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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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Resisting Change

Photo by the fantastic Naeema Zareef (twitter.com/naeema)

Two events have been the highlight of the last week of 2009 for me. One of them was my darling’s stiff resistance of the flu and the other was a live encounter with a typical Marketing Manager 1.0. And , eventually, yours truly got to celebrate the assent of the new year in bed with fever as well… making the lessons learned from these two encounters all the more vivid.

1)Ignore it, Maybe it’ll go away

Years of evolution have not killed the breadwinner’s instinct in men, which even stands above the instinct of self preservation. When your man falls sick, he would always keep on going to work, as usual, doing all his house chores in an exemplary manner, without admitting that something is wrong. I suppose in ancient tribes, the sick were isolated or cast out of the villages & left to die alone. So God forbid for your man to admit that something is wrong. But what goes in the manager’s 1.0’s head is beyond my understanding. M1.0 says that the marketing has not changed and that the foundations and underlying rules still remain valid, he has a moment of truth when he condescends to admit that advertising has changed, and then he switches back to denial by saying that advertising is only a part of marketing, he goes back to touching on changing customer needs, but breaks off at specifics… And, of course, in the same manner that prince charming audaciously refuses to take a sick day and stay in bed, M1.0 would say, – “We do not need a website now, we’ll start working on it in a couple of months, we’re studying our competition for now.” But by the time they are weakened and overpowered by their disease, the first would’ve plowed through a week of 20% productivity at work and then lying in bed for 2 days to recuperate and another week and a half of insane coughing, which is a significant trade off for staying at home for two days, as I did, and then going back to work a 100% recharged.  And our M1.0 Would greatly benefit said competitors by not having a significant online presence by as much as he will frustrate his prospects, who would be unable to find a way to contact them and find out more about their products. And no, a Facebook page is not as good as Corporate website (if you disagree with that, let me know, I’d be more than happy to share my views!).

2) Time Heals everything

Mon Beau will tell you that it takes seven days to cure a flu anyhow, so why bother and put your life on hold? M1.0 says that brand awareness will come with time, after my comment about missing opportunities 5 months after market entry. Well, in my dictionary, one week equals, on average, 70 tweets, 3 blogposts, and a possible email marketing or other online campaign. Multiply that by 5 and you will have thousands of touchpoints with your clients that come at a fraction of a cost of traditional media. Maybe our generation is too aggressive, but less than a month in my new job, I am already feeling unproductive for not bringing in more value and having to cram up on literature/research 50% of my time and that is precisely why, I use the remaining 50% to make actionable change NOW. In my eye, less is more in the long run, and little things done now, be it a greeting card, sms, news release… may not just prevent you from LOSING an existing client, but also get you a new client TODAY!

3) Expenditure = ROI

When hubby does reach a pharmacy, after 5 days, he’ll sweep off the shelves everything  that can remotely help him, or at least that is what he thinks. But by that time, the poles have shifted and all he needs to do is really wait, sip orange juice and rest to recover, instead of ingesting antibiotics which will further drain his life -resources. M1.o will also go to extremes, after 5 months, hiring top models, pampering them and doing runway shows, publishing ads in glitzy magazines… in two words maniacally spending!  But same-same, time would’ve done its thing, and that extra investment would’ve been too little too late! But that does not mean that you shouldn’t still take in your vitamins regularly. Don’t wait until you get a soar throat to take action. Act now, act always! Because,

4) Nobody Cares about YOU, as much as You!

Your boss is not going to give you a day off when you are saying you are a little sick but already came to work, and your clients are not going to run 20 google searches, searching for your coordinates if you landing page, facebook page, twitter handle or corporate website have not been SEO and keyword optimized. And if your marketing campaign does not relate to me, your target client, and if I do not find what I want about you, no money in the world would buy you my consumer’s sentiment and loyalty. And beware, I am too studying your competitors, and so far , they are ahead of you.

5) Birds do it, bees do it…

Men have this secret solidarity pact about enduring illness at the office, when I used to take a sick day at my previous job, I sometimes felt my boss took it as a personal offense. On the other hand, my spouse’s boss can call him while he’s sick saying, – “Aren’t you man enough, chuck on some pills and get on going!”. Bizarre and unacceptable, but, nonetheless true! But, even if denial is the trend, you should take advantage of it. While everyone is “hachooing” at the office, retreat and come back rosy cheeked and productive. And while your competitors are stuck in their old ways, you have the time to experiment, innovate and advance! Your mindset is your only handicap!

