Problems with the PR payday

An ever-present issue for PR agencies, Ben Kershaw, Client Services Director at Katch International discusses the problems faced when clients try to escape paying their fees, the lessons learnt in the process and the precautionary measures that should be taken…

People, regardless of their position and company status will often try to take advantage in this industry

Whether you’re a multinational or a boutique agency, the issue of clients trying to escape their financial obligation to you is something we have likely all experienced. In Dubai, this pressing issue is magnified as a result of its fast-paced nature and the ever-changing landscape of company circumstance. Often, chasing payments can consume almost as much time as executing the project the agency was initially recruited for.

When representing a very large client upholding, an agency might not only oversee the client’s presence in a specific country but across other continents, and look after not just their PR, but also their events production and design. This means dealing with suppliers to produce almost all of their collaterals, from business cards to press walls. Suppliers will always require a certain percentage upfront, which can create large cash flow issues when it comes to some of the huge scale events. Sometimes clients follow payment terms, but at times, due to the urgency of the job, suppliers rely on strong business relationships with the agency to proceed without down payment. If, after not being paid a retainer fee, a client’s financial team also refuses to pay suppliers due to lack of a paper trail, this then has potential to completely damage rapport with said suppliers, forcing an agency’s hand to look for new ones to service other deliverables for paid clients until all outstanding payments have been settled.

It’s also important to realise that a previous relationship or friendship with a client will not equate to having the same pleasantries in business; if a personal relationship takes a professional turn, it is easy as an agency to leave yourself vulnerable by easing up on standard protocol and even easier to get caught up in the moment of a great potential campaign. But, when it comes to money, financial teams can be ruthless, often not understanding the customer-facing and sales elements of their business that agencies are trying to support. The personal relationship you have with the client won’t guarantee that they will be able to reciprocate in the same professional manner when it comes to a contracted arrangement. When this occurs, it’s the agency that loses out.

Sadly, these occasions are more frequent than not in recent times. Other than taking legal action – which aside from being against the ethos of many companies is neither time nor cost effective – it then unfortunately translates to swallowing the cost, picking up the pieces and walking away; in contrast to the UK where this matter could be addressed in a small claims court or dealt with through mediation, which would see closure on the case.

People, regardless of their position and company status will often try to take advantage in this industry. Clients are always going to have an ‘off month.’ As an agency, this is something we are all too familiar with. So as a rule, the first service to be cut and the last cheque to be signed is marketing. In a bid to protect us as an agency, Katch’s contracts stipulate both UK and UAE laws. In addition, we have taken steps to allow our clients flexible payment options set out from the beginning in the payment plan.

Extra measures such as adding a clause on intellectual property rights being yours until the contract has been honored are other steps we have initiated. We’ve also made it clear with our suppliers and clients that all third-party agreements must be adhered to or a job will not be delivered.

In this country, reputation is everything and word does spread if certain clients are known to avoid payment. At the end of the day, all we agencies can do is protect ourselves.

Ben Kershaw is the Client Services Director at Katch PR.

Ethics in social media advertising – or lack thereof

Alex Malouf, Chair, Professional Development & Knowledge Sharing Committee at MEPRA, offers his thoughts on the lack of social media advertising ethics – and questions whether brands in the region are risking its reputations and consumer trust for short-term financial gains?

While European and American consumers are benefiting from crystal clear regulations on sponsored social media content, there’s little to no clarity here on the same

We’re awash with social media in our region. Everywhere you go, you’ll see people sliding their fingers left and right, pushing up and pulling down on their smartphone screens. We’re all at it, checking our Instagram accounts, refreshing our Twitter feeds, and posting Facebook updates.

Today we have social media celebrities, people who have become famous through their online activities. There are Instagrammers in Kuwait with over a million followers, Facebookers in the UAE with hundreds of thousands of likes, and Saudi Tweeters with followings equal to the population of Bahrain.

Alongside these social media celebrities we have witnessed the rise of paid posts. Those of you with a keen eye will have noticed how many celebrities online have become more commercial, and have begun to share updates, images and videos promoting brands.

