As the number of people on social media increases, using online platforms to reach consumers is a growing trend for brands around the world.

More than 3 billion people used social media every month last year, according to a report by networking and management platforms, We Are Social and Hootsuite

Meaning that 42% of the world’s population is posting, following forums, and scrolling through feeds on a regular basis.

During the latest GITEX event, a yearly gathering of global tech experts in the UAE, industry insiders gave their take on effective social media marketing strategies

Digital anthropologist Dr. Crystal Abidin at GITEX

GETTING THE MESSAGE ACROSS

Digital anthropologist Dr. Crystal Abidin shared her latest research on influencer marketing.

She explained how marketers, and political parties, are weaponizing social media by using shock value to deliver their message.

“You entertain them by feeding their desire for confession, for gossip,” she says. “After the time has passed, you work out a plan to de-escalate, to drown out the scandal, but still retain people’s interest in your life. Before giving them the gold nugget, which is the policy you want to publish or the product you want to put out sponsored.”

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Abidin also discussed the concept of “astroturfing”, where advertisers hide sponsored messages or products in picture posts, in a bid to secretly influence viewers.

Embedding products in Instagram posts is one of the influencer techniques Photo Credit: Dr. Crystal Abidin

PICKING THE PERFECT PLATFORM

Sector experts at GITEX told audiences that ensuring long-term client engagement was key to their success.

Social media strategist Joe Federer believes that successful brands need to listen to their audience more intently and tap into specific platforms.

Social media strategist Joe Federer speaks to Euronews at GITEX

“There’s this big problem that marketers have right now, they tend to think of social media as this bucket of content and they apply one strategy to [all] social media,” he explains. “The way I participate on Facebook is totally different to how I participate on Twitter, or Instagram or Reddit.”

One case study Federer highlights is from Japanese clothing company UNIQLO, which uses the discussion application Reddit to answer personalized questions from customers about its garments.

As a result, Federer says the brand saw a 20 percent increase in online sales four years ago, demonstrating the rewards of finding common ground between the seller and the end-user.

SOFTWARE TO SNARE THE SHOPPER

According to some experts, marketing software plays an important role in a company’s social media advertising strategy.

Emarsys is a firm helping more than 2,000 brands globally discover ways to reach consumers via social media and other digital platforms.

“Here in the Middle East, brands can get customer data a lot easier than in other regions,” says the company’s UAE-based regional director, Adam Szucs. “For example, in Saudi Arabia consumers are almost used to giving out their mobile number but they don’t like giving out their email address. Which is exactly the other way around to Europe.”

Szucs flags up the online fashion retailer BrandAlley, which in 2015 saw orders more than double after it created targeted adverts for consumers on Facebook and Instagram.

TAPPING A BILLION DOLLAR MARKET

Szucs explains that brands have to pay on average one dollar for every Facebook advert that leads users to their page.

Which is the equivalent to the price of 40 text messages or 1,600 emails.

The global digital marketing software market was estimated to be worth about $37.5 billion in 2017, according to U.S based business research group Analytical Research Cognizance.

The body forecasts that by 2026, the market will more than double in size and value to be worth approximately $90 billion.

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