Post Approved for publishing by Prince Charming, M1.0 feedback pending. What about you?

-What is Live Tweeting?

– It is a lot like Live TV transmissions or Live Radioshows, only on Twitter.


But , you’ll say that everyone is Live Tweeting, and you are right because Twitter is all about the NOW. But you need to think of Live Tweeting as a live transmission of some football championship or a Miss World pageant, per se. It has to do with live coverage of a certain event by tweeps through tweets.

So why would you* Live Tweet ?

1- For Advanced and Compact Note-taking

Live tweeting seemed very natural to me, being a multi-tasker by nature, it is very hard for me to concentrate on one thing. So concentrating on a talk, while tweeting, helps me concentrate better on both.  But not everyone is as screwed as me, I know. So think about it this way. If you watch Oprah, you’ll notice Oprah sometimes repeats several times tips, ‘aha moments’, conclusions, main idea during the talk show to direct the conversation and concentrate the viewer’s attention. In that context, livetweeting is the equivalent of bullet-point summarizing an event. But instead of using pen and paper, you now have the ability to do that online, while sharing it with everyone who is interested in ”what are you doing right now” – your twitter followers. Which brings us to the next reason to live tweet.

2- For Personal Branding

When you are at an event, especially a conference, you hold access to privileged information. Afterall, there are a maximum of 2,000 people at this event, sharing the same experiences with you at that moment. As we are in the ME, a maximum of a 100 (very optimistically) of these might be tweeting about it. How many people are out there who want to know what is happening at this event? How many are tracking the event’s hashtag? How many searching this event on Google? How many people will RT a clever idea, a quote or a remark you beam from the trenches? By providing quality ( content is king at all times) exclusive information, you are not only tweeting to your followers, you are tweeting to everyone interested in the event/subject. Are you seeing the implications of this: the greater number of followers/blog readers you will get, the people at the event who will want to meet you, the grateful organizers who you can now ask for a favor….

And after a series of live tweets of various events, you will have complete authority in the community on the subject matter(s) you’ve covered, but not only that, they will be grateful to you for sharing your experience and dedicating your time to making them a part of it , their own Prometheus. In short, “Sharing is caring!” and caring in the Social Media world is always recompensed in tenfold.

{Not to mention that some events now provide free entrance to live bloggers and live tweeters}

3- To Promote Your Event (During the Event)

Here’s something I learned from the queen of  twitterEven if you do not have one follower on twitter, even if no one in your niche knows what twitter is, you can still harness its power. You can summarize the key points of your event as it happens, you can post photos of your event live and display your whole twitter stream on YOUR event’s website.

Did I hear someone say: “What if my customer / target group does not visit the website, is not computer literate?”

Well if worst, comes to worst, besides advising you to find a job in a web 2.0 savvy industry, I am going to tell you two things. One, it is always hard to be the pioneer, but you will leverage the greatest benefits. Sooner or later everyone will be online, be it on twitter or any other en-mode platform. But now you have the advantage of learning the rules of engagement, and experimenting with social media limitlessly, something you will not be able to do in the future. ans second, if for nothing else, once your event is over, you will need to have a good old press release or or your newsletter (printed or online). And the summary of all the tweets about your event ( be it yours, or your community’s)is not only a good place to start gathering your thoughts, but also a good appendix to your press kit (all of which is a part of traditional media) . And third… well I was going to talk about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) again, but then I remebered you are still in Web -1 so ask me about it when you catch up!

There is not one resource, more powerful than twitter for spreading word of mouth, and that is what marketers dream day and night about, isn’t it? So Why not use it and leverage it, after all, it is also FREE!

4- To measure an event’s success

As I said, everyone needs to be concerned about word of mouth, and your real estate space on the web. By announcing an event hashtag prior the event, provide a live-tweets stream on your site displaying all tweets with your hash tag, reply to all questions and comments, learn from positive and negative feedback… then you are on the right track. It has become customary to evaluate and event’s reach, success through evaluating the volume, quality of tweets during and after it.

