During my regional roadshow tour to Lebanon, I was very excited about hearing and experiencing the budding social media scene in Beirut. Like many countries in the Middle East, I found that the use of social media in Lebanon has become a hot bed of creativity and bravery as both brands and companies are starting to experiment with social as a real driver of business.
Over the past decade internet usage has doubled in the country, creating a large network of people who use social on a daily basis. In actual fact almost half the country are actively engaging on social every day! That’s amazing for a country which just 14 years ago had a tiny connected population of just 5.8% on the internet and now there is 52% of the population connected and communicating.
Lebanon is one of the top 5 leading countries on social media in the Middle East. Interestingly, what Lebanese people like to download first and foremost is music and I think that this is a very useful insight for brands trying to connect with Lebanese consumers – use the power of a great tune. It really might help lift your content be relevant and interesting for your target market.
Facebook and Twitter are still very powerful platforms in this country. The total number of Facebook users is 1.7 million (Facebook 2014) and Twitter accounts for approximately 251,000 active users (Twitter 2014).
One of the most interesting brands I came across using social media to drive real business value in Lebanon is Sayfco holding.
How do they do it? Well the real-estate giant from Lebanon has 3.2 million fans worldwide on Facebook and invests heavily in its Facebook community spending up to $3m a year on Facebook advertising. Why? Because they increased the sales of their units from 4 to 200 every month! If you are not convinced about the efficacy of social to sell just talk to Sayfco!
It appears the Lebanese are a romantic bunch with this year’s Valentines being a truly social occasion with many a potential suitor or hopeful sweetheart taking to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share their true love with the world. I think this sums up the great passion the Lebanese people have and its infectious ability to create real social moments and movements.
You just need to take a look at the recent, Strip for Jackie campaign in Beirut which became a huge social trend after people took to social media to display their outrage at how their national sportswoman was being treated. Check out their I am not naked Facebook page. Several key influencers and bloggers expressed their solidarity with Jackie Chamoun and started campaigning on Facebook, Twitter and on Instagram as #iamnotnakedleb.
Amongst the conversations driven around hashtags and semi-nude photos, various commercial brands have gone topless in a show of solidarity for the Lebanese skier. Almaza, Exotica, Absolut Vodka and even VolksWagen stripped for Jackie.
It seems that Lebanese brands have a good understanding of real time marketing as last week they made a comeback supporting #Kafa #NoLawNoVote and its race to pass a bill that protects women from domestic violence
Whilst doing my roadshow I love to chat to key influencers, bloggers about what they’re seeing on social in their markets and someone who attended the roadshow was Anthony Rahayel from No Garlic No Onions.
No Garlic No Onions is incontestably Lebanon’s number 1 food blog, inviting you, through the lens and taste buds of his owner, to discover local and international culinary creations. Anthony invests in beautiful photography and utilizes Instagram to document his gourmet trips in real time. Apparently we literally gave Anthony some other kind of food for thought! “I loved the roadshow; it tickled my brain for some new ideas” – Anthony Rahayel – No Garlic No Onions
Amazingly on my flight to Beirut, I was privileged to sit next to Sarah Beydoun, the creative genius behind Sarah’s Bag. She noticed that I was making the finishing touches to my presentation deck and shared with me her own personal experience of the power of social. She looks to Instagram as a really powerful, digital web store which helps her sell her handbags.
As a designer she clearly already has a great eye and the content on her Instagram page is stunning. She understands the importance of beautiful visual content on Instagram and when she posts a new design it often sells out within 24 hours. I found this story to be a great example of how entrepreneurs are using Instagram as an effective virtual shop window.
During my time conducting the regional roadshow I met many passionate people who completely understand the value of social and how it can drive real business outcomes. I am excited about the possibilities we have in this market and I am looking forward to seeing some truly great social experiences and award winning work coming out of this highly creative and exciting market.