There’s nothing wrong with promotional advertising. Using paid influencer marketing is a common tactic to spread awareness, promote a brand, and to engage social media users across the globe. Online advertising can be more cost effective in terms of measurement and reach.

However, there’s no distinction between an advert and paid-for content. Both involve a payment of some kind by a company for a promotion of its brand or services. Regulators across Europe and the United States have essentially ruled that if money is changing hands, obvious disclosure must occur in-ad. Their reasoning is simple; consumers have a right to know what is an advert and what is not an advert.

While European and American consumers are benefiting from crystal clear regulations on sponsored social media content, there’s little to no clarity here on the same. Consumers here have no authority to turn to or no regulations to guide them on what is and what isn’t sponsored.

There seems to be little eagerness for brands or social media celebrities to advertise what is paid-for content either. This is understandable, as their followers may be less inclined to engage with a post if they know it is sponsored, or even follow a person who they know accepts money for posts.

While this lack of disclosure may appeal in the short term and help to maximise revenues (paid-for posts in Kuwait can fetch up to three thousand dollars per posting), it does nothing to building goodwill and trust with consumers across the region. A lack of honesty and transparency on what social media celebrities are paid to post will negatively affect trust in both the sponsoring brand as well as the celebrity who is accepting the payment in return for sharing the content.

In the US the burden is on brands to ensure that their endorsers, such as bloggers and online influencers) are in compliance in terms of disclosure. Paid-for posts have to include language such as #Ad, Ad: or Sponsored. Even brand posts and shares by a company’s employees have to be clearly labeled to account for the bias.

Either brands can take action and begin to self-regulate, or they can wait for regulators to finally step in and possibly take a harder-line approach to sponsored influencer endorsements. Is risking a reputation and trust, built up over years of marketing, worth risking over a lack of disclosure? I hope the answer is no.


Shouldn’t I be paid for this?

Wondering how you can start monetising your online video content? Margaret Davies, Global Vice President of Global Media Account Management at Brightcove discusses what you’ve always wanted to know but have been too shy to ask…

With the combination of great content, the right platform and an interested and engaged audience, it’s more than possible to start making more bang for your buck when it comes to your online videos

Increasingly, businesses, marketing and traditional media professionals in the Middle East are looking at how video can help connect them with their target audience more effectively, and there are several factors that are coming together to influence this change. According to a survey by Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government (MBRSG), more than 135 million individuals are using the Internet in 22 Arab countries. Most interestingly, 49% of MBRSG respondents watch video clips at least once a day

In other studies, over 60 million young people (15-24 yrs) are going to transition to adulthood in the MENA, according to AMO, and 70% of these entrants are skipping the print versions of media and becoming digital-only consumers, says Strategy&.

In such a rapidly changing reality, traditional communication has to evolve through investing and building strong cross-platform assets – video being the obvious choice due to its impact as well as ability to adapt to traditional and online platforms. But, as this trend continues to grow, it’s important to understand that video not only increases engagement, but supports profitability.

We understand that the idea of monetising content sounds daunting; it’s like the awkward question when you’re out for dinner – who picks up the tab – but rest assured that it’s more straightforward than you would think. Here we’ll discuss three business models where each one works in a different, yet effective way.

Firstly, ad funded video uses payment from advertisers as revenue and often requires no payment from viewers. One of the easier monetisation models to set up; the hard work is attracting advertisers to your content.  What’s the best approach? Advertisers want to find videos that complement the brands that they represent and are more attracted to high quality, professional videos.

Another way to make money from online video is to simply charge people for it, better known as video on demand (VOD).  There are two main forms of paid online video – SVOD (Subscription Video on Demand) and TVOD (Transactional Video on Demand). While VOD is most often associated with entertainment, with high production values such as movies and TV shows, it’s possible to generate revenue by charging people for very specific niche content – for example, you can charge for instructional videos, highly localized news content or business analysis by an expert in the field.  How do you get the most out of VOD?  Make sure you have content that keeps customers coming back for more, either in the form of a video library or recommendations based on previously viewed content.

