shopping sites in the Middle East & North Africa on Twitter.

MENA PR People - Public relations people from, in or responsible for PR activities in the Middle East & North Africa.

MENAPhotographers - Photographers from or working in the Arab world (Middle East & North Africa).

Middle East CXOs - CEOs, CIOs, CMOs, Presidents & other exec directors of companies in the Middle East & North Africa.

Middle East News (Arabic) - Spot On PR’s pick of Arabic media news sources on Twitter for the Arab world.

Middle East News (Eng) - Spot On PR’s pick of English language media news sources on Twitter for the Arab world.

MiddleEastBrands - Private sector, public sector & product/service brands on Twitter in the Middle East & North Africa.

New to Twitter?

If you’re new Twitter, you might be wondering what Twitter lists are for. We create these lists to help people find other Twitter users to connect with or to find interesting updates. Follow a list if you want to see all updates from the list in your own tweet stream. Browse list members for Twitter users that you might like to follow. Or return to @spotonpr‘s Twitter Lists page whenever you want to get an update from any particular list and click on the list to see the tweets. Also see our Twitter resources page.

Note: It perhaps goes without saying that these Twitter lists are not 100% accurate and there are surely tweeps missing from our different lists (in fact, Twitter limited Twitter lists to 500 members until a few weeks ago). So, please don’t hesitate to recommend additions to @spotonpr via Twitter if you see tweeps that are missing!

Need help?

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

Read more about Twitter

Alexander McNabb Has news journalism been sabotaged by Twitter? (September 2013)

Happy birthday @spotonpr (September 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, Content, E-commerce, Internet, Middle east, Middle East marketing, Online marketing, social media, Twitter | Tagged , , , , , , ,
Carrington Malin

See you at ArabNet!

Spot On is proud to be one of the event partners for the ArabNet Digital Summit 2013, which takes place at Atlantis – The Palm, Dubai this week from Monday 24 to Wednesday 26 June this week. As noted by Alexander McNabb on the Spot On blog a few weeks ago, ArabNet launched in Beirut in 2010 and quickly established itself the Middle East and North Africa’s premier regional digital event. It’s the one event that brings together the talent, money and technology to talk about digital initiatives. And business is done.

Alexander will be both speaking at ArabNet and chairing a number of panel sessions at the conference. Here’s where you’ll find him during the conference:

Banking Solutions Panel Session, Hall B (Open Session)

10:45AM to 11:30AM, Tuesday 25 June 2013

More than half a billion people are expected to engage in mobile banking transactions by 2016, with 1 in 10 mobile users paying their bills via their mobiles. Smart ATMs are increasingly allowing customers to execute complex transactions with ease and convenience, and banks are leveraging social media as a promotional and customer service channel. This session explores how digital, mobile and social technologies are transforming the business of banking.


Kieran O’Sullivan, Regional Managing Director, MENA, HeathWallace
Graham Thomas, Co-founder, Radical Company
Pedro Cardoso, Head of Multichannel & CRM, Emirates NBD

Moderator: Alexander McNabb, Director, Spot On PR

Growing Digital Ad Spend Roundtable, Atlas Boardroom (Closed Session)

9:30AM-10:30 AM, Wednesday 26 June 2013

The ArabNet roundtable on Growing Digital Ad Spend brings 20 leading advertisers, media agencies, experts and digital advertising platforms together for a closed-door session on how to grow the Middle East and North Africa region’s digital advertising market. Digital ad spend is growing 37% year-on-year in MENA, but from a relatively low base. Participants will debate the role played by agencies, publishers and online media in helping advertisers to take advantage of digital opportunities.

Chaired by: Alexander McNabb, Director, Spot On PR

Women’s Content, Branded Content Panel Session, Hall A (Open Session)

5:15 PM to 6:15 PM, Wednesday 26 June 2013

Online Arabic content for women is one of the hottest sectors in the digital media business, with Diwanee raising $3.2M recently to grow their female-focused portals. Branded content has emerged as a very strong engagement strategy for brands, and monetization strategy for publishers. This session looks at what’s popular in women’s content online and how publishers and advertisers are collaborating in the space between content and advertising. If content is king, perhaps branded content is queen.


Ellen Van Meerendonk, Strategic Solutions Director, Yahoo!
Mohammad Al Harthi, Editor-in-Chief, Sayidaty & Arab News
Zoya Sakr, Co-Founder and Group Editor in Chief, 2Pure
Nancy Anis, Head of Consumer Connection & Digital Marketing, Danone Baby Nutrition
Mostafa Kamel, Managing Director, LinkOnLine

Moderator: Alexander McNabb, Director; SpotOn PR

Are we facing a content crisis?, Hall A (Presentation)

5:00PM to 5.15PM, Wednesday 26 June 2013

Spot On’s Alexander McNabb will be talking about the growing content challenges facing today’s brands.

Companies are walking into a content crunch – the challenge of finding, creating, curating and sharing content that makes them relevant to their audience and that encourages discovery, engagement and buying behaviour. How can brands use content to compete effectively in a world of information overload? What are the strategies that work? And what if you’ve got nothing much to say?

