Dubai - In UAE blogging community is well respected and a force to be reckoned with
As a seasoned spa operator, we regularly use print media, radio and social media to get our message across. A certain agility is needed in maintaining a balance and getting the best out of all three. Some of these platforms are increasing their footfalls markedly but not necessarily at the expense of traditional media outlets. On the contrary, both the avenues work well in tandem. While the new technologies and the reach from social media networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as well as the harnessing of bloggers are helping to pass the message effectively, authoritative and well written pieces in newspapers and magazines still attract loyal and discerning readers. Here in the UAE, we have found radio to be very effective as well for getting our messaging across. As we have navigated the Information Highway looking for the cutting edge I notice that hash-tagging is now an art and a science. It is the signposting that can be used to good advantage and I have seen it is one of the fastest ways to create awareness about the brand and highlight the various promotions attached to that specific brand.
By the same token in a limited and local capacity I have been very supportive of using these platforms to access and bond with relevant groups who have common purpose. They could be mothers, athletes, businesspeople, expatriates, entrepreneurs, travellers (the list is comprehensive) and they can be approached and communicated with collectively or targeted specifically depending on the news angle.
Let me just come back to the aspect of bloggers. Contrary to the initial assumption that bloggers were people with a grudge or a chip on their shoulders there is now a recognition that they reflect a wide range of opinion and project angles on issues that would not have seen the light of day. Bloggers can be brilliant in their writings and any organisation that can create its network of amateur writers and use their acumen, their knowledge and their opinions as measures of market trends can only do well by this. If the conventional media has any competition it is from bloggers who, as a tribe, have begun to win followers and loyalty often in the thousands and, through that fan base, become authorities on issues. As a result, their sites are now important because they do form public opinion. Over 34 million blogs come over the Internet every month and here in the UAE the blogging community is well respected and a force to be reckoned with. We had a well-known blogger review our spa in Abu Dhabi recently and saw a 10-15 per cent increase in bookings.
With all these exciting developments we have come a long way from a message in a bottle. But with data flung at us in massive amounts we also have to be careful in sifting it and ensuring that the information we use is authentic, checked out and not fraudulent. For us the biggest fear in this deluge is the fear of plagiarism by the competition. It is well nigh impossible now for any current marketing strategy blueprint to ensure originality. This is a major factor and one that social media has to address by self-policing its ranks.
At this moment in time we still need the print media because its reach and its reputation for veracity count for a lot. The chemistry of holding something tangible in your hands, be it a newspaper or a magazine is still a textural must for enough of our clientele to factor in this option when working out our yearly advertising budget.
Will it change? Depends on how long it takes for the corporate world to be able to estimate the impact of online advertising vis a vis its cost. Only when there is a clear yardstick of the investment to returns equation will social media become a singular alternative.
In the interim as we continue to reach out to our clients and share our messages we do find we have to deal with another set of corporate issues. These are largely procedural, involve contractual commitments, the sourcing of reliable and competent staff, visa problems and updating trade licenses, the paperwork being integral to smooth running of a company.
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