This article has been cross-posted from Firnas.org
Twitter is one of the most popular social networks in Saudi Arabia. While for some it is a way to keep updated with news, or stay connected with friends, for others it is seen as the easiest to use and most widespread online marketing tool.
Many companies that have emerged
lately, investing in this fertile environment, including hype, a startup specialized in
social media marketing and account management. During a meeting
with the hype’s Managing Director, Ibrahim Yousef,
we discussed the services his company offers, fake
accounts, and the purpose of account
Firnas: What is hype and how did it start? What solutions does it offer?
Ibrahim Yousef: hype is 100% Saudi, specializing in digital media services, creating innovative online marketing and managing companies’ social media accounts.
We started in 2012. A year later, we
redefined ourselves as an integrated online marketing company that
aims at meeting the needs of the market in terms of social media.
Our clients can come to us with their product, whether it is a
tangible product or a service, or even an idea, and we create an
integrated marketing campaign for them, including all the stages
that the latter entails, from the idea to planning and
implementation, in addition to photography, design, video, posting,
validation and follow-up.
Firnas: What were the main challenges that you faced when launching your startup?
Yousef: We have been targeting medium and large companies from day one. Perhaps the main challenge has been to convince these giants to give us a chance to prove our capabilities. It was very difficult at first to convince them that a small Saudi company would outperform, by virtue of its specialization, those companies that they’re used to.
With time, and as we earned their
trust, we were able to convince our first clients, and we had great
success stories that made more clients approach us.
“Obsession with Twitter account verification derives from showing off”
Firnas: We hear a lot about Twitter account verification. Is it something that enters into the realm of your work? What does it entail and what benefits does it bring to users?
Yousef: There is account verification for Facebook, Vine and Google Plus, and soon the service will be available for Instagram. I won’t deny that the obsession with account verification on Twitter mainly derives from showing off. Its main purpose is to add credibility and to prove to users that the account they’re following is the official one. Yet, verification doesn’t offer any other technical benefits, not even that of protecting the account from theft, as we commonly hear. To answer your question, yes, we do perform account verification for companies – but not individuals – in coordination with Twitter’s official agent in the region and it doesn’t entail any complex conditions.
“Online marketing helps
you reach your target audience accurately”
Firnas: Can we now do without traditional marketing on television, and in the newspaper?
Yousef: There have been books written on the subject so I will try to answer your question briefly. To start, online marketing is not cheaper, it’s just cost effective. It’s also more accurate and fast to plan and even to implement or cancel. With just a few clicks, you can launch your marketing campaign, and with a few other clicks you can stop it, unlike press ads for instance, where companies have had to buy in some instances all the copies of a newspaper issue due to a flagrant mistake that could damage their name! Most importantly, online marketing helps you reach your target audience more accurately.
Let’s give an example to make things clearer. Supposedly, your product is a very luxurious and expensive car, meaning that your target audience must have a high income. Launching an ad about this car on billboards will reach a very wide segment of people, including those with high incomes, but also those who cannot afford the car. So in fact, you will be paying for everyone to see your ad!
Meanwhile, you can post the same
car ad on LinkedIn for instance and target only CEOs and senior
executives. You can also post your ad on Twitter, only targeting
followers of your competitors or on Facebook targeting a relatively
older age group that is interested in luxury cars. In all cases,
you will only have to pay for your ad when the person clicks on it,
i.e. if the person is interested in what you have to say. According
to a report featured in The Wall Street Journal, there are 20
million fake accounts on Twitter.
Firnas: What do you have to say about these numbers? Are there companies you work with who “buy” followers?
Yousef: It’s disturbing indeed. We completely disapprove of it and don’t offer such services. It doesn’t go with our reputation. The first and foremost purpose of these services, especially when it comes to big companies, is when marketing and social media managers are asked to reach a certain number of followers. If the year ended and they still haven’t reached their goal, they resort to cheating. Of course we consider this cheating.
The second purpose is to create a
sense of curiosity among people. A company or a person who has
50,000 followers gives the impression that the content offered is
good and worth following.
Companies should never grow their name and brand identity by cheating. Its negative impact is much greater than its positive one. They should rather strive to grow spontaneously by attracting their target audience and maintaining it.
Firnas: Parminder Singh, Twitter’s Managing Director for Southeast Asia, India and MENA, has mentioned that the most important advice when it comes to building and growing your brand is to target important moments. What are the best moments to market a product or service?
Yousef: It’s great advice indeed. But in my personal opinion, it’s not the most important one.
Mr. Singh most likely means that
when there is an active hashtag on a topic that interests a
clearly-defined segment of people, such as IPO or land prices, the
moment is perfect, for a realtor for instance, to post ads to take
advantage of the momentum. Most people who check this hashtag are
part of the audience that the realtor is trying to target. The
smarter he or she is in using this method and choosing the right
timing, the more people in their target audience will get the
message, and most importantly he or she will be doing all that
without bearing any cost.
Firnas: So what marketing strategies did you adopt?
Yousef: There is an important point that companies and individuals alike should pay attention to. It’s that getting 100,000 followers on Twitter doesn’t mean all of the 100,000 followers will see your tweet. The average number of people who will see what you tweet ranges between 5 and 15% only. This is due to the way people use the social network. Most people log in and follow what is happening now, and then a few hours later, they get lost in the timeline.
On the other hand, Facebook
organizes the timeline and doesn’t show followers everything that
you post on your page, but rather what interests them.
Consequently, it indirectly forces companies to pay to launch
targeted marketing campaigns to ensure their message is being
My advice is that you don’t really have to deliver your message to hundreds of thousands of people. It’s enough that it reaches a certain segment of the people interested in it for you to achieve your desired goal.