Social Media Forum Abu Dhabi Reviewed in 140 Characters

online_strategy_legoThe Social Media Forum was the 1st dedicated event on social media aspect in the MENA region which took place at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center on 18-19 October 2009. Unfortunately, I didn’t attend the event but followed the hashtags – #iir and #socialmediaforum – on twitter to get some sought-after quotes and general status.  By human nature many of you would be asking on the status of such event: it’s new forum, new topic to the region, and new people gathered together. Therefore, I have requested/gathered randomly some feedback on The Social Media Forum using Twitter search and hashtags for two reasons: to utilize social media in crowd-sourcing process and to be as brief as possible – in 140 characters.

My personal review comes in clear plain English or call it Social Media 101 : Why didn’t The Social Media Forum use Twitter platform properly? No twitter page customization was done properly, no proper username, no tweet on the event management status that excite people around it to show that it’s really going to happen, no tweet on the final preparation rather they went quiet, no body assigned a hashtag so people ended-up using couple of them, no professional setting for twitter feed page for their hashtag followers, and not tweets until this moment (last tweet was on Oct 8th). Don’t you agree with me that if The Social Media Forum team was using Twitter and other platforms properly it would have been a good case study by itself.

Here is a random selection of tweeples’ review or opinion:

Moe Zainal (tweet details)


Lina Vasiloudis (tweet details)


mxmajid (tweet details)


Shashi Menon (tweet details)


Ayesha Saeed (tweet details)


Yousef Tuqan Tuqan (tweet details)


Samantha Dancy (tweet details)


(P.S. Even if your tweets are under public domain, please let us know if you wish to drop your tweet from showing on this article anytime info(@)

Let us know your comments


author avatar

Tarek is the founder and chief researcher at Youngberry, a youth research and marketing firm dedicated to the region. Tarek founded and previously worked as Manager at Flip Media (Interactive Agency), (Job Site) and Consulting House Qatar (Consulting firm). He is researcher and writer on internet & disruptive innovation, entrepreneurship, and youth culture.


  1. Thanks Tarek – Transparency is required of course, although not always easy 😉 Hope to see you at the event in December thanks for the response 🙂

  2. Thanks Oliver for accepting my comment and audience review and comments as well.

    I also appreciated your detailed explanation and revealing the good things as well as what the event was missing.

    Yes, your are true about the Traditional/Classic Media Versus or integrated with New Media, and it’s implementation in such organization. is very good job you have done, probably it would be excellent job (for you internally) since you can see the level of interaction and statistics. I always love community open-discussion two way discussions.

    And yes, we can arrange a catch up to discuss the challenges and best practices in our industry.

    Good luck in your next upcoming event,


  3. Thanks Ajjit for your comment and thanks Steve for clarifying who is Ajjit.

    Steve- Thanks for taking the time to read this article and related comments. To be honest, I have seen your tweets during the event but didn’t post them over here along with the rest since you were announced as supporting sponsor to the event and would like always to avoid biased reviews. Yet, I wasn’t expecting that you would be such a transparent person, which is obvious in your comment above.I really appreciate this foundation in being un-biased about your work.

    My question that was drawn above in the article was answered, I can image the limitation and framework: limited number of seats, limited budget, ADNEC logistics, etc… That’s actually very clear on the event’s status with respect to the social media vehicle implementation.

    Harnessing the Power of Social Media Marketing (for people who would like to get more details, you can visit “Industry Event Calendar” on this website), I would probably attend; yet I can’t confirm because I’m still daily consultant to my clients on my paid job 😉

    Hope to see you soon,


  4. Ajjit – you do consult for us so you have to say that, although I thought you may call me Steve and not Vaile!. With regards to Shashi Menon’s comments – really that is his view – it would have been nice for him to tell me at the event but I guess tweeting is less confrontational. It is hard to chair, because you are limited to structuring your delivery to a general audience and you don’t want to lose people by deep diving into bits and bytes. I had good feedback as well, and our monitoring is generally reporting good feedback,.

    In response to your comments Tarek – Actually Social Media was used to market the event, although it was not driven by IIR. Actually we worked with IIR to continuously Twitter about the event, we also request some of our more influential friends in the space and the speakers to pre-tweet the event. To add to this there were personal invitation emails sent to over 100,000 people working in the technology investment sector and Media sectors using H2O mailing lists, plus face book posts, and conversations between social media channels on YouTube etc. This was a very light touch influence based marketing run – not at all a large social media campaign mainly because there were only 150 seats. This plus excellent execution on behalf of the IIR event team with direct marketing and sales efforts saw day one oversold to standing room only, day two was also a full house.

