For many years, the sole role of the internet in the Middle East has been mainly to give people access to information; however, in the last few years, the medium has truly transformed how people in the region connect and engage with one another.
While the web has facilitated a more open and transparent dialogue between nations, it has also given birth to some pretty interesting controversies. One such issue that has been thrust into the limelight is the way that social media has been used to manipulate and fake news sway the opinions of voters in the region. While it’s true that a lot of the trending topics on social media are designed to push propaganda and ignite tensions, it’s also true that a lot of the topics are just funny memes or images that make you laugh or bring a smile to your face. This is why it’s so important to be discerning in what information and data you choose to believe and what you deem as fake news.
The implications of this are profound. Not only is the internet allowing people to have access to information that would otherwise have been restricted to a select few, but it is also acting as a megaphone that can be used to broadcast and amplify any message, regardless of whether that message is true or not.
The reason this is significant is that, in many parts of the world, especially the Middle East, people have been sheltered from the real issues facing the world. In fact, many have only ever known one news story: the initial response to the 9/11 attacks. For years after that, people in the region only knew of the horrors that unfolded as a result of those vicious acts. While there have been other crises in the region—including the 2014 outbreak of Ebola among the Saudi Arabian people—the internet and social media have largely kept the information in-house. This has created the perfect breeding ground for fake news, as people are more prone to believe what they read on the internet than they are to listen to the news broadcasts that have previously been crafted to suit the needs and wants of those in power.
As a marketer, this is important to bear in mind because a lot of the ‘news’ that you see trending on social media is curated from content shared by influential people and companies. These are the type of people and companies that have an interest in pumping out content that will attract and retain readership. When you peel back the layers and examine the nature of this content, you will often find that it is entirely fabricated.
Knowing how to recognize and combat fake news will become essential for anyone working in the online marketing field.
Who to Use?
If you’re looking for a company to handle your online marketing in Saudi Arabia, the good news is there are a number of high-quality options available, many of which offer a single-click buying solution to streamline the shopping experience. As a consumer, this is important to keep in mind because, as we’ve established, a lot of the news stories that make you laugh or evoke a strong emotional response are often the ones that are designed to appeal to you as a person or as a buyer. Remember: people in the Middle East are some of the most influential consumers in the world. They have the power to choose any brand and influence other individuals, companies, and governments to follow their lead.
The most significant factor to consider when choosing an agency to help your business grow in the Middle East is the team behind the company. One of the most important things to consider is the nationality of the people working there. As we’ve established, many of the people in the Middle East have a significantly different opinion about, and relationship with, foreigners than they do with other Arabs or with their own countrymen. If you’re a foreigner working in the Middle East, you could face some significant cultural barriers. This will impact your ability to connect with your customers, particularly if you’re not used to dealing with cultural nuances and unexpected reactions to your every move (or question).
The best option for online marketing agencies in the Middle East is one that has a strong cultural and linguistic connection to the country. For example, the UK’s W3C group specializes in improving the usability of websites in the Arab world. One of the ways they do this is to employ local webmasters from across the region to ensure that the content that is created is easily accessible to users in the Middle East. This is important because, historically, a lot of the content that is created for the web is available in English, which is the preferred language of those in power and influence in most countries in the Middle East. Only recently has content become available in local languages, such as Arabic or Turkish.
The benefit of this is that, when users from the Middle East visit your website or engage with your social media channels, they not only have access to content that is relevant to them, but they also have the opportunity to read or hear words and phrases that are familiar to them. This makes a difference in terms of connecting with and engaging with users in the Middle East. When a website focuses on a single nationality and fails to take the linguistic barrier into consideration, it can quickly lead to a disconnection between the business and its customers, no matter how talented the sales team is.
Aside from the potential disconnection with customers that we’ve discussed, there is also the issue of trust. When people are constantly being bombarded with ‘fake news’ on social media, it becomes difficult for them to know where to place their trust. Even when an article or news broadcast is authentic, people may still doubt its veracity because they have no context or understanding of the issues that it relates to. In an increasingly borderless world, where information can be accessed almost instantly, this can lead to a significant loss of trust.
Deciding Which One to Try
With so much uncertainty surrounding the veracity of sources, it’s important to proceed with caution before signing up with any SEO or digital marketing agency in the Middle East. While there are a number of high-quality agencies available, there are also a large number of low quality firms that seek to take advantage of businesses that are seeking to work in the region. To avoid falling victim to a scam, it is recommended that you proceed with caution until you can identify a reputable agency that has a good reputation in the industry. The following are some tips that can be useful in helping you identify a reputable agency that can help your business grow online:
Look for agencies that have a physical presence. If an agency is purely digital and operates solely from a laptop, you may find that there is a tendency for them to become less accessible during down periods. In most cases, a good agency will have some sort of a physical presence. This could be a shopfront that displays the name of the agency or a reception desk where an employee can speak with you individually about your project.
Look for agencies that have experience in the region. If you’re seeking to work in a specific country, such as Saudi Arabia, it is important to check that the agency you are considering working with has experience in the country. Even if you’re seeking to work remotely, you may find that there are certain regulations that you need to follow that can make things more difficult. For example, if you are seeking to work with an SEO agency in Saudi Arabia, it is important to make sure that they have experience in working with businesses in the country.
Check for reviews. If you’re seeking to work with an agency, it is important to take the time to do some research into their reputation. Thankfully, the internet makes this information easily accessible. Many agencies will have a Google page with reviews from previous customers. It is also a good idea to ask other agencies for references or speak with existing clients about their experience. When choosing an SEO or digital marketing agency, it is important to look for those that have a history of providing good value and quality work.
Check for certifications. Just because an agency has a physical location doesn’t mean that they are experienced or reliable. A lot of scammers and fly-by-night operations operate solely online. However, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have a lot of experience. In most instances, reputable agencies will be registered with recognized bodies such as the Better Business Bureau or the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. Having a registered name and physical address can help to provide additional confirmation of legitimacy to potential customers.
From the very beginning, we’ve discussed how the internet and social media have changed the way that people interact and form connections. Due to this, we’ve seen a rise in the popularity of online marketing and digital marketing agencies. More and more businesses are realizing the importance of having a presence on the web and of using platforms such as social media to gain credibility, build a community, and spread the word about their business.