The perks of good Facebook branding in the Middle East

Facebook marketing can bring considerable benefits to ME organisations, if they understand some basic principles

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The perks of good Facebook branding in the Middle East Businesses can benefit greatly from careful Facebook marketing, says Johnson.
By  Stan Johnson Published  November 6, 2012

The Middle East is a diverse region, and while many of the countries share much in common, such as economic structure, each individual area carries its own identity and stands out as historic and unique in its own right. Collectively, however, this region could easily make or break a business's brand.

Take marketing a business on Facebook for example. Since Facebook just reached one billion users, one seventh of the world's population, many businesses do attempt to bolster their brands by using this social media giant. Although Facebook isn't a prevalent part of every Middle East country's online world, there are still many countries where Facebook is not only accepted but embraced and promoted. But few approach Facebook branding in the Middle East correctly.

There are many benefits to proper Facebook branding. But before we delve into that, take a look at why you should be attempting to brand in the region.

In 2010, it was estimated that the Middle East had roughly 15 million Facebook users. By 2011, that number had shot up to well over 56 million (the latter including North Africa and the Greater ME), according to analyses performed by the MENA Facebook Digest. To date, the Middle East comprises approximately 10% of all Facebook users. This is a huge number. And this is undoubtedly why any legitimate business looking to increase its brand awareness should focus on local Facebook fans and customers.

Social media in the Middle East has helped to give rise to various freedom-based movements in Egypt, Qatar, Syria, and other locations. The numbers of new users, per country and per reaction and per growth rate yearly, suggests that Facebook is becoming a big player in the culture.

Egypt tops the list with around 5.7 million users, with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan following behind at 3.5 and 3.9 million respectively. Morocco has over 3 million users, with Algeria and Tunisia floating around the 2 million mark. Jordan and Israel have millions of users as well, and even Iraq, Kuwait and Azerbaijan are pushing close to the 1 million mark.

What Good Facebook Branding Gets You

An Enthusiastic Base

Since Facebook is still relatively new to most of the Middle East, the base is very enthusiastic and eager to start updating and browsing the way the rest of the world does. This is going to equate to high CTR numbers and extremely high brand recognition throughout the region and throughout your niche.

Increased Recognition

As mentioned above, the recognition of a brand is going to increase exponentially through the use of proper marketing to a Middle Eastern audience. Different niches-some of which are yet to be created-are untapped and unsullied. A brand at the forefront of a market movement is the most-respected by default.

Larger Market Share

The ‘how' in marketing to the Middle East might be of great concern to you. But rest assured that there's no magic formula here. You market to this region the same way you would market to any other foreign region, by using the right Facebook ads and management software to create the correct campaigns. When branding correctly, you'll pick up a much larger market share per your respective niche. Remember: Facebook is up-trending; it's just now on the rise there.

Respecting the Cultural Differences: Things to Remember when Marketing

Remembering the Religious Values:

The majority of the population in the Middle East is Muslim, so respecting Islamic religious and cultural values is extremely important when branding a business. Material that could be considered anti-Islamic or even too risqué for the culture is going to result in a snowball effect which harms your brand exponentially. It should go without saying, but just in case you're asleep at the wheel, make sure to show respect when targeting a Middle East customer base.

Marketing to Males:

According to various statistics, 62.8% of Facebook users are male and over half of all MENA Facebook users are between 18-24. So, basically, whether you're located in the Middle East or outside of the region, you're marketing your brand to young men. Of course, you still want to remain country-specific (more on that below).

Understanding Browsing Habits:

Although there are many Middle Eastern users browsing in English, roughly 17% of the MENA base browses Facebook in Arabic. The point being that the Arabic-speaking audience (or any other language) might not be a subset you want to exclude from your branding approach.

With the right management tool to create Facebook ads, you can easily split campaigns and give the same ads out in different languages to target completely different markets.

Individual Countries:

Some outside of the Middle East might not realize just how many countries are located within this region, meaning that there are a wide array of cultures and languages. Kurdish, Hebrew, Greek, Persian, Turkish, Arabic, Urdu, French, and Aramiac are just a few of the languages spoken there. Focus on the particular country you're marketing to and learn about the nation's language, cultural differences, and other pertinent details. There are no one-size-fits-all branding principles. Think of the Middle East the same way you would think of Europe. You wouldn't market to the UK and Hungary the same way, so you wouldn't market to Oman and Tunisia the same way either.

If you've operated a Facebook marketing campaign before, then you already know how to go through the motions with ad-management software, honing in on your niche, selecting the right marketing approach, and following through with split testing and running analysis on your campaign.

The thing to focus on here is the different audience. Remember that marketing to the Middle East means you have to make a few more adjustments. All in all, it's well worth the effort.

Stan Johnson works as an editorial writer for Qwaya - a Facebook ad manager tool.

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