Finally, there is authenticated viewing. This is the ability to view content on your TV, tablet and smartphones, with all the devices accessing the same content as and when required.  Although it doesn’t always generate a direct stream of revenue, authenticated viewing can be a great value-add for your existing customers to enhance viewing experience. If done well with the right player experience across each device and user friendly log in procedures, authenticated viewing can increase loyalty from your existing customer base and entice new customers.

The growing presence of online video highlights how important this medium is to consumers and customers. With the combination of great content, the right platform and an interested and engaged audience, it’s more than possible to start making more bang for your buck when it comes to your online videos.


Reputation over desperation

While it may be true that an agencies brand is discussed far less than the clients it handles, Allie Holmes, Director at Edelman Dubai, offers her expert opinion on why it is vital for agencies to be aware of their brand reputation and be selective when it comes to representing clients…

Publicity may be what we sell, but that publicity is steeped in relationships, and relationships are built on trust – trust with your employees, trust with clients and trust with the press

Last year, our agency was approached by a public figure about to go through a public criminal trial. Would we manage press and public opinion for the client, the representative asked? No agency is ever in a place to turn down a sure thing, but in this case, there was no debate; the answer had to be no. Not because there wasn’t money to be made, but whether or not the client won or lost in the court system – as an agency, we only stood to lose in the court of public opinion.

Publicity may be what we sell, but that publicity is steeped in relationships, and relationships are built on trust – trust with your employees, trust with clients and trust with the press.

With this in mind, why is it so important that we separate ourselves from clients who are behaving in a way that doesn’t align with our values, or refuse to take them on as clients in the first place?

Because we owe it to our people
As an individual, working for an agency, you should not have to compromise your morals to do your job.

As ‘communicators for hire’, you get the opportunity to work with the very best industries and corporations on offer, the initiatives they want to talk about, the causes they want to support.

Being agency-side allows us to pick and choose those behaviors and mindsets and even industries we will promote and those we won’t. For example, Edelman doesn’t work for the tobacco industry. I find this freedom to decide admirable. It’s one of the reasons I’ve stayed agency-side.

Because we owe it to our clients
If as a client, you’re being represented by an agency that has a reputation for working with clients of questionable morality, you could feel the blowback of guilt by association when things go sour. For many of our clients, ours are the “faces” of the corporation in the pressroom, and we have to protect that.

Finally, because we owe it to our industry
It’s no secret that the field of PR has a significant PR problem. PR flacks are often seen right up there with defense attorneys and politicians. Bad decisions made by one, do impact the whole. We, of all people, should know that best.

Taking on clients who act unethically impacts the trust others place in our agencies – internally with our teams, externally with our media contacts and ultimately with our current and potential clients. Taking on clients (or retaining clients) that impact others’ ability to trust may provide short-term gains, but in the long-term, there are worse things to lose than revenue – when our organisational trust is on the line. When it comes to reputation, we should remember that not all business is good business.


Make my logo bigger!

Steve Cornish, Managing Partner at Ruleof3, sheds light on the trials and tribulations of clients who fixate on the size of their brand logo and offers tips on why it’s necessary to be strategic…

White space is our friend. Just because you’re paying for a page in a magazine, it doesn’t mean you should use every single square millimetre

If I had a dirham for every time a client asked us to ‘make my logo bigger’…

Unfortunately, it is a well known comment in the design industry – it seems no matter what size a client’s logo is, they will always want it BIGGER. Of course they want their brand to stand out, be memorable, and a bigger logo will achieve this right? No.

When we disagree, we are not trying to be difficult. By all means, we’ll make your logo bigger, but the design needs to be effective and achieve the objectives set by the brief. Even small changes can often bring up other problems that will need to be solved within a design to make it work, so it really isn’t as simple as just making the logo BIGGER. Here are a few points to consider before asking ‘THAT question’ and becoming another one of ‘those’ clients:

1. Visual balance
A designer is always on the quest for balance, originality and that ‘cool factor’. Often, designs have been poured over with the size of different elements tested in many ways. Humans are naturally drawn to symmetry and balance, so making an element on the page larger or smaller may throw this out, resulting in the design being less pleasing on the eye and your message less effective.

