Digital Essays 2023: building brands in the digital age

Hashtag’s Amer Massimi shares insights he has gained on the influential role of social media channels in brand building

In the ever-evolving landscape of social media marketing, a decade feels like a lifetime of learning and growth. As the founder of a social media agency, I’ve had the privilege of witnessing the profound changes in the marketing field.

Among the many brands we now love are those that began their journey on Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Twitter, from global giants like Daniel Wellington, Fashion Nova, and Dollar Shave Club to regional gems like Namshi, MumzWorld and Giving Movement.

From social fame to mainstream glory: The saying goes “If you can make it on social, you can make it anywhere”. This adage holds true in the Middle East and beyond.

Success on social media isn’t just about having a presence; it’s about building an engaged audience that deeply resonates with your brand’s message.

Sharing features changed the game :  Social media’s sharing features have outshined traditional mainstream media. It’s like word of mouth on steroids, unfolding in real time.

Any noteworthy news can become a sensation within 48 hours, creating waves of awareness and driving consumer behaviour.

Consider the impact: one of our clients saw a video receive 1,000+ shares in just three hours, making it their most-viewed organic video on Instagram, rapidly connecting their fashion collection with their audience.

Testing the waters: What sets social media apart is its unique ability to facilitate rapid experimentation. It’s the ultimate playground for the lean startup philosophy.

Brands can test their ideas, products, and campaigns on a smaller scale and quickly gauge audience reactions. This immediate feedback loop allows businesses to fine-tune their strategies before taking the plunge into bigger steps.

Social media offers polls, different voting mechanisms in addition to comments and DMs that allows brands to get feedback with minimal effort.

A youthful population with digital savviness: The Middle East’s youthful demographic is not only tech-savvy but also deeply engaged with digital platforms.

In Saudi Arabia, 70 per cent of the population is under 30 years old. From Instagram to TikTok, these platforms are ingrained in their daily lives.

It’s where the attention lies and where brands should have a presence to connect to a changing media consumption.

Starting narrow, scaling smart: Social media platforms grant brands the unique advantage of starting with a narrow, specific audience. For startups, this is gold.

By targeting a niche group that aligns with your brand’s values and offerings, you can build a dedicated following.

If you succeed in engaging this initial audience, you can then consider expanding to mainstream media.

Established brands missing the train: Even well-established brands that underestimate the power of social media are missing a significant opportunity.

Social media isn’t merely a marketing channel; it’s a lifeline for staying relevant and engaged with your audience as consumer behaviour evolves.

It’s disheartening to see prominent brands ignoring the potential of maintaining an active presence on their Instagram or TikTok pages, missing out on valuable engagement and feedback.

The TikTok effect: TikTok’s unmatched reach and influence in the Middle East are undeniable. Brands consistently creating content on this platform can establish robust brand identities and reach vast audiences.

The “TikTok made me buy it” trend has been wiping products off the shelves, exemplifying the power of this platform.

The power of short video content: In the digital age, short videos have emerged as a dynamic tool for brand building. Platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels have given brands a creative canvas to convey their messages in seconds.

The concise yet impactful nature of short videos captures the fleeting attention spans of online audiences. With the right blend of creativity and storytelling, brands can leverage short videos to create memorable, shareable content that resonates with their target audience.

The ability to convey a brand’s essence in a matter of seconds makes this format an essential tool for modern marketers.

It’s a marathon, not a quick race: In the fast-paced world of social media, building a brand is a marathon, not a sprint. Success hinges on consistent content creation, unwavering engagement with your audience, and adaptability to evolving trends.

Seeking short-term results in the social world is a losing strategy; long-term commitment and strategy are the keys to triumph.

By Amer Massimi, CEO at Hashtag Social Media Agency