Social Media Marketing

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Lately I am going to so many events , most are tech or social media related, but … well… a lot of the time… the digital me feels at unease and disappointed, unable to share the event with the world or growing a grudge against the organizers, so I decided to write this simple guide declaring openly to all event organizers that anything less would be a disappointment, and ,well if they do the things I mentioned, they will make the online community more involved in their events and expand their reach and visibility. Don’t they all want that?

Ah well, as my main objective is self centered I mainly focused in things that need to be going during and after the event. (Plus most of them score well on before event stuff after I corner them with my questions in emails) .

1. # – Have a HASHTAG!

This is an out most basic, but then again most event organizers forget to make it short enough, announce it publicly more than once and most importantly forget to register it at a hashtag repository like twubs or  wthashtag,  so most of the time I am livetweeting from an event my followers start asking me “what is this and that #xyz … any links…  ?”

2. Official LiveTweeting

That brings us naturally to livetweeting. I have already talked about the importance of livetweeting here but i just wanted to emphasize that event organizers need to keep on livetweeting from the official event account to update people at the event on what is happening, remind who the speakers are and what their handles are, tell them where the live feeds are (doesn’t hurt to do all that in parallel on linked in and facebook as well) … AND if you are an event sponsor, especially at an event centered around social media, especially if your produce is focused around social media, big thumbs down to you if you are not tweeting about the event and not quoting your guest speaker. Yes @zawya I am talking about you and your zero tweets at MediaMeForum and your replying only two days later to my tweets. Which brings me to my next point.

3. Answer & Engage Tweets

For starters, there is no fun for a hashtag without a livescreen. At MediaMEForm the guys did a great job of livetweeting what was happening, BUT [yes it is a big but] they completely dismissed the twitter community. The twitter Screen was live only during the panels and it was put in a place where no speaker can see what we were talking about, and even the moderator did not address any questions from the tweets, nor did their official twitter channel. Unlike ArabNET, where there were ginormous screens dedicated to tweets and speakers paying full attention to what was happening with one speaker undressing to get a wave of tweets. Still , I think the impact will be even more augmented if you have a dedicated moderator to pick at least two questions from the twittersphere for each panel/speaker and ask them at the event. Honestly speaking, the questions are more pungent, very well formulated and more daring and provoking more mindful discussions, isn’t that what you want? Aren’t your events targeted at identifying the trends of the future?

4. Live Ustream

I was on the peak of bliss drinking my Pepsi, eating popcorn in my PJs watching the pitches at Yallastartup weekend day 1 and working on the other laptop in parallel… but then, lo and behold once the pitches ended and we started getting some cool behind the curtains views of the audience, their feedback and interactions, seeing familiar faces….. THEN the stream turned off and a vigilant message told me that the stream will only resume after one day to show the final pitches and that all in between will not be documented… I felt that that was plain mean… YallaStartup weekend is a sort of non-commercial example.

So all of you event organizers will be saying :”why should we put the stuff live for free, when people pay to attend?”

And I’ll tell you. one has nothing to do with the other.

Most of us attend the events for the networking and has nothing to do with the panels and the speakers, who by the way we realize travel from one event to the other with similar presentations, who most of the time blog a lot and more in depth about the subject, or write whole books on the matter… So you putting up a live stream doesn not diminish your financial gain, which BTW you have reaped in full from teh event sponsors and paying attendees. So you may as well give the sponsor’s their money’s worth and help promote their brands and spread their messages and you event’s messages (while your at it) to even more people. People, who by the way are highly targeted individuals, who simply could not catch a flight, or whose bosses came to the event but left them at the office, or teh bosses who sent employees there and want to make sure that they sent them to an interesting event… People who would love to come to the event next year. People who would tweet about the event and talk and talk about it…

It was so amazing to watch the few panels I have missed (due to my weird trip schedule) at Media ME Forum on their UStream account and the quality of the videos/voice/ the nice music they put when nothing was happening – really professional! And ArabNet, they really understood that if they just empower the social media addicts, their event will be promoted across the roof and that’s what happened.

