Closed Groups – The Future of Social

The Facebook Group is nothing new. Spaces for like-minded people to come together and discuss specific topics have been around since social media’s earliest days. These groups have seen particular growth over the past year, however, becoming a vital part of social media users’ daily lives.

Snapchat was the first platform to capitalise entirely on closed-group sharing. Their goal was to be the space where people shared private messages, images and videos with close friends. The result? Massive success. The increasing publicity of an individual’s online presence revealed the need for such sharing.

Remember the early days of Facebook when the platform represented somewhat of a safe space – most interactions were with real people, many of them friends and family. It was a place to showcase yourself, your preferences, your personality. This sort of intimacy on social networks has been undone by their own success. Newsfeeds are overflowing with clickbait, fake news and advertising galore. Cue closed-group sharing popularity growth.

Since this shift, Facebook has become the space for sharing your public persona – a less authentic, more curated persona. Meanwhile, Snapchat became the space for the ‘real’ persona, where individuals feel more comfortable sharing intimate details about their daily lives because they are sharing with people they know and trust.

Closed-group social platforms enable a new behavior of sharing. By reducing the cognitive overhead of publicly posting, these companies are betting on users sharing more often. In other words – with less mental math deducting who will see your post, story, photo – the more (and more often) users will share.

Recent reports have indicated that Instagram is hopping on this closed-group social train by developing an app called Threads.

Threads is designed as a sister app to Instagram, and invites users to automatically share their location, speed and battery life, along with more typical text, photo and video messages with friends. (Does sharing your location or battery sound strange to you? Don’t forget, Snapchat introduced these features years ago).

The ultimate goal of Threads? Promote constant, automatic sharing between users and the people on their ‘close friends’ list on Instagram. Reportedly, you will even be able to opt into automatic sharing, and Threads will regularly update your status without you having to type or click anything at all.

So, for companies and brands who rely on social networks to reach customers, whether through advertising or organic, personalised interactions, closed-group sharing has been an important player in the massive decline of organic engagement and reach.

Does closed-group sharing point toward the future of social media in general? A means to recover and authenticity the trust that Facebook began with? And if so, what does this mean for branded pages striving to reach the vast online audience?

That’s where Seven Media, one of the top social media agencies in Dubai comes in, addressing challenges is our specialty. Get in touch, we’d love to hear your thoughts!

Mental health in the media

In 2019, it is not unusual to see the words ‘mental health’, ‘sustainability’ and, ‘well-being’ featured frequently across media and social channels, as the topics become a much more fluid conversation for everyone.

The world of PR must adapt to this and move with the motion it heads in, veganism is on the rise, people care more about their health than ever before, and brands must recognise and deliver for these growing factors. From hotels in the Middle East such as JA Resorts and Hotels becoming the most sustainable resort in Dubai, to vegan/gluten-free restaurants and cafés such as Bounty Beets.

But what about mental health? Does the media have a responsibility to promote healthy practices and feature brands that are bringing mental health to the forefront? Mental health satisfaction is one of the key performance indicators of the pillar of world-class healthcare of the UAE National Agenda. The UAE Government is regularly undertaking new measures to address mental health issues and reduce the stigma associated with it.

“Informed journalists can have a significant impact on public understanding of mental health issues as they shape debate and trends with the words and pictures they convey.”

Rosalynn Carter, Former First Lady of the United States

Celebrities and public figures such as actors Dwayne Johnson and Gina Rodriguez, and singers such as Ariana Grande and Jesy Nelson have also broken their silence and used their social media platforms to share their own stories about their mental health. This has even led to documentaries that are being urged to be shown in schools and colleges around the world to encourage others to take accountability for their words and actions.

An increasing number of brands are bringing out products/services to raise awareness around mental health too, or raising money for organisations that specialise in treating mental illness. For example, a theatre company in London invited influencers to promote a show about mental health called “Brainfood”.

At the same time, an influx of wellness brands are launching everything from functional fragrances to nutritional supplements in the name of stress reduction. Huge global brands are also choosing to highlight such topics, such as Burger King. With their anti-Happy meals, Burger King partnered with the non-profit Mental Health America to launch the Real Meal campaign to create the message ‘no-one is happy all the time’. This was a clever dig at their main competitor, McDonald’s, but powerful nonetheless.

