Monday, February 28, 2011

Is Facebook Slowing Down?

Facebook is taking over the web. Like buttons are populating the digital world, and there is barely any website you can visit where you cannot find a Facebook icon. True. Almost everyone I know has a Facebook profile by now, and I say “almost” because a few newborns still do not have a page dedicated to them. Great! What next?

Facebook's Fall

Over the last few years, Nielsen has published the Top 10 US Web Brands. When it comes to the average time spent on the site, here is what was featured; the average US user is spending on Facebook:

June 2009 -  4:39 hours/month
January 2010 - 7:01 hours/month

With a 9.7% growth, digital analysts were starting to think that Facebook was unstoppable and was still in for a long haul. In fact, online predictions still seem to share the same vision.

Yet, what’s happening today?

January 2011 – the average US user is spending 7:24:12  hours/ month on Facebook.

A mere 6.6% growth for Facebook, almost at par with Wikipedia’s 6.8% and Google’s 6.0% growth for average time spent. 

My Personal Feedback
I must add, I no longer enjoy this website:
  • Its walls are filled with compliments “thank you”s and “I miss you”s, and it stops at that, but nothing substantial.
  • Its Top News feed displays the posts with the most likes and comments, consequently, if you have a high number of likes, you can be sure that half your Facebook friends have seen this post, and guess what? If they haven’t “liked” it, chances are, they do not.
  • Not to mention that the algorithms tend to only show the people you have interacted with lately; thus, nothing new. Yes, it does get boring, seeing the same faces.
  • Finally, some of its new features are really annoying; like the black background for the pictures; CoolIris was interesting, but only as an added feature, thank you.
To put it boldly, Facebook is no longer as interesting. I predict a decrease in the time spent on the site by next year.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

#uniteLB for a #unitedLB

Trending on Twitter lately, are hashtags with many MENA countries, all "leading" their own revolutions/ reforms, or should I say "supporting"? Given the mayhem in the dictatorships and monarchies around, Lebanon, a democracy, was left out. For once, appearing serene and free from turmoil, for once, Lebanon was the safest in the region.  
...and then suddenly we were starting to identify opinion leaders in the region. Suddenly, we saw the power of the Twitter platform. Suddenly other media were quoting Twitter activity... and consequently people were interested in Twitter.
lebanon unites
Well, we have seen @Ghonim among others tweet for Egypt... What about Lebanon? who can lead a revolution here? Lebanon might be "quiet" lately, but this does not mean that it has gotten rid of its problems... and we all know, Lebanese like to take part in the action; so #uniteLB for a better Lebanon.
Well, it seems like we have our own thought leader in Lebanon, one, as famous as it gets to the online community, even if not as a tweep, @habibh simply being the founder of gives him enough authority. 
...So why the hashtag? No, we are not stupid enough to think that a tag can change the world. Yet media has its role to play, if it does not break systems, at least it builds hope and motivates people. What more does the media do anyway? ...and yet we refer to it as the "fourth branch of government".

Why Twitter Users Are Better Marketeers

Aside from being a great social media tool to gain up-to-date information in your industry, Twitter has many undisclosed utilities to marketing experts.
  • You can study the impact of a message, copywriters, this one is for you! Look at the twitter replies and traffic generated to links, study the top tweets - you can get a good idea on what triggers the public's interest; a good lesson on how to formulate your slogans. 

twitter marketer
  • You know the reach of every user, you can study his impact as well. Use tools like klout. Who is a thought leader, and why? If you can identify them online, it would be easier to identify them in the real world.
  • You can measure the frequency of every tweet, and how long it takes to generate an action... and this to me, is the most important point. We all get dragged by following trending hashtags and discussions, we all end up clicking that link that keeps getting retweeted. The question is, what frequency does it take?
I would say all three factors play a role. It takes a credible source (tweep), an intriguing tweet, and a certain frequency to incite people for action

All eyes on Twitter, watch and learn!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lebanese Online Marketing Strategies

Dear Lebanese, 

 Online marketing is a genuine and inherent part of the marketing strategy. It can be easily measured and help assess the marketing return on investment.

What Lebanese Brands Are Doing
  • Jump into digital marketing blindfolded. 
  • Set up their website, supposedly for marketing purposes, with basic information and beautiful graphics. 
  • They create a Facebook group, upload their logo.
  •  ...and there. Forgotten.
Why It Does Not Work
Why do you want a website in the first place? Is it just to refer your stakeholders for more information? Then you are fine with anything I suppose, right? Wrong. Had you been aware of the powers of the internet, you would change your mind.

Your website could generate traffic, and new customers. Interested? Thought so. Yet you have already created a website with a language that cannot be optimized for search engines. Why? Because you jumped into it without setting a marketing vision. Any regrets now?

...And your Facebook group? You might want to visit from time to time and read the client feedbacks. PS. Spamming your members with messages is the perfect way to lose them. Am I already too late to say this? Congrats, you have ruined your chances with this medium.

