Eid and its cultural influence on social media and public relations
To say that public relations have changed would be a gross understatement, no word in the English language comes close to the metamorphosis of its functions. The way we communicate, our mediums, our audiences, and our message have evolved from its humble function of the distribution of news. It now encompasses an entire gamut of activities that define the tone of the brand in the market. With digital disruption and the advent of social media, it has seen a complete overhaul of its operations. As the communication between brands and its audience becomes more engaging and interactive, we see more qualitative factors at play. Behavioral patterns, preferences and cultural influences are an integral factor in the message of the brand. The Middle East, with its consumerist market and high internet penetration, is a prime example of how social media, cultural influences, and public relations converge. Especially evident during festivals like Eid, the market is replete with promotions, campaigns and social media posts that draw on the high wave of festivity to boost their image and sales. The UAE is a unique market as it is as global as traditionally rooted. In markets where culture is so ingrained in its social fabric, it is detrimental for a brand to not take account of this factor.
Putting the social in social media
People are at the very crux of both public relations and social media. Their lives impact both functions greatly. It is no surprise then that at the onset of the festival season, especially a festival as significant as Eid, we see a flurry of activity, especially in the Middle East. We see marketers beckoning to the consumer with campaigns designed to encourage the purchase of high-value products. Considered auspicious by many, the cultural influences of the festival heavily impact certain products. Jewelry, apparel, food are the prime markets affected by the festival season. Discounts, special offers or even new collections mark Eid to induce greater sales. There is aggressive interaction with the people through posts that increase in number and frequency. In the UAE market, which is already consumer-driven, there is intense competition for brands to capture the festival fervor.
Not just numbers
Festivals like Eid have a cultural and social significance that goes beyond its impact on the sales of a brand. It gives the marketers to utilize the cultural influence of the festival to create a deeper connection with the audience. In UAE, Eid is a time for family and acts as a community-building measure. Families dine together, people engage in social and charitable acts. All this gives Eid a deeper layer than being only a festival. Its religious significance aside, it has become a day when the entire community comes together as one to celebrate a special day. Public relation professionals in the Middle East must understand this and use the festival to include the brand as a participant in the consumer’s celebrations. A strategy that has an equal focus on the spirit of Eid and not just on increasing sales will go a long way in building intimacy with the brand.
Culture defines people, people define your brand
The trinity of public relations, cultural influences, and communication draws from a fundamental fact. The way of life of a group of people is greatly affected by their culture. Hence, it also has an impact on their purchase decisions as well as their sensibilities. How you market to them, thus, becomes as important as what you market. Based on their inherent traits, each market views your
message through a cultural lens that is unique to their region. This is especially true in the case of social media where people will be quick and sometimes, ruthless, to point out your mistakes. As they share and like, a small post could derail your campaign. A brand is thus, only as good as its last post. In the Middle East in general and the UAE, in particular, festivals like Eid are a chance for brands to display their understanding of the market by creating campaigns that capture the cultural influences.
The shift in focus from product to market
There is a shift in the public relation and social media strategy during a festival as significant as Eid. The thrust of the campaign shifts from being centered around the product or the brand and shifts to the festival itself. It is all about integrating the brand into the larger scheme of things. The posts on social media will focus less on the product features and more on how the product can become a part of the festival celebrations. In public relations, there will be more activity around the festival with soft pieces as opposed to simply promoting the brand or its product launches. In the Middle East, we must appreciate that festivals are an integral part of the cultural fabric. Hence, promotion during this period is futile if it does not include the cultural influences that come with it.
The Middle East market is a melting pot of cultures and is known for being rooted in its traditional values while leading the way in modernity. The festival season is a prime example of how deeply ingrained its values are. It is a deeply religious and joyous event. With the buoyant state of the market, it is no wonder that marketers want to capitalize on the spirit in favor of their brands. The UAE is already a consumerist market and the festival further enhances that aspect. This makes the season more lucrative. Whether it is social media, traditional public relations or even designing the campaign, the cultural undertones of the market should be a driving factor. This helps the audience engage with the brand on an emotional level. With the right campaign and offers, it could give the brands a chance to make a significant impact on their sales in a short period of time.