As we learn to adapt in an age where social media is part of our lives, choosing to carry on the conversations of mental health and providing strategies and solutions going forward remains very high on the agenda and a topical subject in the media landscape.

The importance of the Arabic language in social media

The importance of the Arabic language in social media

The continued growth of social media in the MEA region has had a large number of positive impacts for both individuals and businesses, however we have witnessed by and large most brands investing in creating English-first content.

A recent report compiled by Crowd Analyzer, Hootsuite and APCO has shed light on the state of social media in the MEA region, focusing on its biggest players – Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. Seemingly the most comprehensive report on social media in the Middle East, it demonstrates that while English and Arabic are the two most used languages in the region, going more in-depth with market-specific statistics, Arabic is the primary language used to communicate across all sectors.

Below we have compiled a few of the key takeaways from the report regarding the use of Arabic on social media:

–    The most commonly used languages on social media in the Middle East are English (48%) and Arabic (45%)

–    30% of all social media users in the region are between the ages of 15 and 29

–    Arabic is the fastest-growing language on Twitter, among 25 other languages used on the platform

–    The majority of social media users in Saudi Arabia use Arabic to communicate. In 2018, the number of Arabic-language users grew by almost 35%, going from 7.6M at the end of 2017 to 10M at the end of 2018. Meanwhile, English-language users grew by only 3% in the same timeframe.

From these points, we can understand how important it is to include the Arabic language when creating content. Producing Arabic language content will show your audience that your brand cares about their preferences and is willing to tackle all customer queries, concerns and feedback, regardless of whether they are submitted in English or Arabic.

Lastly, including Arabic language content will differentiate your brand from other brands in the region, many of which do not produce Arabic content.

Seven are all-round communicators, equally strong in Arabic and English, and as one of the leading digital agencies in Dubai, we truly know how to connect with an audience – from the emerging generation of influencers to big business decision makers – and everyone in between.

Podcasts – The Hidden Gem of Middle East Media

Podcasts – The new medium of the Middle East? If recent studies are anything to go by this could very well be true. Current data shows the increasing popularity of podcasts in the region with 16% of the population now tuning in at least once a week, making the UAE on par with the UK for listeners per capita. Additionally, according to one UAE media report, some podcasts saw their listenership double between 2017 and 2018, with three quarters of the population now having heard of podcasts.

So, with podcasts clearly increasing in popularity, the question is should brands and business be taking note? In short, the answer is yes. Not only are they one of the fastest growing media mediums, but for their regular listeners they are the most trusted. And whilst regular listeners are still in the minority, this is set to change as data has predicted a “tipping point” could soon be happening with regular listeners soon becoming a huge portion of the country. The global media are also taking notice with renowned America publication WIRED commenting that “Podcast listeners really are the holy grail advertisers hoped they’d be”.

If brands need even more reasons to jump on this new bandwagon, some of the stats that have been produced should suffice. In a recent report conducted by Infinite Dial in the United States, they found that 54% of the study said they were either “somewhat” or “much more” likely to consider brands that advertise on podcasts. According to a 4DC report they have found that regular podcast listeners, on average, outspend non-regular listeners by 26% and, not only that, but they also spend 25% more on food and drink over non-listeners.

This significant difference in spending power is boiled down to the assumption that those who listen to podcasts are “more educated” and therefore more likely to have a higher income. Whilst this prediction may seem presumptuous, a recent study  has seemly verified the speculation thanks to a swelling data pool, (particularly via Edison’s Infinite Dial and Nielsen’s Total Audience reports).

The only question left to answer is not why but how? How do businesses infiltrate this somewhat untapped market, and how can they do so by maintaining the authenticity it thrives on? The first and most obvious solution is to sponsor a podcast. The outcome being that those delivering the podcast would include a soundbite generally at the start of the podcast of the brand or business in question. Plain, easy and effective. For those wanting to create a higher level of positive sentiment and more authentic approach, you’ll have to do some more work. Reaching out to podcast hosts sharing your product in the hope that they will organically talk about your product is an end goal. Alternatively, establish yourself as a thought-leader in your industry and feature as a guest on industry-related podcasts to grow brand awareness in an organic way.

