Pinterest: An Advertiser’s Dream

PinterestWith Pinterest picking up, Facebook setting the timeline feature permanent for the business pages and buying Instagram for a billion dollars, you can’t help wondering if social media is heading toward a visual experience where Pinterest is clearly ahead of the game at the moment.

Addictive and eye-candy boards take up most of the space allowing users to re-pin or pin images and videos they like while sharing them with their followers who can also comment, like or re-pin the content if they decide to. It’s a hub for fashion inspirations, interior design aspirations, a digital dream collage, a recipe box and more. In short, Pinterest is becoming the new face of social media marketing.

Now if looking into Pinterest from an advertising eye, it is every advertiser’s dream to find a space toshare visuals that can appeal to the followers emotions and increase brand recognition. How so? Well unlike Facebook, content is shared across the platform where anyone can see, re-pin or like the content, thus reaching outside of a given users network.

Moreover, the newly blasted network also gives brands the chance to pin their products under the “gifts” tab in the navigation bar where they can add a price tag and a link to the website where the item is being sold.

Although the majority of the Pinterests users are mainly focused on sharing photos, however the network can also be a great tool of generating traffic to the brand’s YouTube channel or simply promote videos.

Though Pinterest has been around since 2010, its explosive growth in the past few months has drawn attention to the rise of social media platforms where users can create content with the push of a button.

Check this blog post pinned!

World Apocalypse without Facebook

Rumor has it hacker-activist group Anonymous will attempt to shut down Facebook on November 5, 2011, accusing the social network of invading users’ privacy – frightening!

For couple of years now Facebook has raided our lives, altered our social communication manners and revolutionized our marketing strategies.

But what happens if the Anonymous group succeeds in shutting down Facebook? My-Oh-My! It’s indeed the end of the world.

Imagine socially you will no longer be able to spy on your ex-boyfriend/girlfriend–Indeed catastrophic. Imagine parents will no longer know where their teenage children have checked-in — Tragic. Most importantly you will no longer know who’s dating who and who broke up with whom! SHOCKER!

Clearly we underestimated the power of this spying network…

Unfortunately the world of online marketing will get shut in the face. Brands will no longer be competing socially for the best viral effect and televisions advertisement will reign again.

No more pages to like, brands will no longer be able to communicate with their fans and groups will no longer spam their members! (Wait that’s not bad now is it?)

Oh my god. Have you also forgotten about the events and the invites! How will you be updated on the latest event and its whereabouts?! Does this also mean you will no longer be able to embarrass your friends and tag them with annoying pictures of them acting stupidly? Sad, so sad.

It’s indeed the end of the world.

Blocking Social Media at Work

A common practice among many employers/organizations in the MENA region (as well as all over the world) is to block access to social media networking sites. Even with the emergence of the importance of having access to Social Media networks (SMN) in the workplace, for various reasons, some employers don’t seem to be quite convinced yet of the benefits. Yes, there are quite a few.

The major thing it says to an employee when a company bans the use of SMN and free Internet surfing is that they, in fact, think of you as a child, or an idiot, or both perhaps. Not an adult that is there to perform his or her job because you are fully capable of doing so, without having a chaperone holding your hand. With the rampant use of all sorts of smart phones nowadays, anyone can check their Facebook and other Social Networks on their BB’s, IPhones and other devices. It must be said though that in some cases, some employees do ‘use and abuse’ said privilege. However, in most cases the pros outweigh the cons.

Studies have been done showing that when employees take a break from work, surf the net, and spend a few minutes on FB or twitter, their morale and self esteem actually increases. Also, as far as marketing for your company goes, Social Media is proven to be one of the most effective means of doing just that, for a much cheaper rate than other marketing means. There is no better way to learn the ins and outs of Social Media Marketing than to actually use it on a daily basis, whether on a personal or professional basis.

Blocking these Social Networks may mean missing many opportunities for lots of productive and collaborative work in these organizations. There is always a small percentage of people that will waste way too much time on these platforms doing nothing productive, but there are way more people that can actually benefit from having free access to them. Don’t you think?

Buying Facebook Likes is Smart – NOT!

Online marketing has fulfilled its purpose for quite some time now, and in Lebanon it’s gradually starting to grow with communities engaging online and making some campaigns go viral with innovative marketing ideas.

However and unfortunately some newly established Lebanese online marketing companies have failed to understand the concept and the purpose of the campaigns and how to attract the targeted engaged consumers.

Companies are buying Facebook likes, Twitter followers and so on thinking that the more fans they have the more successful the campaign is, and that is a fail of marketing and ethics. Nonetheless, let us see this through; we went through some local brands’ Facebook pages and checking their likers we noticed how many fake profiles were out there while the majority weren’t even Lebanese. So how is this helpful for the brands to expand and get their message across?

