Tag Archives: web

Lebanon: one of the five leading countries on social media in the ME

The number of Facebook users in the Arab world reached 27.7 million by the end of Q1 2011, an increase of 30 per cent since the beginning of the year, according to the second Arab Social Media Report (ASMR).

This edition monitored the growth of Facebook and Twitter in the region, propelled by the uprisings sweeping the Arab world. It revealed a substantial shift in the use of social media from social purposes towards civic and political action.

The number of active Twitter users in the Arab world during the same period, according to the report, was over 1.1 million users who tweeted at least once every two weeks. These ‘active users’ generated over 22.7 million tweets during Q1 2011. Regional Twitter trends during this period focused primarily on events unfolding during the Arab uprisings. The words ‘Egypt’, ‘Jan25’, ‘Libya’, ‘Bahrain’ and ‘protest’ were the top ‘hashtags’ used by Twitter users in the Arab region.

The report noted that though the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Lebanon are the leading five countries in the region according to the percentage of Facebook and Twitter users, social media growth was the fastest in those countries experiencing social unrest. While Turkey continues to lead the region in terms of number of users, Egypt saw the highest increase in the number of users during the first quarter of 2011 among the Arab countries, adding close to two million Facebook users.

A major impact on brands and advertising
Not so long ago, the relationship that brands had with their clients was the equivalent of one-way street. Clients were told what they should love and how to love it. The only thing the customer could control was their own decision to purchase. But this is no longer the case today with the emerging power of social networks and the impact they have on our daily lives. Consumers now have the ability to speak publicly thanks to the features of the Web 2.0 tools which makes marketing teams extremely nervous.
With Internet users increasingly influential and platforms that are multiplying, social networks have become essential for brands. These spaces can now allow them to reinvent the relationship with the consumer.

In search for a real added-value
Brands should provide real value in order to foster affinity with Internet users and get them eventually to become the brand ambassadors. Social networks are primarily focused on the individual, so brands must place this individual at the heart of their strategy even if sometimes they can be considerd as intrusive.
Between Facebook and Twitter, user profiles and expectations are very different. The first is rather considered as a medium of belonging. Its members display their affinity with certain groups and certain interests.
On Twitter, however, the content is designed to power a community of opinion leaders, prescribers, etc.. So many brands have chosen to use it as a platform for customer relations.

Companies are increasingly likely to launch “Like pages” on Facebook. But what is the real benefit of these pages for the company, particularly in terms of customer loyalty vis-à-vis the brand?
Brands are seeking to promote themselves on social networks, but are still struggling to get results. Some brands do not know how to approach this young medium.

What is the real problem? Interaction.
A simple photo or video are not enough to interact with users of social networks and other social websites. To ensure the success of a campaign (to get a good return on investment, to start a positive buzz around a product, service, initiative), it is necessary to involve the user, to capture his attention, arouse their curiosity. So what should brands actually do? They should create specific web pages and original multimedia content, including videos and contests – even if the theme is not directly related to the core business of brand. The main objective is to create co;;unities around the brand or product. When people find it of value, if the brand pages are relevant to their interests and if they can act on such content (comments, play, create …), they can be ready to accept the fact that they are liking a page that is promoting a brand. In this case, users of social networks do not consider the branded pages as advertisements meaning that they do not want to switch to another page as the case may be faced with banners and pop-ups.

In order to reach their target and drive traffic through social networks, advertisers must encourage interaction with users and rely on advertising. It would be a mistake to limit to the word of mouth or viral marketing. All of us, Internet users, websites, brands, agencies and advertisers must learn to move forward and live together worthy experiences, let them be digitally or in real life. What are your thoughts on the subject? Any Lebanese brand you feel is doing the work properly? 🙂

Advertisements

Social Media Week comes to Beirut!

Following on the great success of Social Media Week February 2011, the next iteration of Social Media Week will again span the globe this September 19-23, 2011, with simultaneous events in cities from all over the world. Confirmed locations include returning cities like Milan, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Bogota, and São Paulo, plus new entrants from Rio de Janeiro, Moscow and now happy to announce BEIRUT and I am thrilled to be part of the organizers.

With each successive iteration, Social Media Week has grown exponentially, leading up to the February 2011 edition, which hosted simultaneous events in nine cities with over 600 events, 30,000 attendees worldwide, and generating more than 300M impressions online, made it the largest distributed conference in the world.

Far more than just a conference, Social Media Week is one of the world’s most unique organized events, providing through a series of interconnected activities across the world a global and local perspective on emerging trends in social & mobile media across all major industries.

