Qatar is one of the most internet connected countries in the Middle East region. Recent times have witnessed the tremendous rise in popularity and influence of Twitter and Facebook services. In fact, social media has become so popular within the peninsula in that it has transformed the way people and brands interact with each other and engage their audiences.
The growth of social media in Qatar has been amazing, both in terms of the number of sites and the number of people who uses them. The best of these are entertaining as well as informative and keep up to date with all the happenings in the country.They enhance our viewpoints, provide us a platform to interact with the like & unlike minded as well as engage our creativity by addressing a large audience.
85% of households in Qatar are connected via broadband (gone up by 5% from 2010) . And according to the Boston Consulting Group’s e-Friction Index, on average, a Qatar household owns three mobile phones, two computers and one smartphone. Qatar tops the MENA region with the least hurdles to internet access and use and on a global level, Qatar ranks 23rd, outperforming several of the world’s strong emerging economies.
This exceptional growth of social media ultimately reflects people’s desire to connect with each other around common interests. Some of the best government and private organizations in the country take advantage of these platforms to engage citizens, residents and tourists alike with awareness campaigns, news & updates, contests, activities and more. The most popular social media pages in the country include consumer brands such as Qatar Airways and QNB, which each have well over a million ‘likes’ on Facebook.
Qatar has also seen a significant increase in the number of students who engage in social networking sites.As these platforms provide a better learning environment for educators, it gives a host of new opportunities for collaborative learning.
Our special Social Media 2013 – 14 awards feature aimed at exploring some of the trends in social media usage in the country & how it has forever changed the way various organizations interact with people.
Apart from the Readers Awards for Extraordinary Achievement in Social Media, three categories had been announced for the awards namely -
1) The Qatar Chronicle Award for Most Active University/School on Social Media with Qatar University, Carnegie Mellon Qatar and Texas A & M Qatar being nominated.
2) The Qatar Chronicle Award for Most Iconic Cultural Brand on Social Media with the Museum of Islamic Art, Doha Film Institute and Qatar Tourism Authority as the nominees
3) The Qatar Chronicle Award for Most Engaging Consumer Brand on Social Media for which Qatar Airways, Ooredoo and Vodafone Qatar were nominated.
The brands had been nominated on the basis of their social media activity, innovation in social media management and the manner in which they engage, inform and entertain fans and followers online.
And the winners are . . .
The Qatar Chronicle Award for Most Active University/School on Social Media – Congratulations Carnegie Mellon University !
Total Votes Won: 4281
Share of total votes polled: 49%
Carnegie Mellon University Qatar’s Facebook page, which was launched in 2008, currently have more than 503,112 fans. And its Twitter page has over 3000 followers. It’s YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn accounts are also popular among social media fans especially among students, future students and recent graduates.
Qatar has seen a significant increase in the number of students who engage in social networking sites as these platforms provide a better learning environment for educators. Educational institutions like Carnegie Mellon have wisely utilized this increase in engagement through a variety of social media channels to reach a variety of audiences.
The University’s social media pages provide its students with an opportunity to share their experiences along with timely and informative posts announcing news and upcoming events. The portals also share plenty of photos and video content related to university events, giving visitors a good look at what life’s like at Carnegie Mellon Qatar. The University also tasks their students as Social Media Ambassadors to share highlights and experiences, so that the content resonates well among current and future students.
“Social media has enabled the people in Qatar to engage with people from various cultures, religions and backgrounds… While Facebook and LinkedIn are popular across all of our audiences, Instagram and Twitter have been especially popular among young Qatari students. As a communication tool, social media levels the playing field between different people, fosters open dialogues, and breaks down cultural barriers. It also allows people with similar interests to connect, even if they’ve never met or live on different continents.” , commented Mr. Murry Evans of Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar.
“Engagement in social media will continue to increase, and social media platforms could change rapidly. For universities like Carnegie Mellon, that are known for innovation in education, it’s important to continually monitor trends and stay ahead of the curve”, he added.
Runners Up: Qatar University (28% vote share)
The Qatar Chronicle Award for Most Iconic Cultural Brand on Social Media- Museum of Islamic Art
Total Votes Won: 5246
Share of total votes polled: 48%
MIA, growing to be among the top ten museums on multiple social media platforms both regionally and worldwide, ventured into social media first in November 2011 with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts followed by Google+ and Instagram in 2012 and Flickr in 2013. MIA Facebook page currently have more than 766000 fans.
MIA’s social media strategy has been met with a very favourable response. The portals have built a strong following in the past two years. Their social media activity has seen a very consistent, high level of engagement with posts being frequently shared.
Understanding and gauging the interest of people of various nationalities in Qatar for Islamic Art worldwide, MIA’s social media accounts engage users with frequent posts on this subject. Realizing that localization is a key factor as well, the Museum’s social media pages post regular updates in Arabic as well.
“We are constantly engaging our audience through various social media channels to provide them with relevant museum related information. Our social media channels are one of the main points of contacts for visitors. We also use social media to drive traffic to our website where additional information is available. . . The relatively high uptake of social media in Qatar means that it will continue to play a significant role in the way people interact and communicate. MIA will be at the forefront testing new platforms to make our museum more accessible to Qatar and the World.”, an official from Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) told Qatar Chronicle.
Runners Up: Doha Film Institute (41% vote share)
The Qatar Chronicle Award for Most Engaging Consumer Brand on Social Media- Vodafone Qatar
Total Votes Won: 5442
Share of total votes polled: 39%
Social media has always been an important channel for consumer brands in Qatar to communicate with their customers. It’s important for consumer brands to respond quickly and effectively to all customers. Social media gives them a platform to listen to their customers, to crowdsource ideas, learn and make changes where necessary.
Vodafone Qatar is one of the most popular organizations in the country, which takes advantage of social media platforms to engage with people. Launched in 2009, its social media accounts have witnessed a rapid increase in the number of fans. Currently, its facebook page has 325,355 fans and its Twitter account has 46.9K. Timely care, support and sharing content that is relevant and valuable to the people, has made Vodafone Qatar one of the most loved social media pages in the country.
“There are a lot of companies that will outsource page management to a social media agency, but customers know when they receive a canned response so to ensure customer satisfaction it was important to us to provide care directly from the subject matter experts in our Award Winning call centre, which also includes Qatari specialists, who could actually provide first contact resolution for issues . . . In line with the “power to you” brand and the strength of social media, we look for relevant conversations where we can add value, and contribute to that conversation with content that will spark a conversation, interest a large group of people, or help solve customer problems. This approach seems to drive higher levels of engagement than posting marketing messages or copy” said Jonathan Donovan, Head of Online, Vodafone Qatar.
Vodafone Qatar has been uniquely innovative in using their access to technology to engage users with information about the latest phones, apps, mobile and smart city technology.
“We noticed that there was a real gap in the region when it comes to locally relevant smartphone phone and mobile related information especially in Arabic. Seeing this gap, and given that we have access to the latest phones in advance of launch and great relationships with tech experts from around the globe, this year kicked off a program of unboxing and review videos focusing on everything mobile, delivered in Arabic and English.” added Mr. Donovan.
Runners Up: Qatar Airways (38% vote share)
A Big Congratulations to all winners. Stay tuned for our Special Feature - Behind a Winning Strategy, where we find out what makes them Qatar’s Best Loved pages.
We would also like to thank our Dear Readers for making the first edition of the Qatar Chronicle Social Media Awards a big success.
Which brands/organizations do you think should be nominated for next year’s edition? Do let us know your thoughts by commenting below.