4.PHOTOS

We live in the now and like to see photos now, and share them and comment on them – ALL NOW! So do not make us wait two days for your flickr or facebook gallery upload. You can set up something extremely simple on site, like that photo booth Arabnet had (could not find link), that immediately sent all photos to their flickr account. Also make sure if you have something like that up & running, promote it well before and during the event.

You have a lot of room to be creative here and there are more wonderful ideas out there to engage people in crowdsourced photography at your event.

5. Icing on the Cake – Netvibes

So you do all of the stuff I mentioned above and integrate all of them into one awesome netvibes page that people courting your event could easily follow.  This is one of the more magical tools out there and one I really, really adore to look at when it comes to events I am not at and ones I am at (if they have one that is). For instance check the cool netvibes page SpotOnPR does annually for Gitex and while you are at it, check Spot On PR’s Netvibe’s page. Don’t you see how that will help your event to become more sharable and viral?

6. Social booklets

You lovely event organizers always give us those nice and creative booklets with all the info about the speakers, but why oh why don’t you mention the speakers’/moderators’ twitter handles, websites, blogs next to their names, so we can connect to them, address our questions to them, or just plain stalk them? and while you’re at it, dedicate a page at the beginning providing us with the event hashtag, livestream, netvibes page… et all

7. PLUGSSSSS

I always email event organizers about plugs, they always feel so happy when i tell them i am planning to bring my laptop to livetweet and welcome the thought and assure me WIFI and electricity plugs are available, but up till now, none of them have delivered on that. Do you expect our battery lives to be infinite? Do you expect us to have spare batteries for our iPhones? We want to enjoy the event all of its durations while checking on work email and tweeting or life-blogging YOUR event. Plain and simple, there should be a dedicated plug at least for every four attendees… Not that I mind making eyes to the camera guy to co-share his plug and carrying around at all times a multi-plug adapter, or stealing power for my mobile from a fellow attendees dying laptop…

8. GOOD WIFI

This probably should’ve been at the top of the list, but I consider it a basic and only as I reread the whole thing I decided to highlight it, just in case….

9.Screen & Screen Brightness

Also a little after thought: try to have several screens at the event and make sure that their brightness is optimal, so we are able to take good cellphone pics no matter how far from the stage we are without stealing your speaker’s valuable “top secrets”.

After Event Tips

  • Encourage us to send feedback
  • Send us all the lovely links for the photos, social pages, videos, slides … post event stats, news clippings about the event
  • It is also lovely to receive some post event answers to questions that were asked during teh forum but did not have enough time to be answered properly or the material/numbers was not at hand.
  • Send us an industry newsletter (yeah i do not mind up being automatically signed up for that)
  • Ask us what do we want to see at your next event
  • Continue Tweeting, Updating the Facebook/linked in page of the event and engaging all who were at the event

Next month, I am planning on attending the 1st Arab Social Media Forum, which the organizers are promising to be a wholesomely dedicated event to all social media aspects… so…. Guys, I am really hoping on seeing all that stuff there [wink, wink]!

Have I left anything out? What is it that you found missing at the last event you have attended?

*Update 1: Forgot to tell you how at Microsoft Open Door Event this year there were special giveaways prepared for tweeters. Small giveaway, but nonetheless, it was pretty sweet.

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Creative Commons License

Women in Technology (Lebanon) have invited me to speak at their Networking and Sustainability Conference  about Social Media/Marketing & Networking in October. The objective was to show the organization members simple and accessible ways to use social media to raise awareness about their NGOs or small businesses without going into complexities. The approach I used was to show these women that are mostly from an older generation that the new technology follows the same rules as the normal socializing that women are so well equipped to do. At the end I listed a few campaigns that relied on social change for fund raising or awareness raising. I had to present in Arabic, so the slides do not say much, except carrying you around a retro, black and white movie theme that was supposed to calm down those ladies, and show them that social media is nothing new and it just simplifies communication. To get the ladies relaxed and less averse to technology I started by telling them that men, who are typically perceived as tech savvy also had their fears, like washing machines, irons, vacuum cleaners… as well as focusing on the strengths women have that make them social drivers. Seconds later they were chuckling and demanding SMEX Beirut for more social media training.