Social Media Week Beirut (SMW Beirut) will be organized for the first time in Beirut, brought to you and produced by 90:10 Group Middle East. SMW Beirut is aimed to be a unique and innovative social media week, happening over 5 days, with more than 30 events in different venues in the city, giving access to as large audience as possible, connecting people & content around diverse and rich themes, with speakers and participants from different horizons, bringing to all the learning experiences for a better understanding of social media in each of industry sectors.

SMW Beirut will be as well fun 🙂

Your thoughts, advices, tips and all are more than welcome.
You can follow Social Media Week Beirut on Twitter or on Facebook

Go Beirut!

Advertising in Lebanon: TV remains n.1 and internet is inexistant!

I just came through this article on the Commerce du Levant website about the advertising spending in September 2010 in Lebanon. These expenses are down 8% from August and 4% compared to September 2009. Despite this slight decline, the third quarter was relatively good with an increase of 8%.

OK advertising is still growing, even if it is growing slowly. But the thing that hit me the most is the fact that there is absolutely no spending for advertising on the web or that it is really really insignificant. Check out this repartition:

As I was wondering about the average time that lebanese people spent watching TV, I guess I have the answer to my deep concern. Television takes it all and it is still the number 1 mass media. Will the web ever kill the TV stars?

Throughout the world, the strong growth of the Internet, and the development of its uses, confirms the mass media crisis (for the press and TV in the first place).
More profoundly, the belief in the mainstream media is dramatically affected by a movement that sees the legitimacy of traditional media organizations disintegrated by a permanent suspicion particularly related to a certain political affiliation.

Considering that a mass media (according to Marshall MacLuhan) is characterized by a communication of one-to many and by a one-side message (the public does not interfere with the message vehicle) we can of course question the belonging of the web to the “mass media” category. The web in its core, and thanks to the massive user generated contents created by the audience via blogs, wikis, social networks etc… creates a new situation: the communication pattern which used to be from one to many (vertical) has completely evolved to many-to-many (horizontal).

My main point here is that these new models of direct production of information are drawing an innovative media landscape, and advertising investments should definitely be following this trend.

The “new” communication strategies of Lebanese banks…

In retail banking, the communication strategy of credit institutions is facing new challenges. Beyond the cyclical impact of the crisis, new ways to “consume” banking seem to emerge. Lebanese banks should definitely start thinking how to redirect their traditional communication campaigns and tools.

Communication strategies are usually required to follow the development of new technologies that impact the consumers’ behavior. All around the world, it has even become common to use the Internet or mobile phone for banking transactions.

However, in Lebanon, we are still at, lets say, stage 1 (or you can call it web 1), where banks’ certainly do have websites (at least…) but where these websites are definitely in need of some renewal or should I say revitalization. Let’s take a quick look on what is out there:

Remarquable Design on « Microsoft Paint » for SGBL

 

Moderate-purple static inkblot for Byblos Bank

 

Rather kitsch animation and pixelized logo for Crédit Libanais

Strictness and severity for Bank Audi

Kind of appealing and dynamic home-page for FNB

(but don’t bother clicking to see what’s behind the images)

A bit of interactivity but lots of ambition for BLF

(these guys are great: they have even created a Facebook Page, a channel on Youtube and a group on Linkedin and everything is actually linked to their website!! :p )

So even if all the major Lebanese banks have created web portals, they are far (faaaaaaaar) from being present in all territories that new technologies have created. These territories include new audiences generated by social networks that are growing surprisingly.

The challenge for the banking sector lies in the conquest of these new spaces and the seduction of their audiences.

In this context, banks should be wondering about new ways to attract and develop customer’s loyalty. Communication campaigns based on a general message and distributed exclusively through television and advertising are no longer covering the entire customer base and have stopped responding to the changing selection criteria. The « revival », (which is starting to emerge with BLF’s campaign around « Ambitions »), should be structured around 2 main axes:

First, banks should start positioning themselves on the new audiences crossroads that are distinct and separate from traditional media’s audience. Social networks are new contact points banks need to exploit. These channels should be progressively integrated to communication strategies because they allow banks to be visible among a population of Young adults, which is a particularly attractive target for banks. But beyond visibility, these new means of communication offer the opportunity to interact directly with customers.

Secondly, banks should really be thinking about developing real branding strategies, stop acting like companies only and start acting like real « brands ». While they have almost all a very strong reputation, only a few banks have managed to build a strong identity around specific and distinctive attributes easily identifiable by the client. The promotion of a brand is only possible if it is linked with a promise and values that are in line with customer expectations. In this framework, communication actions taken by banks should above all, relay and make the brand promise more credible.

In this era, consumer’s behavior and clients fields of expression have radically changed. So why not use the web to set the tone for a new more collaborative customer relationship?