February 2010

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Got a mentioned by the lovely @laradunston in her article about twitter in the middle east, here it goes:

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What’s happening?

Suddenly everyone’s using Twitter. Lara Dunston (@laradunston) went to tweet-ups in Dubai and Beirut to find out why

update

At a tweet-up in Dubai, a woman whose Twitter handle is @Kangayayaroo glances around the table. “This is an atypical expat experience,” she confides. “Because of Twitter we’re friends with people we wouldn’t normally meet socially.” Joining us are “tweeps”, as Twitter users call themselves, from all over the region and beyond.

The Middle East is racking up Twitter users at a rapid pace. A survey by Spot On PR found that users in the MENA region quadrupled in the second quarter of 2009, with 14,000 accounts by September. Dubai’s Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) and Jordan’s Queen Rania (@QueenRania) are among them.

Continue Reading HERE

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via ivysays.comToday, IVY was giving dating advice on twitter and asking people for feedback on her make a move rose giveaway and planning a tweetup dinner.

Yesterday, at the table, we sat arguing for around 20 minutes whether IVY is real or not.

The whole week before, people were passionately interacting with IVY on twitter…

Two weeks ago, Ivy registered to attend a tweetup and blogged about it.

And the truth of the matter is that we shouldn’t care if IVY is real or not. We should be happy that companies have finally understood the language of digital natives and is creating campaigns that resonate and interact with us, as well as the other poor mere mortals. After EXOTICA’s  unexciting Different Christmas campaign, that even failed to point us to the blog on their billboards, Leo Burnett, Exotica’s ad agency,  reviewed all of its mistakes and came up with something with a phenomenal snowball effect. Yes, as I said before my friends, social media marketing is sparking to life in the middle east and you are either with us, or eaten by the competition.

Things to learn from Exotica’s IvySays Project.

1- Give and you shall receive

The IVY we have come to know and love is a giver. She started by giving us dating advise, which though we may not all apply, but we all loved and we felt compelled single people everywhere felt compelled to try out Ivy’s moves and then… Ivy slipped a rose into our hands and made it all the more easier. Think about your clients, think about what they need. And even if you are B2B business, think: Do your they need education, help, comfort, care, empowerment? All of us do, don’t we? Now how can you use all that your expertise to help them, regardless of your product?

2-Engage and you shall be engaged

Before IVY got to her first post, she got a twitter account and after that, she did not just re-tweet her own posts, she replied to people, she talked to them, shared her opinions on outside issues, gave them advice and encouragement. There was no pushing her message or asking for anything for herself. That is why, when IVY asked questions she got enormous feedback, even from those who were in doubt about her true identity. And that is value you will not be able to leverage unless you create a genuine online persona [not to be confused with a retweet bot].

3-Go where they go, do what they do!

Ivy blogged about various creeks and corners in Beirut, be in Kayan, Greedy Goose or Le Grey, and that is what made her connect and resonate with her audience. Ivy did not blog about flowers she blogged about fashion, make-up, glamor, plastic surgery, national pride, chocolate- SUGAR, SPICE and EVERYTHING NICE – and we all like nice things.  Then again, she went to twitter to reach digital natives and, mind you,  she even guest blogged and re-blogged it on her own site. Did IVY ask girls to go to EXOTICA to get the flowers? No, they went out to  the most up and coming place – Gemmayze, Achrafieh and Hamra. The only thing that could’ve been done differently would be  giving out roses all around Lebanon, and not just Beirut.

4-Empower and you shall be empowered

Even if they did not comment, retweet or send emails, thought they actively do, with every dating tip IVY empowered ladies to take actions. Girls, being the gossip machines they are, would discuss it – which means GOING VIRAL offline. And then again with every rose given out to a guy Exotica created a positive sentiment, that is teh first step to along lasting relationship, not with the guy, but with the brand. And come 2011 I expect more girls to send out flowers to beau’s, and now, not because they[roses] are free, but because it makes them feel good. And this is the golden key to any successful brand. And did I mention the publicity, Ivy’s campaign is getting from mainstream media?

5-Going against the current and bringing the currents together

There are two stakeholders in any relationship – MAN & WOMAN. Exotica’s outdoors visuals empowered men, by teasing them with images of women they could have had in 2o09 if only they were brave enough. While Ivy, took a less traditional approach, and she looked to empower women. Mind you, women are not traditionally the ones we think first of when we think about selling flowers, right? But then again, I have seen countless times flowers being delivered to men at our offices from girlfriends, wives or wanna-bes. And then again, think of it, if a girl gives a guy one rose before valentine, and the guy likes the girl, on Valentine he will get her no less than a bouquet and what will his 1st choice be? Certainly EXOTICA. So you see, by bringing people together and spreading love Exotica may actually have record sales on February 14.