    I do agree that the during event there could have been some more facilities – however this is pretty much down to ADNEC, you have to pay for internet access, and i guess as the first event of its type budget was limited. However in summary not to bang on but the event sold out – that is great news for everyone in our sector. The speakers were pretty good to, I guess next year it will improve.

    In all fairness to Oliver who does work for IIR (I dont think he ever said he didn’t) he is the head of digital and was there in a capacity of a delegate not marketing the event – knowing Oliver as I do I can assure you he would not tow a company line if he thought it was awful.

    Tarek there is another event called the Social Media Marketing forum in a few weeks in Dubai, it would be great to meet you at that event, I have been reading Interactive for a while now – this is my first comment sorry its such a monster! keep fighting the good fight 🙂 Hope to meet you soon.


  5. The forum was excellent – excellent speakers and a great networking opportunity, I thought Vaile was one of the better speakers, but there is no accounting for taste. Overall I would rate it a B+ – a monitor with live twitter updates would have been great but I think that this is more to do with the ADNEC facility than IIR. My two cents.

  6. Hey everyone
    Thanks for the responses.
    Yes I do work for IIR, but I was not in charge of the twitter account, I did have access to it (as you have noticed).
    The comment I left on my post are my personal opinions and not related to the company, but below are those related to my company.
    I believe my tone was set in an appropriate manner for the way I wanted to portray my opinions about your blog post and you are true in the fact that yes these were some of the comments made by individuals.
    One point that I feel should be raised here before I continue is that IIR is a company that has previously relied on classic marketing approaches (including Fax believe it or not as numbers still respond to that form of marketing), we have collected the results. It is difficult for a company to understand and explore new ways of marketing to a different generation of people and if you attended last years new media forum, you will have noticed a huge increase in the use of Social Media as a marketing tool (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) were all used as part of a trial to understand the uptake, this trial is not just being used for Social/New/Classic media events, but we are starting to engage with our customers on a different level based on long term relationships as we believe this is the key to holding a successful business going forward. We have recently launched, not to market to them, but to get a better insight into the industry so that we can tailor our products to provide more value to what the industries wants and needs.
    Me, I am not a journalist, I come from a development background and have been working with social media (aka web 2.0 aka communities) for more than 12 years from both a technical level as well as business analyst level and have seen the changes in how people communicate online. To me twitter is broadcast and not narrow cast as you have mentioned, this is mainly to do with the fact that companies spray information out into the public domain and some people consume that and either re-purpose it or re-broadcast the content, similar to what news channels do with breaking news stories (That’s my analogy hope it makes sense).
    About the event, Andrew Bleeker was a legend, said everything right and nothing wrong (In my personal opinion). Talking about how and why you should integrate social media experts within senior management and not some 22 year old intern who does not understand how to operate within the realms of company policy (Have I fallen foul of this? 🙂 ). To me, what Andrew has pointed out is that this is a must if companies want to use social media not just as a marketing tool, but as a way of business.
    Now when it comes to Martin Newland, I thought he was fantastic, he made me want to go back to the UK, pick up a copy of the Sunday Times, grab a cup of tea and read the paper before the grand prix come on TV, I miss that and I think he is right that media is being broken down into what we (I mean me personally by this) perceive as manageable chunks of media to consume as I don’t have (won’t make) time available to consume detailed (full) content.
    I also think the event missed out on some key issues, ComCast was mentioned about how they used twitter to great success when it came to customer service, if my memory serves me correctly, they also got slated about their use of twitter as the phone support was below average and only customers using twitter were being dealt with ‘effectively’.
    So, customer service is one point where social media is left out in the dark and there are some fantastic case studies around this.
    The main area I think was missing, was a about the future of what social media will bring. Marketing + Sales + Customer Service + Online + Offline (if applicable) = Integrated Digital customer experience. Basically, the customer can engage with your company/brand/product where he/she wants about any parts of the business (sales, support etc) and get the same level of service, no more hit 1 for customer service, 2 for……
    I agree it lacked the understanding of how to analyse, track and monitor, a lot of people talk about listening being the first thing you should do, listen to what they are saying, I think this is wrong, you need to research (understand the value, identify the risk, define your demographics, Can you identify an ROI? Do you care about an ROI?).
    So to finally wrap my ramblings to a close, third party spectation does happen (which have have delivered and observed), you have highlighted the success and failures ( which are valid), but personally I think my point still stands, there was a clear and defined use for twitter within the marketing campaign which worked better than we had hoped (internally). Personally I find twitter page customisations a turn off, page load times in the middle east are slow at the best of times and I also do not use mySpace for this very reason.

    I do agree that we, as a company, could have used it to greater avail in terms of what you and I probably agree on what is best practice for social media use, but the time we had available for this event based on the fact that it was a side show for the SIM exhibition. But in order to defend the event, yes I believe I can defend it as it over achieved on every aspect (ROI met, experiment completed, research and insight gained).

