Through the report of the top 40 Arab brands in the Middle East, completed through Forbes.com in 2008, I found, unfortunately, that only 2 brands have active social media marketing activity, all other brands have abandoned profiles, un-updated twitter and YouTube accounts, or simply no presence at all!
After navigating through AL Jazeera channel social activity on the web, I have noticed that the brand has vast success in connecting with people using new media channels, so I tried to state below the channels used and some observations on each channel. The selection of the brand wasn’t about how many followers or fans on profiles, it was based on the activity and engagement on different social platforms:
• Facebook: Aljazeera is hyper-active on Facebook, having exceeded 1 million fans, not one Arab brand is even close to such an enormous number. AL Jazeera channel goes the extra mile by adding another fan pages for its top viewed programs to keep fans updated, opens a human dialogue with fans by getting their feedback on major news and have developed many applications on Facebook with high number of active users up to 40,000. Rich with tabs to YouTube and twitter accounts, the fan page is updated regularly with breaking and top news, allowing fans to have another place to discuss and express opinions freely.
• Twitter: an active account with more than 182,000 followers, all breaking news is sent with links of the website.
• YouTube: rich channel with more than 80,000 subscribers, the YouTube page directly opens a live stream from the channel, we can see that AL Jazeera channel invested through YouTube ad buy to add many customized options, full skin branding, with organized content; AL Jazeera channel upload most of its live episodes in full versions for viewers to watch it later on at the time desired.
• Mobile: I Phone, blackberry and android apps are available where people get latest updates directly and watch al Jazeera live on their mobile.
• Website & Blog: all social platforms are integrated in the two; AL Jazeera brand has activated comments and share buttons on all news & products. In addition to a podcast option, they have a microsite (the most interesting of all) encouraging people to participate by submitting their own content of opinions, news and videos; where it will be broadcasted if proper thus giving people a real sense of contribution and participation.
AL Jazeera is doing a remarkable job in cross-promoting social assets through different channels; all social platforms are constantly communicated through TV & website inviting people to subscribe.
Instead of being totally ravished with the merge of new media, AL Jazeera brand adjusted its position as a traditional media channel promptly; it understood that it’s in the broadcasting business, not TV! With no denial & quick action it integrated the new media channels to connect & engage people in meaningful ways. AL Jazeera brand definitely serves as a model for other Arab brands to follow… before it’s too late!
Please share what you think below if you’d like to see any additions or suggestions of other top Arab brands embracing social media in the Middle East.
Amer is the founder of Hashtag, a new social media agency that specializes in humanizing brands on the web in the Middle East.