Oh and what about other online mediums? ...Ever considered?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Marketing Under Turmoil - A Study Based on Lebanon

Marketing under tough security conditions - such was my master's final dissertation - and what better place than Lebanon to study this?
 Lebanon was a top economic performer in 2008; it was even said to be "immune" to the global financial crisis. Analysts relate this “immunity” to its past experience with security turmoil.  Economic and political unrest have identical effect on marketing operations; they translate into budget cuts.
My study estimates the marketing effectiveness of companies operating in Lebanon under different stages: Level 1, environmental stability, Level 2, environmental instability (constant explosion threats) and Level 3, high environmental instability (war). ***

  • Marketing investment is most often cut down under security turmoil conditions; as demonstrated by the market analysis of the Lebanese media scene. 
  • There's a possibility to turn crisis into opportunity through successful marketing campaigns conducted during periods of unrest.
  • The study derives a relatively more inelastic approach to turmoil for commodity products as opposed to luxury goods.  
    There's a different economic response to different levels of turmoil. 

    Under security stability (Level 1):
    marketing under turmoil
    • In the situation where explosions abound (level 2): the marketing budget cuts and sales figures drop are minimal yet spread over a long period of time.

    marketing under turmoil

    • Under war (level3), we experience uncertainty, following which we face a budgets short-lived steep decline in marketing and sales alike. 
    marketing under turmoil
    ...So, does cutting down on marketing investment have any major impact on consumer response?  

    “It is not the strong, nor the intelligent who survive, but
    those who are quickest to adapt.”
    Charles Darwin

    ***The study revolves primarily on the amount of units sold versus the monitored marketing amounts. A case study is based on the automobile industry as a sample of the luxury market; a special focus is then conducted on the Mazda case, followed by a brief comparison with the food industry as a sample of the commodity market.

    Monday, February 7, 2011

    The Viral Marketing Revolution - Leads a Real Revolution #Egypt #Jan25

    Jan 25, 2011 Egyptain Revolution:

    It all started with a protest on a Facebook page for Khaled Said, said to be killed by the Egyptian police (denied by the government). Organized on Facebook, and spread through viral marketing; the Egyptian revolution is the first of its size that takes full advantage of social networks.

    When we talk about a revolution, we talk about Leaders; and real leaders have followers. ..So what better place than Twitter for an online revolution?

    Following the Egyptian revolution on Twitter is all the more touching - with the hashtags #tahrir,  #Egypt and #jan25. My personal favorites were the Lebanese @bloggerseif and @sarahkaram1 *ok, I am biased*. Here are some exerpt tweets:

    twitter revolution

    This time around, it is not only the journalists that the government fears. No.  This time around, the torch of freedom is held by bloggers, twitter users and social media community leaders such as  @Sandmonkey and Google Marketing Manager Wael Ghoneim. 

    No wonder the internet got disrupted in Egypt following the #Jan25 revolution. This comes only to attest on the great role the techsavvy youth is playing in this upheaval. 

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    Apple is No Longer Cool

    There are some areas in life where kids lead and the world follow. Brand managers, meet your critics: the teenagers.

    If a teenager would come up to you and say "Apple is no longer cool", wouldn't you beleive him - As opposed to an experience marketer in his late 40s, or a marketeer like me (I bet some of you were getting ready to fight when they read the title!) You are likely to argue with the latter and explain to him how he could be misinformed; yet wouldn't you doubt your own knowledge in the matter when a teenager comes up with such a statement?

    Have you heard what is the newest trend amongst teens? The huge headphones, colored and really visible ones. I mean, the last I had heard, earphones were getting smaller and all-the-way almost transparent. Well, it seems like teens have issued their verdict, what's in today are SkullCandy and Beats... and hmmm... anything sold at the Apple store?! I am left thinking, I am so off beat!

    The fact of the matter is, teenagers make the rules when it comes to brand image. A successful branding campaign can be best measured by its effect on teenagers. 

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    Benihana Kuwait - The Art of Creating a PR Crisis

     There's an art in managing a company's public relations to maintain and safeguard a brand image. Now, thanks to Benihana's Kuwait branch's GM there's also an art in creating a PR crisis:

    Step 1: Target an opinion leader with more than 2,000 twitter followers, who likes to voice his thoughts online on his popular blog. (there's a reason why marketeers seek opinion leaders and trend setters!) Case in point: @ and

    Step 2: Respond to a negative review with a negative comment, displaying an even worse brand image than the one already showcased in the review; and consequently proving the reviewer right!

    Step 3: Add some spice to the story by magnifying the consequences; case in point: file a lawsuit!

    Step 4: Insult an entire people by adding a stupid comment; case in point: "ARE YOU LEBANESE?'

    Step 5: Sit back and watch the online Lebanese community fire back with negative publicity. 

    Now I have 2 conclusions in mind, either:

    Hypothesis 1: the GM is smart and was aware of what he was doing, in which case, he is gaining from the negative publicity by creating awareness for his newly opened Benihana branch in Kuwait. In which case he should be paying Mark instead of suing him.

    Hypothesis 2: the GM did not realise that he could have simply invited his reviewer and offered him a free treat like our awesome restaurants here in Lebanon tend to do.

    (I was at Shtrumpf's Dbayeh branch the other day- I got a completely free lunch for simply not enjoying the food - and we are talking appetizer + drinks+ meal for three people - and if you think this bad experience will stop me from coming back - well think again!! Amazing customer service gets talked about, creates an amazing brand image and a customer for life.)

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