Finally,  I want to congratulate Exotica on the Brilliant Initiative and hope that IVY , whoever she is, continues blogging even after February 14, otherwise the digital natives all around, both those who think IVY is Real and Fake, will feel beguiled and disappointed.

Googling I found this song called IVY SAYS, I wonder if it had anything to do with the origin of the campaign.

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This week Smex Beirut was kind enough to invite all of us to their new offices to announce their plans for 2010 and socialize. I know the guys have cut out for them because:

Prince Charming: ” So what do these guys do?”
Me: ” Basically they teach NGO’s how to use social media for change and to reahc their target audience”
PC: ” Did not know you need to have training for that, isn’t it natural?”
Me: “well yeah , but most NGO’s don’t even know why they should have a website, leave alone, what they should post on it…and think of all the help and exposure they could get if they work on it using Funraising’s model…”

So below is their monthly newsletter, with their plans for the months to come. Obviously, SMEX is branching otu to reach greater audience and enable all citizens, which is even better. Social Media novices, get involved with SMEX

February 4, 2010 • Volume 1 •?Issue 3
SMEX Re-Launches with a New Website and Open Office Party

SMEX Re-Launches with a New Website and Open Office Party

On February 2, SMEX opened its offices to Lebanon’s growing social media for social change community to celebrate its relaunch as a full-time organization. Visitors were treated to a tour of the colorful offices, which include a social space for intimate events and screenings and a training room.

The open office coincided with a launch of SMEX’s new website and official registration of Social Media Exchange as a Lebanese NGO. We also took advantage of the opportunity to ask visitors what they want from SMEX in 2010. One suggestion: A workshop for parents and children on the responsible use of the Internet. What would you like to see? Let us know at ideas@smex.org or by calling 01-380-553.

Thanks to all those who made it, and for those who couldn’t, we invite you to pass by anytime.

Workshop: Social Media for Jobseekers

In February, Social Media Exchange, in collaboration with recruitment specialist Mary Roepke, will host Career Development with Social Media. Delivered in two half-day workshops, this training will introduce you to the world of social media for networked professionals and show you how the Web and social networking can help you reach your goals.

The workshops will be held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 11, and Thursday, Feb. 25. The cost for each half-day course is 60,000LL per participant, or both courses for 100,000LL. The course will be given in English.

For more information, visit our website or you can RSVP now.

NOTE: We will also be hosting two half-day workshops for human resources professionals on how to use social media to recruit better candidates and diversify their talent pools. Please get in touch at training@smex.org or 01-380-553 for more information.
Workshop: Basic Internet Privacy and Security

Have you had enough of computer viruses and malware? Are you worried about identity theft or what might happen if your Facebook details get into the wrong hands? Well, If you aren’t, you should be. SMEX is launching a pilot internet privacy and security workshop for select participants on February 15, 16, and 22.

The first two sessions will cover the basics you need to know to keep yourself and your data secure. The third session will take place a few days later and focus on troubleshooting and answering specific questions. All sessions will be given in Arabic. For more information about how to sign up for this free training, please email training@smex.org or call 01-380-553.

Screening: 10 Tactics for Turning Information into Action

English with Arabic subtitles.
On Sunday, Feb. 14, at 5 p.m., SMEX will screen a 55-minute video on how to turn information into activism. Case studies from Lebanon and around the world are presented by activists working on a wide range of issues. The documentary, which was shot during the InfoActivism Camp, India 2009, is brought to you by the Tactical Technology Collective and was translated into Arabic by Rebecca Saab Saade at SMEX. Watch a preview. Activists and NGO representatives who attend the screening can purchase the DVD and companion toolkit for 15,000LL. Proceeds will go toward shipping taxes and refreshments. Please RSVP to let us know you’re coming.
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That’s all for this edition of the SMEX newsletter. You can also keep up with our upcoming workshops and events on our calendar. We hope to see you soon!

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Empire popcorn box design competitionWhy limit yourself to your internal pool of designers when you can hire an agency? But why would you limit yourself to an agency, when you have thousands of designers with explosive ideas, right? And, oh , they will give you their ideas for free hoping to expand their portfolio and win a substantial prize.

Moreover, given the needed exposure the campaign will raise overall brand awareness and will give people a sense of ownership in the brand as well as hype their curiosity.