It was an honor to present along with SMEX Beirut , The Amazing Maya Zankoul, The Ostensibly talented Tony Yammine, and the Charismatic Ayman Itani.
It was also extremely touching when after a presentation a girl from the audience gave me a phone accessory which she made herself. She said that she is currently working on her blog, well you can check some of the stuff she is into here .
You can check photos from the panel here.
About WIT Lebanon Networking and Sustainability Conference (NSC).

The NSC in Lebanon brought together over 130 people including representatives from WIT sponsors MEPI and Microsoft, WIT staff, local dignitaries, in-country stakeholders, WIT participants, Professional Development Leaders, and representatives from WIT Partner Organizations. The event was hosted under the patronage of Minister of the Interior Ziad Baroud.
The primary objectives of the Networking and Sustainability Conferences were to create a more cohesive network of local Partners Organizations and in-country teams and strengthen WIT’s Professional Development Networks.

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****Update: Fares is the winner and will receive The Phoenicians book via Antoine Online. Thank you All for playing and better luck next time.

So far Antoine Online have their heart in the proper place. They are renewing their online shopping site and have signed multiple agreements with international retailers like Amazon to ensure you are really able to get ANY book you want.

The website is being released this week at the Salon du Livre in Beta with testers being invited to help iron everything out. So you can log on to check it here

and help out, or just relax and wait for my full review once I make my first purchase.

BUT FOR NOW:

Tell me which book you would like to get and why and one of my lucky readers will get his dream book through Antoine Online*.


Disclaimer: Antoine Online have asked me to review their site  – True. And yet my objectivity shall not be tainted in terms of what I write.
*International Readers welcome

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Well with all my business I forgot to tell you about my 1st guest post over at GigaLB.com, which is a hip Lebanese Tech Online Mag run by the Maniachis for technology insiders, lovers and addicts, and early adopter consumers. When I sent Chadi the post, 2 days late I did not imagine that he would accept posting it with the headline that I put. But anyways he did, so now, if any of you want to berate me for the lack of posting you can read between the lines to check the reasons why. Anyways, here is my blog post with the takeaways Lebanese marketers and Social Media enthusiasts need to munch on following the event.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

And keep on the lookout for other posts of mine over at GigaLb who are good hosts.

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I wrote it last week, just as I came back from a special press screening of The Social Network Movie, which will be released on October 28th, courteously provided by the lovely and amazing guys at Cineklik (with no strings attached as usual).

Let me just start by saying that everyone who is into Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Entrepreneurship, creativity and how new ideas are born, or just plain corporate ball games needs to watch this movie.

The plot amazingly intertwines the evolution of human relations and synergies with how ideas grow, expand and catch on. It also asks the eternal questions of: What gets people creative? Why do we do the things we do? What is right and what is wrong? What is the worth of an idea? What is the best business model for a DOT – COM? In short it is about how Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook and the players who pitched in, in all the different ways. And how they all search for the absolute truth.

It is the first movie in a very long while that makes me want to talk about it for hours and hours non-stop – This is the genius of the script, the brilliance of the actors and how it all well resonates with our fast paced realities and the “Youth” being the movers and shakers in this Business Era, while lawyers and far more experienced people try to grasp the ideas.

The Social Network Poster

I loved how it explores what made Facebook different from the Hi5, Myspace and Friendsters of the time, and zooms into how each element of the facebook profiles evolved.  It is true magic how every player in a company plays a certain role to peg it forward, but then again not all of them are recognized…. Well I will not say more, you have to watch the movie to get the train of philosophical analysis rolling.

The final thing I want to add is that it will turn into a cult movie that will elevate the pedestal Facebook as brand is on both among Technocrats, Entrepreneurs, SM Freaks and wannabees. In my opinion it is the best product placement feat since “Career Opportunities” and it came spot in the next wave of the 2nd Dot-Com boom. Using Facebook, after watching the movie, simply becomes a religious experience. Try it!

