With Ramadan being just around the corner, brands in the Arab world, in general, and the Gulf region, in particular, adapt their marketing campaigns and Social Media strategies to target fans who will resort to their channels in greater numbers during the holy month.
Since Instagram is one of the fastest growing social media channels in the world, and the fourth most popular social network in the Arab world (source: Northwestern University in Qatar) , we have decided to tap into this mega social network and focus this week's blog post on Instagram's best practices for beauty and fashion brands in Saudi Arabia.
Significantly, we (virtually) sat down with a group of influential fashion, beauty, and lifestyle bloggers from Saudi Arabia and asked them to share with us their best practices and reveal some of their secrets on how to effectively reach today’s audience on Instagram, especially during the holy month. Drawing from their extensive personal experience on Instagram, below is a summary of their advices:
1- Themes & Content: Forget Everything you Know!
If your brand is still new to Instagram, we advise you to forget everything you have learned about your followers and online community in the past period and buckle up for a different kind of ride!
During this holy month, your content strategy on Instagram must be Ramadan-related or at least Ramadan-conscious in order to cater to your followers’ shift of interests during the holy month. According to Kuwaiti-Born Saudi-based lifestyle blogger, iGorgeousta, “followers’ interests change drastically during the holy month, as they become much more devoted to spiritual needs, praying and reading the Qur’an, being involved in charity work, and upholding the ties of kinship, amongst many others”.
Similarly, Saudi fashion and beauty blogger, Eleganza Bee, describes Ramadan as “as a blessed month of worship”. Taking into consideration the shift in her followers’ interests during that period, Eleganza aims to “dedicate a fair amount of her Instagram posts to give away Ramadan-related style tips and Eid wardrobe inspirations among other beauty and fashion related topics”.
In short, the blessed month of Ramadan represents a great opportunity for brands to veer away from unattractive, purely commercial content, and instead, humanise their brand and engage in meaningful conversations with their followers and online community. No matter what topic you choose to focus on, always remember to keep your content tailored specifically to your own audience during this time period and ensure before hitting that “share” button that what you are about to publish is appropriate and adds value to your followers’ life during the holy month.
2- Caption Length: Size is Everything!
When it comes to posting on Instagram, “less is more” argues Wala', owner of the Saudi Blog “Wala’ Hearts” that specialises in matters of fashion, travel, and beauty. Besides, the fact that during Ramadan your followers are aiming to spend most of their valuable time either involved in acts of worship or spending quality time with their family members and closed ones, they will also have to endure a little over 15 hours of fasting amidst the summer heat especially that the holy month of Ramadan coincides with summer this year. Therefore, the less text you put in the caption of your Instagram post, the better your chances are of having your followers engage with it. After all, “a great picture that adds value to your followers speaks a thousand words,” argues Wala’. However, Blogger expert, iGorgeousta, argues that sometimes long descriptive captions are a “must when reviewing a new product, or a service”. Hence, this Ramadan save those long captions to when you really need to describe a certain tip to your followers.
3- Post Timing: You Snooze, You Lose!
In Ramadan timing is everything. Therefore, ensure you align your publishing times with that of your audience to maximise engagement. Remember that during fasting, your online community is usually quieter conserving their energy for prayers and work or relaxation. Generally in the Middle East and parts of Asia, there is a high penetration social media peaks after 7 pm, which continues until 4 am (believe it or not), since people stay up all night worshiping or enjoying their time with family. According to lifestyle expert, iGorgeousta, “followers in KSA are mostly active two hours prior to breaking their fast, and then, after the evening prayer”. “To be more specific,” adds fashion blogger Wala’ Hearts, “Instagram mostly peaks after Taraweeh prayers and until daylight". So, if you are used to posting early in the morning and throughout the day, we suggest you shift your posting schedule accordingly during the month of Ramadan. Otherwise, you might run the risk of having low visibility, and by consequence, having low(er) engagement rates during that period on your Instagram account.
4- Posting Frequency: How Much is too Much?
Now that you know what type of content to publish, when and how to publish it, it is important to know how often you must publish content during the holy month. Studies show that engagement with brands is enhanced during Ramadan providing businesses with the ideal window to communicate with their followers and customers through social media. However, remember consistency is key here. It is recommended to post on a daily basis and try to maintain the same posting frequency throughout the days of the week. As long as you have valuable content to share, which relates to your brand and directly speaks to your online community during this blessed month, do not hesitate to share it. Drawing from her experience, fashion and beauty expert, Eleganza Bee, suggests posting "no less than 2 pictures/day", and recommends "a daily average of 4-5 pictures/day depending, of course, on the abundance and quality of the topics at hand”.
5- Get into the Ramadan Spirit: Time to Give Back a Little!
Ramadan is a month of spiritual cleanse, of sharing and generosity. It is also the month with the highest advertising and marketing spending of the year in the Arab world. Unfortunately, brands often fall into the mistake of portraying Ramadan as a month of “celebrating consumption,” and end up pushing commercial content onto their communities, rather than emphasising the true values and spirit of this blessed month. Without fully grasping the core messages and values of Ramadan, brands run the risk of delivering irrelevant brand messaging, which often repels their followers and translates into low engagement rates across their social media channels. Instead, brands should take the opportunity to participate in the local tradition and engage with their online community by presenting them with valuable content, efficient solutions, and meaningful experiences through tailor-made CSR campaigns, such as donating to charity on behalf of your customers, sponsoring meals, or supporting those less fortunate. By doing so, brands would gain the respect and trust of their followers, and also become active and influential shareholders in their community.
Finally, on behalf of everyone at Blue Hat, we would like wish all of our clients, stakeholders and followers a Blessed Ramadan. May this Holy month bring you the utmost in peace and prosperity.