I think it’s brilliant and as a cinephille and popcorn addict I will be watching the result closely.

If you are young designer, why not give it a go, you never know what will happen!

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No color - no life - Toufoula PosterNo color - no life - Toufoula PosterNo color - no life - Toufoula PosterNo color - no life - Toufoula Poster

These visuals are truly amazing, they are down to the point, they convey the message, and visually communicate what the organization does. Just thought I’d share them with you, in case you haven’t seen them around.

Toufoula is a young Lebanese NGO that seeks to improve the life of terminally ill children in any way possible. One of their projects aims at decorating hospital rooms of the sick children. You can check out more about them on Toufoula’s website and while you’re at it, check their profile which has photos of all the rooms they’ve done.

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Right when I asked the Question on trusting your guts and making tough choices, Khaled surprises me with this to the point post in my inbox. And though you all know how much I question my own decisions (it’s out of my control), especially career related, the fatalist in me rejoices at his words. Read on…

My advice to you on facing decision-making time.

Every other day I interact with individuals that are at crossroads of making life-changing decisions. The one thing in common among people weighing out their options is the stress that accompanies such a high involvement exercise. Making a decision is something we do every day; whether we pay attention or not: almost hourly we are faced with choices. But the decisions that really take their toll on our minds are the life-altering ones; the major ones that determine our career path, future, personal and professional progress.

Stress of decision making

via http://www.freewebs.com/kachukeland/paintguys.htm

Nearly a decade ago I received the single most helpful advice of my life: advice that I pass on to anyone who knows me on a personal level. And this is advice that I will share with you now. I was in the process of making a major decision, and at the period of time, this decision and its projected outcome were weighing heavily on my conscience. Until an old family friend helped me approach the decision-making process differently. Their advice was as follows:

“Any decision that you make, is the right decision.”

Yes it might be hard to conceive or accept. But it s very true. Any major decision that you are required to independently take will end up being the correct one*. How so, you may ask? This is very simply due to the ability of the human mind to adapt. Humans are able to cope and become accustomed to the situations they’re in (mostly) and are continuously looking for improvement. I like to cite an example that fortifies this advice and illustrate it.

Think of the last time you suffered a minor injury (a small cut or bruise on the arm, per se). The one thing that was definite after your injury is that your skin healed itself daily. Your body is built to recover, regenerate new skin, and eliminate the wound. Likewise, your mind is able to recover, regenerate new thought and attitude to help you cope with stress. Reflect on that while you review the last major decision you took. You will then realize how that same decision you made was the right one simply because you were able to excel and manage the outcome in a way that worked best for you. So if you re about to choose a university major, a job offer, or a change in career path: don’t stress yourself out. Face the decision with head up and a forward-thinking attitude being confident that you will be doing the right thing!

*that being said, I am by no means referring to decisions that involve unhealthy or destructive behavior. Those types of decisions are never the right ones obviously.

BIO: Khaled G. Itani is an ex-AdMan with an MBA in Marketing from the American University of Beirut. With years of Advertising/Communications experience from Grey Beirut and JWT, Khaled is currently a Client Services Manager for a leading North American e-Commerce firm.

If you still haven’t, Read Khaled’s Guest Post on Mastering Habit No. 5 to imprive your understanding of people and situations.

Oh & don’t forget to Participate in my Fringe GiveAway.

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It has been a long time since I have published a tangible post and a lot has been happening in the media scene in Lebanon. And a lot of exciting things have been taking place in the Lebanese Social Media Scene…

I have got the best news for you: the educational sector is finally catching on on the gap between the dogmas and the realities. This Spring Ayman Itani will be giving a course in LAU on Media, Culture and Technology. The course will provide an in-depth overview of everything out there for complete beginners and focus on teaching  not only the how & why of  using these tools, but also the New Media Mindset empowering them with real case studies and practical work shops. Ayman also has a couple of surprises up his sleeves for the lucky students taking his course and will be updating us on their progress all through the way, so stay tuned!

Media Culture & Technology course at LAU spring 2010

Another fabulous thing is that traditional media has now also acknowledged the new media channels and with the help of Social Media enthusiasts like Amer Tabsh it is starting to get the coverage it deserves. Below are Video Clips from a Live show on Lebanese Future TV interviewing Maya Zankoul, Samer Karam and Ayman Itani regarding their twitter addictions. Hopefully this will encourage new active Lebanese twitter users as well as companies to experiment with twitter and other media.

In other news, you can check my Bloggers FaceOff on Chanty’s blog.

So what’s new in your lives my dears?

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