    Thanks Tarek, would love to talk about Social Media in detail in person of a drink at some point. 

    Also, I do actually value your website and comments on pretty much all of the articles posted.


  7. A general rule, whenever you post multiple links in the comment, it will go to moderation to avoid spamming. So it’s not your iPhone problem.

    I will delete the duplicates.


  8. Tarek, btw i am not spamming the blog 😉 . it’s just that i am using the damn iphone to post and for some reason it’s not showing my comments!!! please delete the extra comments..


  9. Hi Oliver,

    Thanks for your note and comment.

    From the tone-of-voice you’re writing with and based on what your linkedin profile shows, you work for IIR (IIR is the organizer of this event) on this project and part of it, and I would understand if you were behind managing their twitter account. So let’s be fair and reveal the identity and we welcome you to our website.

    Now, let’s be fair.

    I would like you to re-read my first paragraph, it mentions clearly how great such forum to be organized in terms of content and place and how I would have attended it if I was able to.

    Also, I would like to let you know that I haven’t mentioned that Twitter is a social media by itself, I think both of us should agree that Twitter is a social media “tool”, that’s for sure. Now, if you didn’t use Twitter or other platforms for social media as a tool, which tools would you be using? If not Twitter, Youtube, Facebook, Linkedin, Blogs, etc… can you define to me how would you achieve a social media strategy without them?

    To use Twitter properly, you would require to achieve it through a set of criteria, which I’m not going to list or argue about because it doesn’t need a Guru to define them, or even returning back to your speakers at the event would help you. What I was agruing about precisely, if you weren’t actually trying to achieve sales, generate hype, or excite people about the event through social media; what was your Twitter account objective then?

    Also, I would prefer not defining Twitter as broadcasting tool, it’s literary narrow-casting tool.

    Since I didn’t attend the forum, I have mentioned clearly that as I’m from outside and have listed some random tweets of people who actually attended the event and reviewed it in a tweet. Why would you argue me about it?

    I would have expected from someone like you not to defend this event, do you know why? simply because it’s great one…. yet I encourage you to create an account at a social media feedback platforms like or or even talk to them personally via twitter and try to investigate more.

    The bottom line: IIR Middle East, with all respect to them as they have done great events including this one, my question was why did they deal with it as if it’s private equity, banking, or recruitment forum, and literary not using what they are trying to educate. Wouldn’t you agree with me that it would be great case study if all attendees attended this event based on your social media efforts?

    Dude, if it’s happening next year, I’m attending. But let’s just accept the reviews of your audience and learn from the mistakes.

    Hope everything is clear to you now,


  10. Hi Oliver,

    just to answer ur question, “Use of twitter properly” … first, let’s see what some of the speakers though about twitter : one of them said “Twitter is like an RSS feed” !!!! and another “We use Twitter to push traffic to the website” !!, another said “My rule is, follow people they will follow you, this is how it works”!!!!!!

    Now, in my opinion and i think this is what Tarek touched on. Using twitter (for businesses) should be part of an overall SM strategy to meet certain goals like “better customer service”, “generating leads”, “creating buzz and hype”, “push ur news” ……… i recommend reading articles like and

    btw i attended the event, and i think it covered some great learnings along with some (bad thought-technology focused-strategy lacking) presentations.

  11. BTW… IT’S ONLY 125 charecters and not 140.. it’s not fair, i need my 15 chars .
    also could you please use my replay to InteractiveMe on Social media forum feedback 🙂

  12. I think Tarek has a valid point on why didn’t they use twitter at the first place to tweet about what was happening before, during and after the event since “twitter” as a platform was the most discussed trending topic.

    The Forum was good, It was slow the first day for some of us since they were talking broadly about SM, but Obama’s campaign case study which was presented by “Andrew Bleeker” was a refresher.

    The second day was better with good case studies, Etisalat however didn’t mention much about proximity advertising when it comes to smart phones.

    The forum lacked in depth topics about the importance of Analytics and how to measure success since digital is addressable, from Brand monitoring point of view it was mentioned briefly but wasn’t presented properly, like how to use the available free tools to monitor your brand reputation online, i screencasted that on my blog @

    overall it was a good forum for beginners-intermediates with lots of good case studies that we all can learn from.

  13. Hi, please define the ‘Use of twitter properly’?
    I thought this was a great event, it was nearly not even put on at all due to the belief that the region was not ready, I for one am glad it was put on, twitter is not social media, as anyone will tell you, it is just a wide spread broadcast messaging system.

    It is articles like this that put people off of exploring social media as a way of business with negative feedback on the marketing, so begs the question, what are the positives you have taken from this event? or do you feel inclined to comment/review based on the fact you did not attend!

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