It is crucial with online marketing to set a specific demographic target because you will be more focused on what type of customers you want and means to attract them. Failure to settle your target will increase risks of failure when promoting your products, services or business in order to engage your fan base. Moreover there is no benefit from online marketing when it comes to increasing your fans and followers when they do not match your targeted consumers.

Journalists on Social Media Networks

Have you ever sat down and wondered who in the world makes the most use of Social Media in current times? Maybe it has always been so and it’s just become really noticeable now, but due to tumultuous events in the world, namely the revolutions in the MENA region, Journalists seem to be all over Facebook and Twitter. Not only that, they also take the most advantage of what is said and posted on social networks the most in their work.

Even though the recent events have succeeded in making anyone on Twitter a ‘Citizen Journalist’, hundreds of professional Journalists are turning to tweeting and blogging, sharing their views and opinions online, and using these means to verify information they receive as well as sourcing stories.

According to a survey done about this, it seems almost half of those Journalists (47% to be exact), use Twitter to source their stories. A third of them (35%) turn to Facebook, and the rest (30%) use blogs they are already familiar with. Surprisingly, research also found that about 47% find leads to stories through blogs they have never visited before… Thank you Twitter.

In past years, PR agencies played a big part in supplying news to Journalists and news channels. They still play quite a big part and are just as important as online sources. However, having a solid (social) network, good blogger relations and a strong content strategy will definitely get a Journalist far.

Do you think Journalists have it easier these days than they did say, 10 years ago?

How do you think the news world has changed because of Social Media Networks like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube?

Blogs and Advertising

For many of us, the idea of just sitting back, writing down your thoughts and ideas, and making enough money to sustain yourself doing that is the ultimate dream. This is what many bloggers out there are doing, and quite successfully.

Some of you will simply be looking for a couple of hundred extra dollars a month to pay internet bills or otherwise, while others will be looking to make thousands of dollars a month doing something that they love and are passionate about.

Blogs like Lifehacker and Mashable have succeeded in profiting from having advertisers use their platform. They make millions of dollars per year through banner advertising. Certainly, that means they must be doing something right.

Potential advertisers can easily access an advertising page on these sites, giving them traffic information, statistics, as well as their media kits and rate cards. There is a lot to learn from big sites like those, using what we learn to our advantage in our own ‘little’ blogs.

In addition, it is particularly clever that they both use Social Media to promote their posts and articles, through their Facebook pages, and Twitter accounts. The more people that read their posts, and share them through Social Media networks, the more traffic they get, and thus, the more appealing to potential advertisers. That is also a lesson to learn.

This all brings up a few curious questions though, such as:

  • What makes a blog successful in your opinion?
  • Is it writing about a topic that interests you, or a topic that interests the majority of the people online, and then ‘pretending’ it interests you to get more readers and followers?

Share your views!

The Travel Industry and Social Media

The time of year where one starts planning his or her respective vacations is upon us. Well, most of us. I am sure most of us, especially those of in the MENA region, find it especially challenging to find deals and flights, and ideas on where to go. Those in the travel industry seem to not have gotten the hang on Social Media, and just how useful and beneficial it could be for them.

Spending most of our lives on the internet, and most of that time on Social Media Networks, a few questions come to mind as of late when trying to find someplace to go on vacation, the major one being: Where on earth ARE the travel companies, airlines, and Ministries of Tourism?

Imagine just how many potential customers a travel agency, be it an online agency or not, could reach just by having an online presence; constantly tweeting with followers, and updating their Facebook pages with travel information, or having contest and competition applications as incentive!

The same can be said for major airlines and Ministries of Tourism. They definitely need to jump on the bandwagon. Offering packages or deals to those social media addicts, the travel industry can tap into those frequent flyers and those business travellers that spend most of their nights in hotels. Two Swedish companies are already reaping the benefits of Social Media by actively answering questions from customers on their Facebook pages as well as using Twitter to distribute promotions.

There are a few good cases from the travel industry in Europe, which seems to be one of the industries that are most actively embracing social media. However, the MENA region could easily take note and promote their services even better, and more effectively. Don’t you think?

Social Media: Both Sides of the Coin

There is a lot of talk and discussion on the net about the pros and cons of Social Media. Needless to say there are various good points on both sides of the coin, and since Social Media is definitely here to stay, let’s have a look at a few of those.

