How Eastline Marketing Accelerated the Largest Startup Conference in the Region

Last year, Banque Du Liban unveiled Circular 331, a new initiative that allows banks to use a $400,000,000 fund to act as investors for startups in Lebanon. In order to educate these young companies on how to make it big and learn more about the circular, Banque du Liban (BDL) organized the largest startup conference in the region: BDL Accelerate. But how to raise awareness, attract 2,000 quality attendees (entrepreneurs, investors, and more) and over 80 partners on such short notice?

This was our cue. We came up with a simple but extremely efficient strategy that involved four platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and a blog. We were able to generate interest and excitement by providing high-value content across the board. We posted daily on all platforms and built up to the event by using in-depth profiles of our speakers, Q&As, and informative pots about the partners. We promoted Tweets and launched 5 Google and Facebook advertising campaigns, spanning 32 countries, generating 14 Million impressions and 144,000 clicks. We were using #Accelerate2014 as the dedicated hashtag for the campaign on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Facebook:

During the campaign, we posted on a daily basis. We talked about software and social media, showcased our blog posts, advertised the event… But we didn’t stop there! During the two days of the event, we posted 622 pictures, gathering over 9,320 likes and reaching 1,002,255 users. In the end, the page exceeded 21,000 likes from over 30 countries, had close to 400 shares, and 342 comments.

Twitter:

Twitter was a challenge because creating a community takes quite some time. However, by tweeting 6-10 times a day until the event and then providing an extensive live coverage of the event, we gathered over 9,300 followers. We tweeted 656 times and gathered a total of 1.7 Million impressions, 835 favorites, and 905 retweets. With 1215 mentions, #Accelerate2014, our dedicated hashtag, was at the top of the “Trending” list for Lebanon during the two days of the event.

Instagram:

Without any kind of media and very little time, Instagram was a real challenge for us. We warmed up before the event by posting about our speakers, redirecting users to the blog for more info. When came live coverage time, the engagement went through the roof. We ended up posting 33 videos and 143 images in total, gathering 166 followers.

Website/Blog:

With over 70,000 visits, the average time on site reached an impressive 2.52 seconds and the registration count exceeded 1,800. The blog itself accounted for 1,000 visits on 48 posts and tackled topics such as the speakers, Q&As, the partners, live coverage, and more. It helped us bring value and insight to our audience before the event, which generated a lot of interest.

It was a pleasure and a great opportunity for Eastline Marketing to work on this project. We are proud to participate in the development of the regional startup ecosystem. The results have exceeded the client’s wildest expectations and we are looking forward to next year’s edition!

BCL Accelerate Infographic

BDL Accelerate Infographic

Revolutionising the Digital Ad Space

communicate_nov_2014_coverOver the last decade, we’ve seen advertising agencies rapidly shift towards digital communication, yet they haven’t fully embraced the power of interactivity. This is why Eastline Marketing, a leading digital agency, has come up with a truly innovative solution: Social Ads.

Caught in a Crossfire

communicate_oct_2014_coverMarc Dfouni, CEO and managing partner at digital agency Eastline Marketing, gives a very concrete example of that sad, albeit usual, state of play: his company has lost four employees to Dubai in the past year. Dfouni anticipates a couple of more losses from now until the end of the year. “This problem is getting worse every year. The retention of these people is not an internal or a motivational problem, but mainly a political one,” he says….

Are tech CEOs the new rock stars?

Are tech CEOs the new rock stars?During the past decade, CEOs of tech companies have become just as popular as music and movie stars. How come? How does it show? What are the consequences?

1- The Steve Jobs way

In 1983, Steve Jobs held his first keynote presentation, unveiling the commercial for the Apple II. Fast forward to 2001, the man introduces his fellow music lovers to a device that will forever change the face of this industry: the iPod. It wasn’t enough for the product to be outstanding; it also had to be presented in a way that would resonate in the minds of every person on the face of the Earth. It was such a hit that from that point on, every product announcement became an event. People came by the hundreds (and later on, thousands) to watch Steve Jobs himself talk about what new groundbreaking technology Apple was going to release. In the span of ten years, from the iPod launching event in 2001 to his death in 2011, Jobs became a legend, a public figure and the most beloved CEO in history. Today, his legacy extends far beyond Apple as CEOs from around the world have started walking the same path.

2- The trend

After Steve Jobs had passed away, CEOs from all corners of Silicon Valley started imitating him: every time they wanted to launch a new product, they organized a presentation, made an event out of it and showed up personally to talk about their innovations. Steve Ballmer, ex-CEO of Microsoft and Bill Gates’ successor, is well known for his more-than-enthusiastic arrivals on stage, which reduced his credibility and earned him the nickname “Microsoft’s Mr Monkey Boy.” Other than his public antics, not much is remembered of his 14-year-long reign over Gates’ company. When Ballmer stepped down in February 2014, Satya Nadella took his place. This unknown man suddenly became the talk of the town, every magazine, website and news outlet was talking about him, and the tech community spent weeks analyzing his background and the impact it will have on the company. Since then, every new Microsoft product report features a paragraph or two about Nadella’s past and how it influenced the creation of said product.