2. Design hierarchy
Why is the term ‘hierarchy’ in a design so important? Essentially, our eyes move around a design and settle on the elements that are given visual prominence. If too many elements – such as a really large logo – are too big, the viewer may dwell on the wrong information or become overloaded and ignore the communication piece completely. We generally have a very short period of time to communicate our message so directing the eyes to maximise the message is one of the best ways to communicate this.

3. The logo is NOT the message
It is rarely the objective of a brief to make the logo the message. Even in brand building projects, the logo is part of an overall look and feel. The logo should support the visual language of the brand, remembering that it is not the only element of your visual brand that communicates with your audience. The imagery, tone-of-voice, colours and typography all come together to create the visual familiarity that should be generated by your brand. These elements need to be consistent and clear, shouting ‘this is who we are’ to create brand familiarity in a way that’s far more effective than a bigger logo.

4. White space
Repeat after me – white space is our friend. Just because you’re paying for a page in a magazine, it doesn’t mean you should use every single square millimetre. White space is important in enhancing your message. White space is the equivalent of a deep breath – it clears the page, allows the viewer to relax and ultimately be more open to your message. White space especially around your logo will give it more visual prominence, rather than just making it bigger.

We are constantly bombarded with over 5,000 images and messages per day, so how is making your logo bigger going to cut through all of this noise? While it may seem like a simple request to ‘make my logo bigger’, it is something that needs to be far more carefully considered to ensure the balance of the design. At the end of the day, a communication piece needs to enter into the memory of the viewer and persuade them to act.


Promoting the PR-journo relationship – tips from a journalist

Establishing longstanding relationships with the varying branches of the media industry are a necessity that everyone is familiar – and at times – frustrated with. Fida Chaaban, Editor-in-Chief, Entrepreneur Middle East offers tips on how PR’s can be successful with this in the journalist arena…

I know that clients badger you relentlessly, and that you’re treading a minefield of harried journos, but investing time in long-term relationships with likeminded members of the press really is mutually beneficial

We know, that you know, that we know, that #UAEPR people get the short end of the stick. You’re navigating a minefield of unpredictable journos, over caffeinated-clients, and a boss who is asking for deliverables… like blanket coverage that your retainer clients often demand. As one of those aforementioned “unpredictable” journos who receives between 200 to 400 emails on a daily basis (the majority of which are press releases), here are a few things that will get me (and possibly other fickle journalists) to give your outreach efforts precedence:

1)  Do send me something that you aren’t sending everyone else. I can tell the difference between a pitch tailored for Entrepreneur ME, and a pitch that just replaced the names of the media outlet and editor. To properly tailor a pitch, you probably have to read the magazine and understand our “voice”. I know this is no mean feat, and that you can’t prioritise one outlet over another, but it may result in me collaborating with you on a really comprehensive feature with strong, solid coverage rather than just garnering your client a vague mention. If that’s worth it to you, then craft an angle that works for my publication. It will take you a lot more time and effort, so the cost/benefit analysis here is your call.

2) Don’t flood me with “reminders”. I know that you are tired of press not responding to your emails, pitches, and invitations. I can’t speak for all journalists of course, but I do read all of my emails, and it takes up a huge part of my day, every single day. I do flag interesting pitches (as discussed above) – it’s quite possible that I won’t get in touch for a month or even two, but if it’s a good angle I will eventually explore it in one way or another. I do mentally note which agencies and PR people are making an effort to establish a lasting relationship instead of mass spam one-offs. Sending me three follow-up emails two days after you’ve sent a press release suggests to me that you think I have no other work to do.  Please don’t flood me, I promise I’m paying attention (even if you don’t think I am).

