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It has been a year since social media helped spark demonstrations, protest and social-political revolution across the Middle East and North Africa.
The Arab Spring of 2011 saw communication via Facebook, Twitter and YouTube garner a degree of popularity which had yet to be seen in the region – and proved dangerous enough that efforts were made by some governments to shut social services down.
The digital divide and the lack of knowledge in the Middle East is a major barrier to investing in online marketing, according to Econsultancy research published in April this year.
In Econsultancy's State of Digital in MENA Report, some 20% of client-side companies and 42% of agencies said that a lack of understanding about online is preventing their organisation from investing more money in digital.
As further evidence, last year, Shaik Umar, Middle East Head for IDA Singapore, reported that the digital divide and lack of skilled talent are the main problems plaguing the Gulf's IT industry. Part of the reason for the lack of skills is the smaller population of the Gulf compared to other regions.
So, what can companies do to plug the gap and make the most of online marketing?
In his last post on the Econsultancy blog, Tariq Seksek touched upon the importance of competitions, contest and sweepstakes when running a social media campaign in the Middle East.
While some brands may have found success in running such contests, others are of the opinion that competitions equate to buying fans, as the interest of the fans lies in the prize rather than the brand and its offerings.
Whatever camp you belong to – growth by competitions or growth by content - it is important to consider the characteristics of the local market including demographics, usage habits and cultural sensitivities.
Contests and sweepstakes are lucrative in every market, but they're especially important in the Middle East, but these have to be planned and well thought of in advance.
Following the subsequent acquisition of Maktoob by Yahoo, Samih founded Jabbar Internet Group, an integrated group of online companies and websites. The group’s assets extend from e-commerce sites to online games, to advertising products & search services.
I caught up with Samih to find out a little more about the companies within the Jabbar Internet Group, and the future of digital marketing in the Middle East...
So you want to be active in social media and engage with your consumers and followers, but you're not sure if you can handle a negative situation?
Relax, it's not the end of the world. In this article, I'll be sharing with you a simple example that I faced not too long ago and how I managed to turn a potentially negative experience into a positive one.
Digital marketing is thriving in the Middle East, according to new research published today by Econsultancy and supported by ArabianBusiness.com. The survey-based research has found that companies are spending 22% of their marketing budget on digital.
Companies are using a wide range of digital channels for marketing, and investment in online is expected to increase across the board. Encouragingly, over half of companies (58%) are increasing their digital budgets in 2011.
However, the market is still very much in its infancy, and still faces major barriers to investment. Company culture, a reliance on traditional marketing, and a lack of knowledge are preventing companies from investing further money into digital.
This post looks at the current state of digital marketing in the Middle East, and some of the trends covered in our latest report.