Disclaimer: This is NOT a solicited review, the movie simply rocks.

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Identity Chef in Communicate Magazine - Lebanese Bloggers Thanks to Joesbox I found out that my blog was once again featured in Communicate Magazine. The blogpost featured is Gabriel Ghali’s Guest Post about the  Islamic Brand.

Thank you communicate for praising my dear friend.

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Just to tell you that The Identity Chef is now on Beirut.com :)

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So I barely logged in to facebook the other day, when my jaw drops at this.

And the ad takes you to this landing page.

Guerrilla marketing just got a new meaning and being 007 was never easier.

Now honestly, things like these really make you think twice about your online activity and how your online information can be misused and how you can be hunted down and targeted with ads without even recognizing it.

So why hasn’t the Lebanese government blocked this website? Isn’t it a threat to national security?

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-Update-

This pots was mentioned in Global Voices Online , Thank you Guys!

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Flipside beirut on Foursquare - using locatiob based marketing

Was tweaking through foursquare for businesses section when this stopped me in my feet. I felt so ecstatic with the idea I wanted to share with you what Flipside Beirut are doing, by pioneering location based marketing.

I will try to contact them to find out more, in the meantime let me know if you’ve tried the place before.

And Check:

- Their foursquare page

- Their twitter page

- Their Website

- Their Facebook page

It is obvious that the promotion is quite new, but let us keep watching to see where it gets.

So, do you know of any other businesses in Lebanon that have effective foursquare promotions? Or any ones in the Middle East per se.

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The day started with great frustration as I read Liliane’s blog post regarding the turnaround of events at CNN.

I’m not going to get into the details of how a 140 character tweet spiraled madness and let the network to believe that Octavia’s Position was compromised

Photo taken at Social media day in beirut

The first thing we learn about corporate social media practices, is that the benefits of it far outweigh the risks. We are also taught that successful brand social media strategies must reflect a personal approach and sincerity in communicating to your audience and reflecting your true persona.

Big companies such as CNN have been happily leveraging Social Media through their wide network of brand champions, like Octavia, who have been dedicatedly tweeting their personal & professional experiences from tehir twitter accounts, as well as sharing on various social networks, reaching out people, interacting with them and building relationships feeding the ultimate brand persona.

It is that sincerity and openness that helped Octavia build relationships and trust with the digital natives in the Middle East, relationships with which she enriched her employer and the quality of work she has provided.

And in the digital world, we naturally understand, without disclaimers, that whatever is tweeted by Octavia, though under the CNN handle reflects by and large her personal opinions which may not match that of her employer.

So doesn’t CNN allow its employees to have personal opinions (whatever they may be)? Are CNN employees only allowed to express their opinions when it benefits CNN and is not controversial? ( I would really like to take a look at CNN’s social media guidelines)

I find it very disappointing that at the sight if a small back lash CNN was so reluctant to overlook all that Octavia has contributed to CNN, instead of standing up for her. It is not the right way to treat a brand champion will definitely reflect negatively and strain o other CNN staff in their social media presence.

CNN how do you expect your brand champions to stand by you, if you do not cover their backs and put full trust in them.

I would appreciate if you can leave your honest comment on Octavia’s Post here.

Other Lebanese Bloggers who have covered this issue:

- Independence 05

- Abzzyy

- Bahaafe

- Beirut Spring and his interview with BBC

-Plus 961

- Tarek Chemali

- Arabianism

- Beirut Beauty

- Pascal Assaf ( Arabic)

- Joeyy Hat

- Mind Soup and here

- Facebook page created by @youmny

- Brit In Beirut

- Eliane Badr ( Arabic)

( if you are a Lebanese blogger who has blogged on the subject, kindly let me know to link back to your post)

I also particularly loved Jillian C York’s post – Shame on American Media – stating even more examples of media double standards.

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