3) Do communicate with me via social media. There are a few noteworthy UAE PR people who have interacted with Entrepreneur ME and our staff on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I’m a very detail-oriented person who notices when people make a genuine effort to share our material- especially when that material has nothing to do with their clients and pitches. I appreciate your efforts to join our online community and your efforts to facilitate my medium’s growth – it makes me feel that you value our work. It also indicates to me that you don’t just see our publication (that I work very hard to produce) as a mere vehicle to convey your client news. A good PR-Journo relationship starts with a good conversation, and social media is the best way to initiate a dialogue with me.

I know that clients badger you relentlessly, and that you’re treading a minefield of harried journos, but investing time in long-term relationships with likeminded members of the press really is mutually beneficial. PR people who I have worked with successfully in the past are the first people that I contacted when I launched Entrepreneur in Dubai. I made a sincere effort to find a way to support their clients, simply because these PR people have proven invaluable to me in the past in terms of good information, creative angles and fruitful introductions.

I hope that you haven’t received a snappish-sounding email from me, and if you have, the points I mentioned can help transition what was a bad start into a good mutually-rewarding collaboration. See you on the web!


Fida Chabban is Editor-in-Chief of Entrepreneur ME. Follow her on

The tender touch

Rob Nicholas, Managing Director of NPI, offers his thoughts on project tenders in the media space…

In a business world increasingly dominated by procurement managers, words such as ‘partnership’ and ‘value’ are being replaced by words like ‘supplier’ and ‘cost’

Let’s face it, we all want value. But, at the same time, we also want to be valued. And there is a not-so-subtle difference, especially in the sphere of knowledge-based projects.

Recently, we wished to partner with a digital marketing consultancy, so we met with a few. From those meetings we were able to separate the professionals from the pretenders and find the most suitable company. Our final selection wasn’t the cheapest, but we valued them the most.

The fact is that we adopted this approach naturally. It is within our culture to partner with the best people and the best companies. That is how we achieve. But is it a common approach?

In a business world increasingly dominated by procurement managers, words such as ‘partnership’ and ‘value’ are being replaced by words like ‘supplier’ and ‘cost’. I can understand it when we are talking about material supply – stationary, bricks, mortar – where costs can be compared on a like-for-like basis and service is barely a factor, but not when it comes to the demonstration of knowledge, expertise and creativity.

Let’s compare the creation of successful media to building, as this is an industry where tendering is part and parcel of awarding every job. Except – hang on for a moment – we have missed an important step. The build can only come after the design.

IM Pei didn’t design the Louvre based on submitting the lowest cost and 20 different options to the client upfront. There was recognition that he and his company had the skills, experience and knowhow to spend time understanding the client’s objectives, collaboratively establish a vision, design a plan and turn the project into reality.

The successful development of media also requires an architectural plan. It must be very clear who it is being designed for, or in our case, who the audience is (the client and/or readers and advertisers), to ensure that it will be attractive to them when completed. Then a team of professionals needs to build from that vision.

All too often we are invited to participate in a tender where the architecture is defined. The client is simply seeking a supplier to build. However, in many cases it is apparent that the strategy will not serve the client’s stated objectives or appeal to its desired audiences. To proceed on this basis would mean having to revisit strategy further down the line when it is often too late; like building an apartment block but then deciding it should be an office tower after residents have already settled in.

What’s more, many of these tenders require self-financing, requiring the media house to assume P&L responsibility. The rationale is that a client’s name/brand is considered enticing enough to attract support. This is the equity they bring to the table, along with additional requirements which may serve their objectives, but can also stifle potential returns from advertising audiences and add to the cost of delivery.

At NPI, we don’t subscribe to this view. Our brand, consultancy and expertise has a value and is most effective when it is put in place to shape a project from inception through to completion. That way, all stakeholders can be confident in the approach, understand the full scope of responsibilities and then commit to its successful delivery.

If a client doesn’t recognise the value of strategic input and is not prepared to invest, a partnership will always be impossible to achieve. Without a partnership, there will never be true success, leaving all parties frustrated.