It is no news that CEOs, their behavior and their background often affect their company’s value on the stock market, but their recent rise to stardom has greatly magnified their impact. To sum this up, just picture this: every time Tim Cook, Jobs’ successor, goes on stage, Apple’s stock drops. This phenomenon is directly linked to the attention that people now give to the personality of the speaker, not just the quality of the product announced. Buying or investing in technology has never been more emotional since consumers and investors now have personal biases towards brands because of their CEOs

3- Newcomers

One of the early adopters of this trend was Mark Zuckerberg. After founding Facebook in 2004 (initially called TheFacebook), the young man made the headlines across the world, and for many reasons. He was 19 when TheFacebook.com went online, making him the youngest pioneer of social media. When the company went international, the flagrant success of his platform and the change it was creating generated a lot of curiosity and envy. Closing his first billion at age 23, he became the world’s youngest self-made billionaire which boosted the hype he was already getting. Today, Mark is the face of his network, all the strategic decisions and new technologies are credited to him, and whenever Facebook announces changes his name comes first on the bill. He is a public figure, idol and model. His rise to fame inspired millions of software and applications developers to try to become the next big CEO in tech.

4- The consequences

Since then, every new successful application or software has seen its creator take the spotlight. This fame is a double-edged sword though; as creators get younger by the year, their experience in management and publicity is usually close to zero. A good example would be Evan Spiegel, CEO and creator of Snapchat. When he launched his application in July 2011, it skyrocketed. Today, the 24-year-old is worth 1 Billion dollars. However, you will hear more about his offensive college emails and spoiled childhood than his accomplishments as CEO.

Other older Silicon Valley tycoons are following Jobs’ footsteps, like Jeff Bezos, who saw fit to announce new products and features of Amazon himself after years behind the scenes. The problem here is that most of these novelties are not well received by the public. Result: every time he takes the stage, the internet spends a great amount of time criticizing his decisions and blaming him, focusing on the negative aspect of his product.

One of the rare exceptions today is Google, which took the good side of the trend – the events, the conferences and the hype- only leaving out the problematic part, CEOs going public too often.

Tech CEOs are the new rock stars indeed, bathing in fame and money, their presentations are like concerts, their decisions are received like new albums and their personal life is on display. They are public figures, an inspiration for many and a target of criticism for others. People stopped wanting to be entertainers, they want to be tech CEOs now.

Content Marketing

Content MarketingAs online marketing grows, new ways of advertising emerge. Lately, this “content marketing” has been the talk of the town. But what is it exactly? Why is it making so much noise? How can you leverage it for your business?

1- What is content marketing?

If you want a clear definition, the content marketing institute defines it as a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action. In laymen’s terms, content marketing means generating interest in your brand or product by developing content related to it in order to create a relation, build trust, awareness, and positive sentiment. Of course the desired result is customer action but by avoiding classic marketing approaches, you circumvent your audience’s efforts to ignore advertising. You’re not promoting yourself anymore, you’re bringing useful and meaningful content with real added value to those willing to listen.

2- History of content marketing

If you think content marketing is a new notion, think again. The first documented instance of this technique dates back to 1895, when August Oetker started printing recipes on the back of his baking powder packs. Today, his recipe books are among the most successful worldwide, having sold over 19 million printed copies. His brand, Dr.Oetker, is among the largest food processor in the world.

Another example, maybe the most eloquent of all, is Michelin. The tire manufacturer started its publication in 1900, releasing 35,000 copies full of advice to change or maintain tires, maps, travel tipsas well as hotels and restaurants reviews. It enticed people to go around the country and discover new places, thus using their Michelin tires to their full potential. Today, the guide has 14 editions covering 23 countries and is sold in nearly 90 countries. It is a global reference and a business on its own.

Those were the pioneers of content marketing and they used it to give their brand an edge. Over the years, an increasing number of companies took that path, often successfully, and the trend grew along with the new technologies. Today, the most common channels include blog posts, e-books, emails newsletters, PowerPoint presentations, Podcasts, videos, social media posts, live presentations, webinars, and a lot more. This practice is not really optional anymore, and for a good reason.

3- Why do businesses need it

As we previously mentioned, content marketing has grown constantly from its beginning up until now. However, the early 60s saw the rise of what we now call above the line advertising (TV, radio, print). In the past 50 years, developed countries have been exposed to so such a huge amount of publicity that the population became insensitive to it. Now there are ways to skip TV ads, radio is close to its demise, the number of printed material readers is dropping dramatically, even online banners and pop-ups are being ignored or blocked. This makes content marketing a real necessity for brands. On the eve of the age of information, people want to learn and discover. By helping them in this endeavor, companies get their audience’s trust and interest. But if everyone starts doing the same, how will content marketing stay efficient and attractive?