More about ArabNet

The ArabNet Digital Summit takes place 24-26 June 2013 at Atlantis The Palm in Dubai.

Find out more about ArabNet Digital Summit

Read the full agenda for the Summit here

Listen to the ArabNet podcasts!

Listen to ArabNet founder Omar Christidis on Dubai Eye radio (9/05/13)

Listen to Alexander McNabb talking about ArabNet on Dubai Eye Radio (20/06/13 A)

Listen to Alexander McNabb talking about ArabNet on Dubai Eye Radio (20/06/13 B)

Contact us

If you would like help with your content strategy or would like to meet up with us at ArabNet contact us now.

Read more about content

Are you being genuine? (May 2013)

Flipboard and the future of content (April 2013)

Posted in Content, E-commerce, General, Internet, Middle east, Middle East marketing, Mobile, Online marketing, social media |
Alexander McNabb

Counting clicks

Pic via Twitter thanks to @DigitalMktgME

There was a good vibe at the Click 7.0 Digital Marketing Event today. Chairing the event, I did expect to see a slightly larger crowd, which was a huge shame as the day turned out to be one of the most varied, diverse and insightful I remember from a Dubai event in a long time.

The first panel saw three ‘c level’ speakers sharing their insights into the move to digital and what it means to their organisations – how they harness that energy and life, capture that data and build on those relationships. It was also a strange mix – two broadcasters and a pizza guy, but the combination gelled well and it was a chance to pull a ‘Bono stunt’ and get on the mobile to order 16 pizzas from uber-social UAE-based pizza joint, NKD Pizza. Sure enough, a bemused audience soon found itself tucking into the pizzas that came bursting through the door in the hands of black-clad pizza guys!

Hill and Knowlton Strategies’ Andrew Bone shared the agency’s view on content marketing – insights into finding ways to tell a brand story backed up by seven case studies that looked at communicating across digital media. That triggered some interesting discussion around companies finding ways to communicate that are consistent with their values and public perception of them. Perhaps, the consensus seemed to be, stories could be told that lead the consumer towards a brand’s viewpoint and changing perceptions rather than shout out aspirations for the brand that jar with consumers.

A panel on social media marketing followed – a spirited affair to say the least. A rather bemused audience was assured that ad agency Leo Burnett was booking 70% of its revenue through digital – and Aramex’ Hassan Mikail and SocialEyes’ Akanksha Goel discussed approaches to outsourcing and insourcing content creation and social media curation. A wide range of viewpoints compellingly communicated by strong panellists, IMHO!!!

The race for digital domination

The following panel, ‘The race for digital domination’ saw Xische’s Danish Farhan on fine form, flinging down gauntlets like a glove flinging machine. His strong, assertive style combined with Saletab’s Mustafa Ahmed’s quieter but measured assertions – again, a good combination that delivered a number of insights, including the inadvisability of ‘cookie cutting’ international campaigns and delivering them to the Middle East – and Danish’ ”halalisation’ of content!

After lunch saw two presentations – Sitecore laid out its multichannel online marketing goods and an impressive set of tools and resources they were too. Usually a sales pitch presentation after lunch is the kiss of death, but Sitecore does some very cool stuff indeed and the audience was treated to some strong case studies of how you can slice and dice customer data to present the very best web experience when they land on your page – wherever they’ve come from. And then we had Ibrahim Badawi talking m-commerce – combining experience at the coal face with Dubai e-government with a refreshing candour and a down to earth and witty viewpoint on how Dubai and the UAE in general, is headed for a mobile revolution.

The last panel of the day was a fitting conclusion to a strong start – the ecommerce panel combined MarkaVIP, Cleartrip, Saletab and Aramex. The audience got what they paid for, insights cascaded as the four panellists opened up on the lack of trust in local ecommerce sites, the issues of cross-border transactions, Arabic content vs English content (and how Arabic content leads to English transactions!) as well as some clear guidance on marketing, operating and succeeding in a nascent market. Watch out for the Turks, Mikail told the region’s budding e-commerce entrepreneurs.

It went by in a flash – not a single duff voice, not a droning ‘take me now’ presentation and a lot of memorable lines and thoughts to take away. If you missed it, Flip Media’s Yousuf Toukan is chairing day two tomorrow and you can register on the spot. It’s a shame there are seats to spare – if you missed today, you missed a ‘big one’. In my humble…

Follow the conversation on Twitter via the #Click7 hashtag.

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Alexander McNabb on the Spot On blog

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Posted in brand marketing, Content, CRM, Customers, E-commerce, Facebook, Internet, Measurement, Middle east, Middle East marketing, Mobile, Online marketing, Online Shopping, social media | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Alexander McNabb

Intelligent use of social media

The chaps at Studio One wanted to explore how best to use social media, especially if you were starting out with a small business. What top five tips could we give an SME

Naturally, as so often happens with these things, we didn’t really stick to the top five tips and then ran out of time, so here are those tips to go alongside the conversation we did have, which ranged from time management to brands who keep asking the same questions because they think that’s ‘engagement’, the elusive grail we are all told by ‘experts’ is the very essence of social media and which so few of those experts appear to understand. You can watch the interview to find out more, but here are five tips for small businesses looking at setting up social media accounts.

