How Middle East startups can win on social

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Lama Abdelbarr leads on digital communications for Middle East & Africa at Talkwalker, a social media analytics platform uses AI-powered technology to monitor and analyse online conversations in real-time across social networks

The startup scene in the Middle East & North Africa (Mena) region is growing rapidly as more and more talented and innovative players come to the forefront. This has led to an increasingly competitive market that is challenging startups to consistently stay ahead of the curve in order to thrive.

An effective way for startups to thrive is through growth hacking - smart, self-propelling tactics used in marketing to grow a business without massive marketing resources. This is achieved mainly through technology and metrics, relying heavily on social media as a platform to grow quickly with limited resources.

Keeping tabs on the latest social media trends is one way to stay ahead of the curve. To make the most of these trends, a social media monitoring and analytics tool is invaluable to measure progress and results accurately in real time.

To help startups embark on their journey to win on social, we’ve put together some key guidelines:

  • Be clear on your brand promise and unique selling points (USPs) - these should form the underlying messages of all your social communications
  • Set a concrete goal – nowadays, there is no debate around whether or not your brand should have a social presence. The question is – what will you use your social platforms for? To increase website traffic? To generate new leads? Or to nurture an existing customer base? You need to hone in on your main goal and keep it right, front, and center.
  • Understand your channels – not all social media channels are born equal! Peak engagement times on Twitter, may be different to those on Facebook in your target country. Do your research and customise your approach to each channel.
  • Understand your customers - dig deep into your audience to understand where they’re coming from and how they engage with content. Whether your audience is on digital or traditional channels, you need to have insights into their profiles and public conversations to cater to their interests.
  • Now engage them and treat them right – the social media, sales, and support representatives/teams should work closely on optimizing customer engagement online. It can be a great idea for sales to engage with their prospects' and customers’ online posts to build relationships and credibility while staying top of mind.

When it comes to customer support, don’t fall into the trap of using automated customer support messages that don’t directly address customers’ pain points and actually end up aggravating a disgruntled customer even more. Instead, ensure that your dedicated customer support employee(s) are in tune with your customers’ needs and offer informative replies. Using a social media monitoring tool, you can ensure your customers’ complaints are being addressed in a timely manner and that any wider conversations around topics that involve or interest your brand are being monitored as well.

  • Add value - brands that constantly sell their offerings online are not likely to succeed in growing and retaining their following base. You should aim to offer your audience interesting and useful content that can differentiate you from other players in the market. Think about this saying: “create content that wouldn’t make sense if it came from your competition.”
  • Hashtag – creative hashtags can do wonders for a campaign. They are cross-platform, multi-purpose, and a great way to get individuals and companies to jump on the bandwagon. The key thing here is to ensure you are tracking and analysing your hashtags using a hashtag tracking tool. 
  • Analyse, analyse, analyse – social content doesn’t start and end with creativity. Keep a very close eye on your figures as you embark on the journey of finding out what works and what doesn’t work for you. Data analytics should lie at the core of all decisions taken to optimise your brand performance. Analyse your top performing posts to find great insights about the format, language, image, voice, and timings that work best for you and your audience.
  • Know your competition -   be really conscious of burying your head in the sand by only focusing on your own digital footprint. Competitive analysis is instrumental to understanding your industry and boosting your brand impact.
  • Future-proof - technology is constantly evolving and businesses - especially startups - need to keep up and evolve if they want to stand out. This can even apply to the way your measure your brand impact. For instance, advanced image and video recognition technology can help brands capture mentions of their logo – even if the brand name is not written in the caption. That’s 250 per cent more results than traditional brand monitoring. Technology like that can be key to future-proof your brand in a rapidly-evolving world.
  • Stay agile - stay on top of trends and react to them in a clever and measured manner that’s in line with your brand’s targeted conversation pillars.  As social media channels continue to add new features and updates to their offerings, you need to showcase your innovation by staying on top of these updates. Instagram, in particular, is a great channel for a small brand, as the platform favors basic interaction and story-telling. With a solid Instagram marketing strategy, small brands can create a huge impact. Check out this ultimate Instagram marketing strategy checklist that can help align and empower your team to optimise their strategy.



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