In short, podcasts increasing popularity, attractive audience and trustworthiness are a real no brainer for business and brands to explore. Looking to advertise or push your brand though podcasts? Look no further than Seven Media to be on the pulse of all things current in the Middle East.

Hello Future, we’re coming for you!

Instagram has been consistently rolling out new features for their community for some time now. As one of the most popular social platforms in the world, with one of the most heavily active user bases (500 million people access the app daily), in order to remain relevant and retain users’ interests, Instagram has to keep on evolving.

At its developers’ conference in April this year, Facebook announced its augmented reality platform – Spark AR. The platform was initially only available to a select group of creators and is where all those fun little Instagram Effects (hello cute dog ears!) were created. This exciting AR tool is now available to the entire Instagram community, meaning anyone can create augmented reality filters and effects for Instagram Stories!

Instagram isn’t the first to open up its filter technology, following suit of Snapchat which opened access to its Lens Filters last year. Social media has become a massive content generation destination in recent years, consistently adding creative tools for both users and brands alike.

Brands are in a continuous adaption of their marketing methods as social platforms become a playground for so much creativity and self-expression. Augmented reality has absolutely exploded, and will no doubt have a tremendous impact on how brands market themselves in the coming years. Those who jump in early to learn the ropes and find creative ways to build and share their own branded AR experiences will be best positioned to reap the tremendous benefits of Instagram AR, and ultimately be ahead of the game in this new age of advertising.

Are you ready to jump into the world of tomorrow? As one of the best social media agencies in Dubai, Seven Media is here for all your digital needs!

The power of video in PR

These days anyone can make a video. It can be produced and presented to an audience quickly, easily and with very little spend involved.

As the owner of video production company and owner of a PR company, that might seem like an odd thing to say. But it’s true.

There are, however, one or two important caveats to consider when examining this fact.

I was recently invited by PRCA MENA to speak about the role of video in today’s communications landscape and its use in social media and PR campaigns.

Rather than extol the virtues of moving images on a screen and their impact versus print or social media it was important to explain that, without a strong story at its core, most video content can easily end up being unfit for purpose.

As a former journalist, I understand the power of a story, how it can carry a message to a wide audience and elicit a response. People are hard-wired to remember stories – our belief systems are based around stories; they unite us, inspire us, create movements, influence behavior and build cultures.

Stories are at the heart of everything. They are used to cement power and start revolutions.

The principals of what makes a great story apply to any format, be it written or video. A story must engage, inform, entertain, and relate to its audience.

Because of the way people consume video content nowadays, these principals are even more important.

There’s endless data out there to show what type of videos are watched by certain kinds of people, at a particular time of day and in specific countries.

But the underlying fact is unless you’re producing a quality product, all you’re doing is adding to the hundreds of thousands of hours of forgettable content that already exists.

If your story is strong enough, it will achieve the greatest results. It will get your message across and it will meet the needs of your client.

For your message to have the desired impact, you need to ‘humanize’ it. People’s interest will always be piqued by other people – by what they are doing and feeling and how they are acting.

No one wants to be TOLD how a brand or movement is relevant to them, they want to be SHOWN in an engaging, informative, entertaining and relatable way.

From a PR perspective, the market for great video content continues to grow and grow.

People often talk about the shrinking media landscape, but it is expanding with new online platforms appearing all the time – and video gives you incredible access to these new publishing opportunities.

As traditional media outlets come to terms with reduced editorial and broadcast budgets, they are eager to use supplied video content that meets their standards. Be this bespoke social media or web content, B-roll for events or on-camera interviews, it is all in demand.

There are tangible results to this – a great story in partnership with great media relations can deliver a powerful message.

However, video, like print before it, is also a slave to people’s reduced attention spans. With viewers willing to spend less time watching a video, the content needs to not only be strong but also tailored to the platform that best engages with your desired audience.

How it’s presented has a huge impact on how it is received.

From using the correct format for the platform, editing size and running time for social media, to something as simple as adding subtitles, this all plays a role in how your message is consumed.

At its very essence, making effective video content is straightforward.

Create the strongest possible idea. Decide on the process and agree on the desired result. Be original and cut through the clutter. Catch people’s attention and tell a truly great story. 