Simply: Tweets = Publicity = Brand Equity

5-To promote your business in the context of the event

If you are just attending/visiting an industry related event or venue, on behalf of your business / personal brand, you can tweet about things that are in context of what your company does around the subject of the event. Let us say your company sells Ceramic tiles. “Twitter and Ceramic Tiles?! !” – say you? Well you go to Italian Exhibitions about Ceramic Tiles, don’t you? Do your customers know that? Wouldn’t they want to know what kind of tiles you are going to buy for your new collection, what are the tile trends this season, what colors/materials are in? Wouldn’t they want to see some photos? Wouldn’t they want to share this with others who want to buy tiles, change their home decor, interested in interior design?

And now tell me, wouldn’t that enhance YOUR company’s image as a point of reference and an expert in YOUR  field?

As I mentioned, Live Tweeting has always felt very natural to me, but what has inspired me to write this post  was the launch of livetweeting.com today for the live broadcasting of LeWeb to the Arab world. Livetweeting is the 1st Arab Live Tweeting Platform with Crowd-sourced Translation to and from Arabic.

” A group of live tweeters will be covering the event in its Native Language, for example English, and at the same time multi-lingual tweeters will crowdsource translation of the coverage to a second language, for example Arabic. All that will be presented in real-time on LiveTweeting.com.”

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* as a marketer , someone who is online for networking or building their personal brand

* you may also want to check some tips for livetweeting

bowling throw

My friends Social Media Marketing may still be fresh in the Middle East, but Social Media Activism is ON!

This Wednesday you have a chance to attend the first Fun(d)raising event that aims to raise money for buying toys for underprivileged children!

All you have to to is come to Link Antellias (starting 6:30 pm and seeping through) and indulge in bowling, darts, air hockey, arcades…. and much more. But , of course, you can go an extra mile and bring your own toys, which you are willing to part with, as well as craft materials and drawing supplies.

And all the procedes will go to funding Christmas gifts for needy kids. You can RSVP through the Funraising Facebook or Twitter events pages. If you can’t make it, you can still support the cause by Sporting a funraising banner on your site or blog, or donating some new or used toys to the little ones (pick up of the toys will be arranged :).

But what is really remarkable about Fun(d)raising is the way this initiative has started and grown in literally three weeks, proving that online social activism and collaboration are a reality! Fun(d)raisers are a group of bloggers and other social media natives that came together through social media channels and a very enthusiastic call from Mireille to make it a reality. And anyone can join in and contribute with whatever he does best!

So come and bring your friends with you! If you can’t live without your internet connection, don’t worry, same will be made available on the spot, and you can provide full media coverage! Plus Funraising will be providing complete transparency, through blogging about all the contributions and documenting the donations.

I have been practicing, our swings this weekend, so come and face your fiercest bowling adversary! Would be great to meet all of you guys there!

P.S. I apologize for my online absence, though I am still active on twitter, anything needing creative exertions and work, is proving to be impossible. New developments in my life are emotionally draining, though all well worth it!

patrick semaan logo Patrick is a dream guest blogger, he is someone a host blogger can only dream of. And as promised, he has made a come back and is answering all your questions about blog advertising. Also don’t forget to check out Patrick’s latest project the Gift Cheat Sheet,  that is available for free download, and follow him on twitter.


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The amazing guys at Spot On PR conducted a thorough study of the MENA Tweeps and came up with a detailed MENA Twitter Demographics & Stats Survey (press link to check it out).  And in the spirit of Social Media Marketing and Sharing Spot On PR have released their report to be copied, tweeted, quoted and perused in any way you may wish. Thank you Spot On PR!

It wasn’t surprising that 40% of MENA twitter users are from the UAE, however, with such a great cultural diversity it would be interesting to find a more microscopic dissection of these users, I am sure that would lead  to very curious results.

Another interesting thing is how the age distribution differs from global trend. For instance, the 15-19 make one of the largest Twitter user groups worldwide, but has only a small percentage in the MENA scene, which is prevailed by those 20-29.  Which I have found quite refreshing, as you get to twitter in a community of tech savvy professionals, which is a challenging and learning experience.

Twitter influence is growing in the MENA region, Spot On PR have mentioned that only in Augustthe total number of Twitter users from MENA region has increased by 17%.

 

Marketers, are you ahead of the curve?

* According to Spot On PR statistics may still be fuzzy due to the limited geographical tracking the Twitter platform offers at the time.

** as a show of good faith follow Spot On PR’s Blog & follow them @spotonpr.

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