5 Ways to use Twitter for your Brand in the Middle East

Today's newspapers talked about how Saudis were asking for better pay on twitter. See this article in Gulf News Oct 8th. The hashtag is here and doing well in the Middle East. But how are brands using the power of twitter? Most brands we know usually do a lot of one way product-bragging rather than try and create a dialog. Here are five ways I've seen that brands here in this  region can follow and engage well on twitter...

1. Engage in a dialog. Try and have an exchange rather than just do brand/product shoutouts. Basically, you are looking for conversations and ways to connect to the people out there. That's a feeling of community, of following, not preaching product benefit. And, for a brand, twitter is a lot about customer service. The key word there is service. Service as an on-going and meaningful dialog with your customers.

2. Participate. There's a golden 80-20 rule that suggests that around 4 out of 5 of your tweets should be involvement with your followers, your 'community'. Which means you need to Retweet, re-post with comments and add value. It's the sharing and caring that shows value for those who follow you and those who you want to be followers. It also shows you are on topic  and on trend and are not me-me-me. Most twitter communities in the Middle East seem to like participation and replying. They like being heard. Also, look to leverage the 'sneezers' or viral influencers.

3. Provide Value. If you are pure selling product benefits and features, you are not really going to get much out of twitter engagement. Try and provide tips, useful information, useful links, re-shares of stuff that's relevant to your genre but not necessarily about your brand. Value is about knowledge, news, information. And for your brand or product the tease-and-reveal works well. Have special offers? Twitter is the place to put those out.

4. Write well. Twitter for brands is often about mastering the art of writing a 140 character headline. Grab the attention with a clear benefit and perhaps a call to attention. The link, the photo are like the rest of the ad. It's the first few attention grabbing words that matter. Craft those well. Remember 60% of active twitter users use their mobiles. Grab the attention quickly and succinctly.

5. Stay on trend, react quick, be relevant in the now. Twitter is all about the here and now, so you can't keep tweeting about your brand, for your brand or product while asleep at the wheel. Stay on trend. Be aware of what the conversations are about and see if there's a fit. Tweet on those.  This doesn't mean you try and hijack trending hashtags. And, no point on tweeting about hot trending global topics unless they mean something to you. Geo-fence your strategy. Your topics have to be in context and be current.  No one likes yesterdays news other than fish-and-chips shops.

Twitter as a platform have made a serious commitment to the regoin and you can ask for help if you want to leverage better. Lisa Szatsznajder is Twitter Account Manager for the GCC. No, I wasn't paid to write this post. You can ask her @LisaJSz 

Tom Roychoudhury is chief innovations officer at MCN (Middle East Communications Network), one of the largest advertising, marketing, media, PR and social agency groups in the region.

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