If all these ingredients are present, you’ll have the recipe for success.

Watch Gregg’s presentation to the PRCA at: https://vimeo.com/342918793

The elusive Instagram algorithm

Social media agency Dubai - The elusive Instagram algorithm

Algorithm – it’s a word that has been bounced around a lot in the social sphere of late. But what exactly is this elusive Instagram and Facebook algorithm? And what can we do to make sure we’re on the right side of it?

Well, the bad news is that there is no correct answer. Or if there is, the Zuckerberg’s of the world are keeping it tightly locked up at Facebook HQ. But here’s what we do know…

Firstly, algorithms are ever changing. There’s no one secret to success that is everlasting. As such, social media strategies must constantly evolve to meet both social trends and your specific audience needs and preferences. What has been successful this month, may not work so well next month. And that golden strategy that was formulated last year, may not turn as many heads this year. 

So the first secret to success comes from monitoring and iteration. Take note of what is working successfully and what is not. It’s vital to constantly reassess your plan to ensure you are effectively engaging your audience.

Quality over quantity. There is no golden number when it comes to frequency of posting. As a rule of thumb, it’s best to put yourself in the followers’ shoes. Would you want to see repetitive, branded content appearing in your feed or stories every few hours? Of course not! Ensure your content is engaging, high-resolution and of interest or value to the follower.

Now, time to bust some myths. Despite widespread speculation, Instagram and Facebook have categorically denied ‘hiding’ user posts from their followers. Instead, remember that they reward accounts posting content that users enjoy seeing and engage with. Instagram announced that “What shows up first in your feed is determined by what posts and accounts you engage with the most, as well as other contributing factors such as the timeliness of posts, how often you use Instagram, how many people you follow, etc.” While they’re playing their cards close to their chest, our takeaway from this, paired with our experience managing brands’ social media accounts from around the globe, is that a holistic approach is necessary. Every aspect of your channel needs to be considered and planned for in order to achieve maximum success.

It’s vital to utilise all the features that social media platforms offer in order to gain maximum exposure and engagement. The total sum of our efforts on a platform are what yield results at the end of the month or quarter. On Instagram, for example, it’s not just about posting images to your feed. Make sure you’re active on stories and making use of the variety of engagement stickers available, test the waters with IGTV (…as long as the video is within the correct dimensions!), regularly update Instagram highlights, actively engage with followers who message and comment, follow accounts that are relevant to you or your brand and utilise hashtags.

Last, but by no means least, always keep in mind that social media is supposed to be FUN! Get creative, try new things and don’t be afraid to push boundaries. As one of the top social media agencies in Dubai, Seven Media is here to help.

The importance of new updates on social media

The Importance of New Updates on Social Media

New updates on different social media platforms can always be a little confusing. But look at the bright side of it, these updates bring along with them a handful of perks to boost your social media presence.

Tried and tested with successful reliable results, right here at Seven Media!

Since its inception, social media and its incorporation in businesses across platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter have undergone immense amounts of updates. All of which have definitely made life in the social and digital world a lot easier and better.

In the past year, Instagram incorporated new and inventive updates; one of which is was to add stickers to our Instagram stories. Besides being fun and entertaining, the key benefit derived from this update is the increase in engagement that arises from using stickers like polls, quizzes or the ‘ask a question’ feature on stories. As predicted by our social gurus, Instagram stories indicated a 30% increase in engagement as compared to that on posts. Talk about the power of new updates!

A recent update, the ease of sharing a post on multiple accounts on Instagram simultaneously and handling Instagram direct messages via Facebook, highlights the convenience factor of why constant updates are fruitful for social media marketing. Adding to the pros, with the introduction of the livestream feature on social platforms, delivering live content from events, conferences and other occasions is now made possible, grabbing the attention of a fairly large target audience within a short span of time.

While new updates help improve engagement, the algorithms on certain platforms do not always cooperate. To stay ahead in the game, it is crucial for your posts to be on top and be visible to your followers. Our predictions are that these social platforms will introduce new updates to change the algorithm. As a result, audiences will be exposed to good quality content than that based on engagement. And if social media isn’t your forte, leave it to the experts at Seven Media, the best social media agency in Dubai, to take care of it!

