Billing itself as the world’s first multilingual social network, has launched in the Middle East and hopes to take on the likes of Facebook by offering real-time translation to allow people to communicate without language barriers. Alibek Issaev, chairman of its parent company, Dudu Communications says, ‘The number of users of social media here is growing very fast. This is why we believe it’s the perfect time to launch our social network in Arabic countries.’ Sales and marketing director Hussam Khoury of the Middle East’s advertising network reports, ‘What we’ve seen is brands starting to use social media because they’ve realised it’s a personal interaction with the actual consumer.’

Use of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter enabled young people to organise and give momentum to the uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya earlier this year. In the Middle East and North Africa, the number of Facebook subscribers has doubled in the past year and there are 20 times as many active users of Twitter according to consultancy firm Value Partners. Almost 60% of companies now say they now have some sort of social media presence, according to a report by Econsultancy, well up on a year ago. However, companies are still allocating only a small element of marketing budgets to social media as it is seen as more difficult to track return on investment than with traditional advertising. (BBC, 25th October 2011)

The use of social media site YouTube has been a cornerstone of Hi-Tec’s promotional strategy. Hi-Tec is the global number two brand by sales value in the outdoor footwear market and uses innovative technologyto develop high quality leisure footwear which is well known amongst sport and walking enthusiasts. However, Hi-Tec determined to reposition the brand to a wider audience. It recognised the power of the internet in attracting a youth audience and developed a viral marketing campaign to reflect its ‘inspired by life’ proposition. This centred on a video ‘documentary’, showing young men apparently running on water. The video captured viewers’ imagination quickly and generated huge amounts of press coverage, blogs and even copycat runners on water! Over 10.7 million people have watched the video, opening up the brand to a worldwide audience.

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