Listen - Don’t just go in there all guns blazing. Find out what people are saying first. It’s like being in the kitchen at a party. Do you really want to bluster in talking about the biggest T-bone steak you’ve ever had if the room’s full of vegetarians?

Have an objective - Know why you’re doing this. It’s going to cost you time and money, so have an objective to measure success against! Link objectives to outcomes wherever possible – do you expect sales or mainly awareness? Is a Facebook ‘Like’ really a good objective? Your objective is your goal, something solid to achieve. A good objective, for instance, would be ‘create a community of a thousand interested potential customers who interact with us regularly in conversations around beauty tips, wellbeing and a healthy lifestyle.’

Plan your story - You’re going to have to have something to say. Content planning is critical. Which platforms do you want to use and what will be each platform’s purpose? Being personable online only goes so far. If you’d like social media users to advocate choosing your brand, then you need to give them something they can believe in. And that’s typically fostered by sharing great content.

Resource - This is not a junior/intern role. It’s resource intensive and requires smarts. It’s not slapping an F logo on your advertising, either! There are many ways to structure social media management, delegating the definition of your positioning and online persona to an intern isn’t a good structure!  Use automation tools such as scheduled posts but above all be ready to invest your time.

EngageYou need to be actually talking to people, not broadcasting at them. Social media brings huge opportunities for one:one marketing, don’t blow them by alienating your whole audience with daily press release-talk, but use the opportunity to share your story, talk to your customers, take their input to hone your business and be open and receptive to their feedback.

Watch the interview

Dubai One TV Studio One- 9 June 2013 (6.51 mins)

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Alexander McNabb

Counting the days to the ArabNet Digital Summit

The ArabNet Digital Summit will take place in Dubai from the 24th-26th June 2013. It’s the first time ArabNet has been held in Dubai – the event launched in Beirut back in 2010 and instantly established itself as the Middle East’s premier regional digital event. We knew a winner when we saw one and we’ve been ArabNet supporters ever since!

Why is ArabNet so successful? You would be forgiven for wondering how a Beirut based event could lay claim to being truly regional, for instance.  But its location was key to the event – developers, young entrepeneurs and others involved in the creation of intellectual property flocked from nearby Egypt and Jordan. Although there were a number of older heads travelling from the Gulf, it was ArabNet’s accessibility to the engine room of regional digital growth that really built that early. Young people who’d have to think long and hard about the cost of travelling to the Gulf could literally hop in a car or a bus.

The other key element driving ArabNet’s rise and rise has been, simply, timing. As someone pointed out at ArabNet 2011, “This year is the year of ecommerce in the Middle East. Like last year and the year before that.” It was a fair point – the region is an ecommerce laggard. But technologies like cloud and the impetus of the global financial crisis have fuelled a new entreneurialism in the region, fostered by the likes of Oasis, Wamda and Seeqnce.  According to Sindibad Business, investment in MENA startups has jumped tenfold over the past three years. ArabNet, positioned squarely as the startup communities premier meeting place, has gone from strength to strength as a consequence of the increased recognition of the pivotal role of online platforms and technologies in the Middle East.

It’s one of the reasons Spot On has been such a keen supporter of ArabNet – the event has done a great deal towards building not only awareness of the potential for online , but in fostering opportunity and growth for companies embracing the ‘new media’.

The move to take the ‘Digital Summit’ – the conference element of ArabNet and move it to Dubai is a timely one. As an established brand and respected event, ArabNet brings considerable strength and experience to building a Dubai event. It also recognises Dubai’s pivotal role as a shop front for the region’s digital and technology industries. You might develop software in Jordan and you might put your call centre in Cairo – but you’re absolutely going to put your regional sales and marketing operation in Dubai.

Which is just what ArabNet’s doing  – opening up the event to regional media, regional decision makers and regional marketers in a way never before possible.

Facing the content crunch

Spot On will be there, of course – I’ll be talking about how companies are facing a ‘content crunch’ and having to find, create and share content that makes them relevant to their customers.  It’s a huge challenge for marketers moving forwards – just what have we got to say about our company or its products and services that would make people want to talk to us? And if the answer doesn’t seem clear, you’re by no means alone.  We’ll be looking at how brands can use content to compete for eyeballs, clicks and customers – and at ways of cutting through the increasing amount of clutter out there, too!

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The ArabNet Digital Summit takes place 24-26 June 2013 at Atlantis The Palm in Dubai.

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Contact us

If you would like help with your content strategy or would like to meet up with us at ArabNet contact us now.

Read more about content

Are you being genuine? (May 2013)

Flipboard and the future of content (April 2013)

Posted in Content, E-commerce, Internet, Middle east, Middle East marketing, Mobile, Online marketing, social media |