On that note, make sure to keep up with the new updates and use it to your greatest advantage…

What did the Bottle Cap Challenge teach us?

Seven Media - What did the Bottle Cap Challenge teach us

If there was anything to learn from a bunch of videos of bottle caps getting kicked open, it would be timing. Not stamina, not technique, not plastic awareness, but timing. How crucial it is to be on top of the trending content. How you can ride on a hashtag wave to ensure your brand is heard and seen in the extremely dynamic social and digital space out there. The age-old rule of timing – you snooze, you lose.

Take for example how the stop motion animator Kevin B Parry did a branded piece with Malibu. Whether it was a collab or not, posting a creative entry to the Bottle Cap Challenge did manifold goodness to the two entities. It gave immense exposure to Kevin’s animation skills, and it gave brilliant publicity to Malibu being the chosen bottle for the stunt. The trend was current, interesting and grabbed eyeballs for its twist in the end.

Having said that, do not get onto the trend if it’s not the thing for your brand. The bottle cap challenge was perfect for Malibu (which comes in a bottle, you bet). It would also make sense for fitness brands, gyms etc. to jump onto the wagon, as they can all be relatable in a way. But an out-of-context post from an unrelated brand is the last thing you can suggest as content. Which brings us to the next lesson – relatability.

When Zomato initiated a multi-brand anti-marketing tweet-athon, brands hopped on to the game with delight at the prospective exposure. The catch was: when Zomato tweets “Guys, sometimes eat home-cooked food too..”, and when Amazon Prime tweets “Guys, sometimes watch cable TV too…”, everyone knows what’s being spoken of, versus a lesser known transportation brand tweeting “Guys, sometimes work from your home too”. That’s when things get awkward as nobody gets the reference and your tweet does little to end the #FOMO as the social wave goes by.

The last lesson – the twist. While it’s great to be part of the trend/challenge, you hit the sweet spot of exposure if your content has the twist. Everyone can share bottle caps getting kicked out. But if you can create a difference, it makes the content exciting and more appealing to the target audience. Consider Mariah Carey singing to blast off the cap, or the social media star Kusha Kapila’s Bollywood version (where the cap bounces off to hit a bowl of ‘sindoor’ which then conveniently lands on the wife’s forehead, no less!), or Kendall Jenner casually swinging the cap off while riding a jetski. The twist made all these videos stand out.

So the next time you sense a social trend coming up, or a social challenge brewing, step back and consider – Is it relatable to my brand? How soon can I post on it? How can I bring the twist? If you have the right answers, go for it. If you don’t, it’s okay to ‘cheat’ and come to us, one of the best social media agencies in Dubai. We can make the magic happen for you.

Keeping a secret is harder than ever

Seven Media - Keeping a secret is harder than ever

Last month, the famous Barasti Beach at Le Meridien Mina Seyahi launched House of Whatever – a disruptive concept which promises almost four months of spontaneity. Packed with ever-changing experiences and impromptu parties, Barasti wants to be the most talked-about destination in the region and it’s our job to make that happen.

“Expect the unexpected” is the House of Whatever mantra, and with a line-up of high-calibre international artists heading to Barasti, the hardest part for us as PR professionals is that our lips are sealed. That’s right, no revealing who the act will be until post-event. Ouch.

Just last week, a music artist who has sold more that 15 million records worldwide was set to perform a free one-off event at Barasti and we couldn’t talk about it. This put us in a tricky position. How is a story newsworthy to a publication if they don’t know what the story really is? How do we drive footfall to the venue without revealing the name?

When it comes to communicating the House of Whatever message and creating a hype without revealing any secrets, the integrated PR strategy had to be on point and ahead of the game.

We dropped hints to media across several platforms to kick-off the guessing game and drive hype surrounding the event. What we learned is that relationships with media are key, timing is critical, the power of social media is strong and ultimately, that keeping a secret is harder than ever!

Rumours spread like wildfire and took over some of the largest social communities in the region. An unknown source leaked the artist name on Facebook just hours before he was set to take the stage, however, that didn’t matter because at midnight, none other than R&B superstar Craig David took the stage to perform to a full house at Barasti.