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Learn and anticipate – by Twitter’s Antoine Caironi

Twitter’s head of revenue - MENA, Antoine Caironi, looks back and forwards to see what brands can take from the past and build on in the future on his social channel

Over the past year we have witnessed human connection drive hyperconnectivity, exacerbated in the year that followed intermittent lockdowns across the globe. This has enabled brands in the region to capitalise on leveraging these communities at key points throughout the annual marketing calendar, both planned for and not.

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2022 celebrated Founding Day, Ramadan and Jeddah Season, with Saudi National Day and the 2022 FIFA World Cup still to come, and in a year of significant cultural moments in Saudi Arabia, moments such as these are expected to drive conversations. Through these conversations, people on Twitter will continue to shape Saudi culture.

But what does this mean for advertising, and for marketers in particular? It’s simple. More opportunities to drive impact for their brand by connecting with their audiences around breakthrough moments. Albeit with more planning to drive success. By looking at successful campaigns from past moments, we can better understand what’s likely to happen in the future.

Learn from the past

#SaudiFoundingDay. In February 2022, Saudi Arabia celebrated this key date for the first time, following its introduction announcement in January, yet, despite limited time to prepare for it, key brands jumped on the opportunity to connect with their audience on Twitter. For instance, @Saudi_Airlines took a unique approach when joining the conversation. The airline launched a hero video that celebrated the Saudi spirit, alongside a competition to drive engagement, reinforcing the brand’s patriotic message and tying into present day domestic flight offerings. The campaign generated over 3.8 million video views and thousands of retweets with heartfelt messages from the audiences across Twitter.

Another extremely important Connect moment in Saudi Arabia, for the country, people and brands, was #SaudiNationalDay. Through an insights survey we discovered that 46 per cent of respondents believe National Day celebrations are more special on Twitter vs other platforms. 69 per cent believe it’s important for local brands to communicate on Twitter around the occasion, further highlighting the necessity for marketers and brands to connect with audiences around key cultural moments.

Seasonal periods can also be leveraged as Connect moments. For example, summer is a key moment of the year for travel and tourism, and as the summer months approached, Saudi Tourism Authority
(@VisitSaudiAR) identified an opportunity to re-ignite an appetite for travel, placing Saudi Arabia on the destination map. Through combined creative video content with Twitter’s Trend Takeover+, the campaign highlighted the country’s diverse landscapes and tourism offerings, generating 68 million impressions, 22 million video views and 350,000 clicks, and exceeding expectations with video views surpassing the benchmark by 83 per cent.

Through Twitter, there is also an opportunity for brands to tap into the conversation during unforeseen cultural moments. A key example was Twitter’s #FeminineArabic campaign, which saw Twitter become the first platform to offer a new feminine language setting in Arabic. Mastercard Middle East and Africa
(@MastercardMEA) built on the moment with its ‘Priceless’ proposition. Focused on Mastercard’s inclusion proposition, the brand launched a phased campaign that promoted its own inclusion narrative while including audiences within the conversation. By asking followers to share stories of how women in their lives have positively influenced them, as well as their favourite feminine Arabic words, the campaign garnered over 19.8 million Tweet impressions, 6.6 million video views and 309,000 engagements.

Anticipate the future

The outlook for the year ahead is centred around the need for brands to connect with cultural moments even earlier, and 2022 is expected to be a year unlike any other with a range of cultural moments yet to come. People are looking for brands to own key moments. This means engaging audiences before big moments are happening and not just on the day itself. (Also, this is more cost-efficient, which I am sure will resonate at a time where ROI is looked at closer than ever.) For example, Saudi National Day will take place on September 23, and we expect brands to start owning it as early as the second week of September, when conversations start to peak.

This is particularly important for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which kicks off in the final quarter of the year and is guaranteed to be of interest across MENA. Since the start of 2022, the country has seen a rise in Tweets about football, highlighting an opportunity for marketers and brands to lead conversations surrounding the topic, tapping into fans across Saudi Arabia. In the lead up to the event, brands should take advantage of those leaned-in football audiences, mapping football-specific content in the months ahead to own the narrative and position themselves at the heart of World Cup conversations ahead of time.

Culture plays an integral role in defining us as individuals. As a collective society, cultural dynamism has never been stronger in Saudi Arabia than today, unravelling compelling opportunities for brands and marketers, with Twitter at its core. So much remains to be done – Bring it on 2022.