Pitching should be about presenting your credentials and demonstrating why a client should work with you. Track record, accomplishments and insight into the potential project should be sufficient to achieve this, presented face to face where parties can get to know each other.

In the past, we have participated in tenders and were compelled to rewrite the architecture, even if it wasn’t part of the brief, then quote on its delivery. We felt that it would show our value and, in many instances, we were right. However, in others we were deemed too expensive or our presence was merely to assist negotiation with current incumbents.

So, although materials and labour can be compared on a like-for-like for basis, knowledge-based projects need a partner who can help shape the questions and suggest the solutions rather than answer a prescription designed to set a level playing field.

Successful development of media requires consultation, and quality will always have a price. It’s the value that counts.


Rob Nicholas is Managing Director of NPI. Connect with Rob on LinkedIn


The effectiveness of event marketing

Keith Austin, Chief Executive at Event Marketing Solutions, outlines the benefits of investing in event marketing and why it is becoming a necessity for increased awareness and growth…

The option to step on board a private showroom gives the brands better control of the event experience, with no distractions or interruptions, and is a huge benefit to the Middle East market

The popularity of roadshows and live events has been steadily increasing, and the benefits for brands are easy to see. In the Event Marketing Institute’s third annual EventTrack study – which tracked the opinions of brand marketers, agencies and consumers of more than 600 companies – the results showed that 93 percent of consumers said live events reach them more effectively than television advertising; 89 percent feel that a live event gives them a better understanding of a brand’s product or service than a television, radio, print or online banner ad, and 96 percent believe they are more inclined to purchase after a live event.

Think of a roadshow truck as a stand on wheels, giving the power back to the brands. The real benefit of being mobile is that you can take advantage of all the opportunities at trade shows and events, and offer your audience complete convenience by continuing your service beyond the trade show. The option to step on board a private showroom gives the brands better control of the event experience, with no distractions or interruptions, and is a huge benefit to the Middle East market.

International B2B businesses have been quick to embrace the concept and initiate tours that enable them to target their customers on their doorstep. More recently, B2C brands in the region have also embraced the trend, looking to replicate the success experienced by B2B brands with their consumer campaigns. They are opting for bespoke touring spaces that enable them to create mobile showrooms, VIP entertainment hubs, and hospitality and sponsorship spaces.

It’s also proving to be an efficient tool for businesses that need to communicate, train and motivate large workforces as it’s a highly efficient way to engage consistently with your people when time is precious and spread over wide geographical areas. This is also true for government departments in the region needing to get their message out to consumers near where they work, live and relax. These internal communications solutions can be applied to any industry sector and across a wide variety of brands.

We have delivered several successful campaigns across the GCC over the last five years, and know that there is huge potential in the region. With the announcement of Expo 2020, the brilliant infrastructure available and the geography of the region, the demand from global customers in Dubai is only set to increase further, and investing in event marketing will bring positive results to any industry sector.


Keith Austin is Chief Executive at Event Marketing Solutions. Follow him on Twitter @eventms

The importance of a professional online image

Oliver Doran, Managing Director and Photographer at, offers his thoughts on why the significance of a professional portrait picture has never been greater…

First impressions are critical in the digital age; consumer and recruitment choices can be made in seconds based on your image

When I meet a client for a consultation, we talk about personality images and the various destination(s) of the final images – what emotion do you want to convey, and where is it going to be placed? Every profession is different, but on a basic level, ‘professional looking’ is a must. A creative person might want to project a more ‘fun and energetic’ image, whereas a business owner may want something more ‘confident and approachable’ – the simple fact remains that a professional photographer will be able to achieve whatever you like while maintaining a corporate edge. When taking company headshots for a team, the art is to reflect individual personality combined with a sense of consistency and brand identity for all staff members. Consistency is key.

Investing in professional imaging counts. First impressions are critical in the digital age; consumer and recruitment choices can be made in seconds based on your image – be it from Linkedin, the company website, company documentation or other social media. So you must question whether a photo from your personal social media accounts (eg. Facebook) is appropriate when putting together a professional online profile, even if it appears suitable to you.

