Ahmed Dawood interview: Social skills

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When Ahmed Dawood spotted a gap in the market, he pounced. Seeing how reluctant companies were to take the leap into social media, he put his knowledge on the topic to good use and created a business which helps brands thrive in the digital age. He spoke to StartUp about Phenomena, and how it’s taking social marketing by storm.

 

Spotting a gap in the market takes a certain skill, but it’s by no means a guarantor of success. When you combine that skill with technical ability and business sense, however, you could say the results can be phenomenal.

This is just what happened for Ahmed Dawood, whose company Phenomena is providing businesses across the UAE with strategic social media campaigns, helping them thrive in a marketplace which is still relatively new to online marketing.

Born in the UAE but growing up in the USA until returning in 2010, Dawood explains how a job search led him to see how he could make a difference in the emirates.

“I had a few interviews lined up with some big companies when I came back here. When I was interviewing I tried to persuade them to be more socially active but the companies were a bit afraid to go social.

“I saw the gap and hence started Phenomena. This region really stands out with that gap and now I’m trying to close it.”

The lack of activity in digital areas alerted Dawood to the idea that his know-how could benefit a variety of industries in the UAE, as well as bringing it up to speed with other parts of the world.

He says: “We saw a big change towards the end of last year and there will be a bigger change during 2013. Companies are starting to see the need for social media. I always tell my clients that social media is like websites in the early 2000s. People said ‘who needs websites?’ but look now. It’s the same way with social media.

“If a company doesn’t have social media in five years time at the latest, it might not even exist.”

According to www.socialbakers.com, there are 3.41m Facebook users in the UAE, as well as 2.1m LinkedIn users, 305,000 Twitter users, and a fast-increasing number of Google+ users. With the Emirates recording 2.5m tweets per day, and the country counting nearly six million internet users among its population of 8.26m, online marketing is fast becoming one of the most important tools for any business.

The growing importance of social media marketing is not lost on the vast majority of companies in the UAE, and rather than a lack of desire to establish such an online presence, Dawood perceives that their reticence is born out of fear.

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