As traditions pivot and platforms evolve, advertisers must revisit their assumptions and practices on social media, says OMG MENA’s Anthony Nghayoui.
As we head towards the third Ramadan since the global pandemic, and with most places in the world starting to get back to some sort of ‘normalcy’, it appears that Covid-19 won’t necessarily be a major disruptor to our day-to-day. Which means that this year we’re expecting in-person gatherings and last-minute in-store gift shopping. People will opt for online shopping due to its convenience, not because they have to. To many, social media will remain a pillar in their celebration, connecting with family and friends on Snapchat or expressing themselves creatively on TikTok. Brands that want to tap into the Ramadan conversation should stay on top of their social game and get even closer to their platforms by taking these three steps.
1. Study the users
Refamiliarise yourself with each platform’s users and their overlap with your target audience. Drop your assumptions, and don’t hesitate to dig into audience analytics for a demographic refresh. While youngsters are probable early adopters of emerging social networking apps, pay attention to how each has evolved to attract a broader demographic. For instance, more than 45 per cent of addressable TikTok users in the UAE today are 25-to-34-year-olds.
Look out for yearly Ramadan surveys, carried out by market researchers and social media companies, for fresh insights for the Holy Month on which to base your social media tactics. Aim to uncover those insights at least one month before Ramadan, as your audience expects to hear from you while they start getting into the mindset.
2. Craft the brand experience
People use social media to enhance their Ramadan experience; they become more open to connecting with brands and expect relevant and inclusive brand messages. According to a Meta survey, many people who observe Ramadan in Saudi Arabia dedicate the first part of the month to introspective activities like self-improvement and new routines. They become action-oriented, partaking in community service and shopping for Eid, later in the month. Such insights allow brands to demonstrate their authenticity and empathy as advertisers synchronise their campaigns with their audience’s state of mind and deliver timely messages.
Ramadan is a time of self-expression, and brands need to facilitate that on social. A Snapchat survey suggests that 33 per cent of Snapchat users increase their usage of AR lenses and filters during Ramadan. This, along with TikTok’s branded hashtag challenge, offers robust solutions for brands to create buzz and be part of the Ramadan conversation.
Social platforms are racing to broaden their ad offering and introducing formats where user numbers are multiplying. In 2021, we saw TikTok roll out Spark Ads and Dynamic Ads, and Meta pilot ads within IG Reels. Ad solutions like Twitter Amplify and Snapchat’s ads in the Discover section are an excellent way for brands to get associated with their audience’s favourite premium Ramadan publishers.
Pick the solutions that deliver your desired experience while ensuring that historical performance metrics – your CPMs and CTRs – meet your marketing goals. Ramadan is a period of fierce competition on digital advertising and the cost of ad delivery could rise way above the yearly average.
3. Master the operations
Platform expertise involves knowing the inner working of ads management tools. Understand the auction and how each platform optimises its delivery. Differentiate between rule-based and AI-based ad serving and break down or bundle up your audience segments accordingly. Get up to speed with the latest platform best practices to maximise your advantage in this competitive season.
Knowing each platform’s measurement solutions before launching a campaign can have considerable advantages. Measurement sets a feedback loop to inform real-time optimisation and helps derive learnings for future Ramadan media plans. Want to understand the impact of a campaign on brand favourability? Consider a BLS solution. Curious to know if your ads are being looked at? Work with measurement partners that can report on attention metrics. Want to record conversions in cookie-less environments? Look into platforms and measurement partners that support conversion APIs.
By taking these three steps, advertisers will recalibrate their social strategies for the upcoming Ramadan and stand out above their competition. This means seeing every step through with a deep dive into each platform’s specifics, keeping an eye out for trending topics that will emerge on social media throughout the month, and taking actions in a timely manner. Though it is convenient in this time of tradition to revert to previous approaches, advertisers must consider Ramadan with intellectual humility, forego assumptions and keep learning.
This article was first published in Campaign Middle East