In terms of communication, it seems as if the world has literally shrunk in size. We now (and have been for quite some time) are able to connect much faster with people all over the world. The lightning-fast power of social media has been of unprecedented help in times of crisis such as during the MENA uprisings, and earthquakes.  In one incident in the US, a gunman went into a university, and students there were able to notify and warn each other via Facebook and Twitter before the University even knew. In that sense, Social Media has literally saved lives.

The other side of the coin is that in many cases, social media causes things to get lost in translation. False information can spread like the plague on Social Media networks. Anyone can post pretty much anything, from images, videos and all sorts of information. This results in major confusion, and in hurt reputations. (We don’t need to get into issues like leaked celebrity s– tapes and the sort to make this point now do we?) Moving on…

Regardless of the dangers, businesses and organizations are relying on Social Media now more than ever. In terms of advertising, I think we can all agree how lucrative it is, and how much more of a money saver it Is in terms of directly hitting the wanted demographic.  Goodbye to Radio, TV and Newspaper advertising!

Businesses and consumers both benefit from the speed of Social Media.  It allows both to get quick feedback on goods and services; another way of spreading that very important ‘word of mouth’ advertising.  People looking for work can also use SM to find out more about potential employers, the same way that employers keep a lookout for potential employees nowadays. Employers keep a watchful eye over profiles on social networks, looking through pictures and posts. Some things you post could actually get you fired, so people beware!

Also, the amount of self promoting narcissists out there on Facebook and other social networks seems to have quadrupled!

Do you think social networks are a cause of people becoming a little too self-obsessed, always posting way too many pictures and ‘TMI’ (Too Much Information)?

Making a YouTube Video go Viral

One question those of us in Social Media marketing agencies deal with on a constant basis the following: How do I make my YouTube video go viral?

A concept still new to many in the region, and largely misunderstood by those creating ads, posting them online, and then not knowing how to generate this ‘viral buzz’. Content obviously plays a part of whether the video is searched for based on said content. If you want a truly viral video that will get millions of people to watch and share it, then yes, content is key. However, it is not THE main deal breaker. Some videos are just not funny enough (when meant to be funny) or attention grabbing. Others are just badly made. No matter how much money one spends on advertising via social media or other means, the video might get thousands of viewers, but it most certainly won’t be shared and thus, won’t go viral.

So, some important tips to keep in mind when planning a viral video are the following:

  • Keep it short: 15-30 seconds is ideal. If the video is much longer, breaking it up into a few smaller clips is the way to go.
  • To get into the top most viewed videos page on YouTube (aka 50,000 views), harness the power of blogs, forums, Social Media Networks and Friends to spread, share and view the video. Taking it into the most viewed page, where thousands of people visit to find interesting videos, will turn it viral.
  • Once the video has 50,000 views or more, make sure the title and description are extremely catchy, because that is what will get people to click on the video. Both can be changed countless times.
  • A a compelling video thumbnail is the single best strategy to maximize the number of clicks the video gets once it is in the Most Viewed page on YouTube.
  • Get people to comment on your video. Create controversy if needed, even by creating fake accounts, and having a conversation with yourself.
  • Most importantly, if your video has any chance of going viral, it needs to hit the audience where it matters: It needs to achieve a physical response from there, be it a smile, a laugh, tears, goose bumps etc…
  • Make use of strategic tagging.
  • Keep tracking your video every week or couple of weeks, checking on increasing or decreasing views, and tweak it accordingly.

Social Media for Social Good

It’s a good day for us in social media when we see it being used for social good. It’s an even better day for us in the Arab world, when we see it being used to help each other out. Let’s face it, there is A LOT of negativity floating around the web, lots of competition between rival companies and brands, so when you come across a story that warms your heart, you just get that ‘feel good’ sensation, and feel the need to share such a story. So here it is:

Just yesterday, a missing child in Saudi Arabia was found thanks to…take a wild guess…Twitter!

16 year old Faisal Fri vanished from his family home in Dhahran, and within minutes a hashtag was born: #FaisalDH . An image of Faisal, as well as the contact information for his family was tweeted and retweeted with this hashtag, and a mere 3 hours later he was found safe and sound. The initial tweet that started it impressively made it to the Top Tweet position due to the many times it was retweeted and mentioned.

On the same note, but in a different region, a similar thing happened to a 14 year old girl in London in a few months ago. Serena Beakhurst went missing in December, and thanks to the efforts of hundreds on Twitter and Facebook, was found a few weeks later in the exact spot she went missing . Her family sent various messages of thanks to people who supported and helped spread the word, as well as highlighting the power of Social Media.

It is indeed a heart-warming thing to see the Twitter community (or social network community) comes together from all walks of life, not knowing anything about a person, but driven by the innate drive to help others.