How to Fail at Positioning your Brand on Social Media

I've spent the last two years working with brands in Dubai, particularly FMCG brands, and while social media isn't my speciality per se, it's pretty clear to me that brands in that part of the world are failing miserably when it comes to positioning themselves online.

Regardless of their identity and target demographic, every brand's Facebook page is filled with the same bland, unengaging content. Spot the difference puzzles and inoffensive stock images are ubiquitous. For some reason, most brands in the United Arab Emirates are struggling to engage meaningfully with their customers, despite the country's reputation as a forward-thinking media hub.

In my opinion, the issue arises from the UAE's uniquely diverse society - a staggering 87% of the population are immigrants, representing over 50 different nationalities. Unlike in countries with naturalised immigrant populations, there are almost no widely shared cultural norms to unite these disparate groups. The overwhelming range of deep-seated cultural differences in the UAE means that marketers, advertisers and content creators feel bound to appeal to the lowest common denominator. The lack of shared cultural touchstones makes that lowest common denominator very low indeed.

 By trying to appeal to everyone, you appeal to no one.

Anyone who knows anything about brand positioning knows that trying to be all things to all people is a recipe for failure, and that goes double when your audience is made up of so many groups that share very little common ground. This is borne out by the depressingly low engagement levels that many UAE brands experience on social media as a result of their one-size-fits-all approach. What's even more depressing is that this leads many UAE marketing managers to conclude that social media is a waste of time, money and effort, which only adds to their brand's online stagnation.

So, why do UAE brands fail at positioning themselves online? Quite simply because they don't have a position, or they don't effectively communicate and leverage the position that they do have. They allow themselves to be hamstrung by a misconception that social media must be fluff for the multinational masses, and by a crippling fear of failing to appeal to as many potential customers as possible.

Wales, by comparison, is much less culturally diverse, but even here businesses can fall into a similar trap. By trying to appeal to everyone, you appeal to no one. This is one of the many reasons that brand identity and positioning are so important - they allow you to make a clear distinction between what your business is and what it isn't. They allow you to cultivate a clear, consistent and engaging message that targets precisely those people with whom it will resonate most.

This is how strong brands and successful enterprises are forged, and it holds true for social media just as it does in any other context.



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