If you care about your own brand appearance, the logical conclusion is you must care about what you do for a living. Both consumers and employers want to put a face to a name and are very likely to make decisions accordingly, as it’s the first step to building a new relationship. Headshots humanise a pitch and initiate a human connection, and the right image is the starting point for the reader to ‘carry on reading’. After all, in a market place, people buy from people, sell to people and employ people.

From a technical point of view there are two types of portraits – the straight headshot and environmental portrait. Environmental portraits include your work environment within the photo, and the headshot is purely head and shoulders photographed in a studio environment with a simple white, or grey background. Both have their advantages. The choice of different lighting techniques and posing are massively important in reflecting different messages and making flattering, professional photos.

The photography you use is synonymous to your individual image as well as your company’s image, and is a marketing investment that will represent your level of professionalism. A brand needs a well-designed logo, and the human face of a company also needs the same image strength. A serious company would never consider delegating the logo design to anyone other than a graphic artist, and in my opinion, it’s less detrimental to have no photo than a poorly taken one.

Don’t let your first impression be your last!


Oliver Doran is Managing Director and Photographer at Follow him on Twitter @Photosol or visit

Top tips for a great social media campaign

Social media has become a must-have business tool for professionals and companies alike. Here Faheem Gill offers tips on how to make the most of your social media campaign…

With such a connected audience, developing social media campaigns that capture the attention is essential

Social Media a must for any company that wants to be successful. The UAE has the highest penetration of smartphones in the world (72%), not to mention that 52% of UAE residents visit social media sites daily. With such a connected audience, developing social media campaigns that capture the attention is essential.

Facebook is now limiting organic reach to roughly 2% of followers of pages, which is forcing most companies to begin looking at other social media channels. With social media users in the UAE embracing these new social channels, it is worth reviewing your social media strategy. Here’s five top tips to help you stay on track:

1. Start with your goals
The goals of a social media campaign must be defined first. Whether it is just getting more followers, or increasing engagement, the goal of the campaign must be measurable. In addition to having clear targets, you must have a good analytics package to measure this. With most social media channels you can either use third party tools or develop a custom tool to measure the key performance indicators that you and the client have agreed upon.

In addition to having the goals in place, you should also:

  • Ensure the client has a social media policy, and how does the campaign fit the policy
  • Define the key customer including their interests, demographics and psychographics
  • Be within the confines of the cultural and legal framework of the region

While you are getting ready to run your client’s campaign, a value added service you can provide to your client is to measure how their competitor is doing during the same time. Tools such as Moz Analytics gives you a good way to gain some insight into your client and their competitors and gives you a granular look at the competitive landscape.

2. Be active
With a plethora of social media channels out there, you have to be active on the ones that are important for the campaign. For example, a B2B may be more inclined to be on LinkedIn whereas a B2C in the home and garden space would be a better fit for Pinterest. Being active on the right channels at the right time is key. One tidbit we have found out is that more negative viral events occur during holidays and weekends than the weekdays. A good rule of thumb is to be active three times a day with three different touch points to the target customer.

3. Entertain through images
Visual graphics and videos are easier to share and have to be part of the mixture. From videos to images and infographics, there are numerous options that can fit your campaign. In general campaigns should have a good mixture of visuals to content. You can easily newsjack trending topics with images that fit your campaign’s goals.

4. Quality over quantity
Campaigns must meet the right balance of hitting the touch points without becoming spammy. Often there is too much content being distributed without any feedback. Engagement with your target customer is key and some try a ‘throw everything’ approach. The top three most visited sites in the UAE are Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  Having your campaigns on these sites will be enough for most campaigns. Just don’t overuse the #hashtags (3 maximum).

5. Measure and report
We started with the goals of the client and we end with it as well. The way to keep your clients satisfied comes from the data that shows how social media is helping them with their goals. Tools such as Buddy Media, Brandwatch, Social Sprout and many more can help you capture the data you need and keep your clients happy.


Faheem Gill is Managing Director, Asia Operations at Xelleration. Follow him on Twitter @ims43