The use of social media in the Middle East – what’s the best platform?

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Two of Seven’s more experienced (older) PR professionals have been in the UK to get to grips with social media through a series of training sessions – and the way it is influencing their attitude to social media strategy in Dubai is shaping Seven’s approach.

Looking at the use of Arabic language to tell a global brand story in the Middle East, there is no doubt Twitter has huge power. Short and sharp soundbites with great content to really cut through the noise and get directly to the target audience. But, on more local and lifestyle-based stories it has little effect. Yes, government and corporate communications campaigns that require an authoritative voice do need Twitter, but the impact seems to be growing less over time. Twitter is also very expensive to promote your content, compared to the other major channels.

On Instagram, the visual approach works well but can you really tell a serious story on Instagram? The majority of big businesses say no and it for that reason it is only part of the mix. There is also an increasing reluctance to have a separate regional page on Insta, as brands aim for global strategies. But with the right, powerful content, visual campaigns can grab the Instagram audience.

So where does Facebook fit in? For an audience in middle-age and with families it is the go-to – but when you add in Arabic to the mix it is not so clear.

And therein lies the puzzle for communications professionals. Bring them in from different regions across the globe and put them into a room together and it is clear that not only is the relevance of each social media platform changing, it is becoming more diverse country-by-county, making it a more complex process than ever before.