4- The future of content marketing

With the growing need for it, content marketing will become an industry on its own. Just like social media a few years ago, we are going to see the emergence of content marketing agencies, director of content will be the new job title of next year and bigger budgets will be allocated for this practice. A lot of brands will probably try to automate their content, but it will fail simply because it goes against the very concept of content marketing; however, the need to calculate return on investment will spawn new software-as-a-service companies and new strategies such as location-based content marketing. Finally, and most importantly, as consumers gradually shift from computers to smartphones for navigation, any brand without a strategy for fast-consumption content directed at mobile users will be left behind.

So go ahead, create content, make it interesting and mobile-friendly and don’t forget to follow a strategy!

Eastline and Endeavor, A Mentoring Success

Eastline - EndeavorThree years after being selected as high impact entrepreneurs by Endeavor, Eastline Marketing remains proud of the achievements it continues to reach with the NGO organization.

Celebrating the ongoing successes of Endeavor in Lebanon during a gala dinner on June 4th, Eastline Marketing was part of the selected 13 local business owners and senior management to address the realizations they fulfilled with the help of Endeavor.

Needless to say, the 460 attendees were impressed by the mentoring and impact Endeavor has made to help these companies reach their potential and grow the local economy through these chosen promising businesses.

As Eastline Marketing, we cannot summarize how Endeavor has helped us shape and outgrow our potential in the past 3 years. However our CEO & Eastline Marketing Co-founder Marc Dfouni says “We have built a trusted, long-term relationship with our Endeavor mentors who have greatly helped us to expand our network, solidify our business structure, build our vision, and evolve. They’ve been there and done that and now it’s our turn as young entrepreneurs to be guided by their constructive wisdom.”

Based in New York with offices in 20 countries all over the world, Endeavor is a global organization whose mission is to transform economies around the world by using entrepreneurship as a catalyst of that change, so they identify the best entrepreneurs in these companies and work with them to help them succeed.

Their core aim is to transform the economy by helping the most promising and ambitious high-impact entrepreneurs by giving them access to any managerial resource they need.

EyeEm vs Instagram

Instagram VS EyeEmAs Instagram introduces paid advertising and is way beyond the 130 million users mark, EyeEm take their 10 million users as well as photo-sharing to another direction.

1 – The common points

Both Instagram and EyeEm are photo-sharing apps. The principle is the same: snap or upload a picture, choose a filter and a frame, post with hashtags. Beyond that, the two platforms don’t have much in common, starting with the format…

2- Picture format

Instagram is well-known for the Instamatic-like square format. It is a trademark and doesn’t change. However, EyeEm gives more freedom to the user by letting him/ her upload pictures in any format they want. Instagram’s restriction forces creativity while EyeEm’s freedom lets the artist in you let loose.

3- Filters and frames

While Instagram lets you choose between 19 different filters, each of which has a dedicated (or no) frame, EyeEm separated the two. You can choose between 17 different filters and match them with any of the 12 proposed frames. This gives you more freedom to bring out the desired effect out of your pictures and make them your own.

4- Search, albums and categories

Instagram’s search is simple: you can look for hashtags and users. The news feed only shows pictures from users you follow, and the “most popular” page shows you what pictures are getting the most likes in the shortest amount of time. It doesn’t go beyond that, which is perfect for a simple experience. EyeEm on the other hand features automatic tagging (including geotagging) and places your pictures in albums depending on the subject and the tags on your picture (maximum 4). When you sign up on EyeEm, you are asked to choose your topics of interest. Whenever you’ll open the app, you will greeted by a selection of albums relevant to these topics. This allows a more explorative approach with a real purpose of discovery, guided by themes and interests.

5- Contests

While both apps run contests, EyeEm has a clear edge here. Instagram has communities running contests and they appeal only to those who are part of said communities. EyeEm on the other hand sends private message to all users informing them of global challenges and competitions. They sometimes partner up with other companies (last one was with Blablacar, a carpooling platform) and use this to create the theme of the contest.

6- The future for Instagram

Belonging to Facebook and having a gargantuan user database, Instagram is ripe for advertising and in fact has already started monetizing services. Some brand are using it to advertise in the form of accounts, others (the select few) have the chance to sponsor posts. As brands get used to the Instagram way of advertising, the feature will become available to a greater number of applicants.

7- The future for EyeEm

Created by a photographer, for photographers, EyeEm has a different vision for its users. Here is the scoop: If a designer/ brand/ ad agency/ other likes a picture of yours, they can send a request to buy it. EyeEm gets 50% and you make money off your photography without having to be a pro or own professional gear. This service is the first of its kind and will revolutionize the world of stock photography by providing a mobile, in-app stock of user-generated photos.

If you look at the bigger picture, you will find Instagram to be a great tool for marketing and simple, social user experience whereas EyeEm appeals more to the aspiring photographer and photography lovers. Both are great for sharing pictures and getting in touch with others who share the same interest, but where Instagram encourages simplicity, EyeEm pushes creativity and discovery.

Social Media Strategies

cover_leb_opp_june_2014Social media is becoming integral to marketing plans. New strategies are being adopted to optimize its impact for companies or brands. According to Marc Dfouni, CEO of Eastline Marketing, an online marketing agency, social media is no longer the question.