CEOs and online profiles in the Middle East – Chapter 3

Our exploratory journey through the top 100 CEOs in the Middle East, as defined by Trends Magazine and Insead in their Top CEO awards of 2016, continues apace as we step into the digital estate of 3rd place Mr Nasser Abdulrahman Rafi, CEO of Emaar Malls Group. Mr Nasser, welcome, we’ve been expecting you.

Without further ado let’s step into page one of a Google search for his name, and here it is:

Ashton and Ashton Mr Nasser Abdulrahman Rafi Emaar Malls Group CEO blog and online profile

I find particularly striking that the most popular/ relevant piece of content as deemed by Google (get in touch if you need more of an idea of how their algorithm works, as this whole exercise of reputation building and blogging is based upon Google’s selection) is a video from 2015, by Trends Magazine themselves no less. We are told repeatedly by the experts that video content is much more important than mere text, something I do agree with if done well. Where a content strategy anchored around video tends to fall down is due to investment (of time and budget), and the ability of a company to identify useful and insightful content that can be turned around in a timeframe that means the video is still relevant. In other words: is it evergreen?

There will be many factors at play as to why this ranks top out of everything Google can find on Mr Rafi, including:

  1. Content type – it is video and every channel, such sa Facebook, pushes video content to the top of feeds because people stay with it longer which means they can charge more in terms of advertising around it; Google also likes to include a content mix in search results wherever possible, such as images, videos, news, blog posts, social media chunks – bear this in mind when planning your content to dominate page one of Google and control your own brand.
  2. Author – the video was posted by Trends Magazine, an authority as a media outlet and an authority in the business world due to its annual CEO awards and relationship with Insead.
  3. Keywords and tags – clearly labelled with Mr Rafi’s name and title, making it easy to find and share.

Although it doesn’t have rthat many views, all the above elements add up to something Google has deemed useful to us as we search for “Nasser Abdulrahman Rafi”. And, to be fair, although it isn’t a recent video it is of interest in my humble opinion. It shows he is a human being and can talk to the camera without any issues.

Beyond the first result, we have a collection of images and media interviews. Unfortunately, as for our CEO in Chapter 2, we also have a LinkedIn result which links to the wrong man. A little more detective work into LinkedIn, by far my personal favourite after blogging for boosting your online reputation, and we find a basic profile but a profile nonetheless. I am not surprised Google didn’t pick up on it as it did not include the middle search term “Abdulrahman”. It lists an impressive series of leadership roles but is lacking a photograph which to me means literally it is a faceless profile. One reason for my undertaking this survey is to discover how many leading CEOs are in fact showing their real face in public.

There are many other great profile pieces in the media on the rest of page one of Google, even some social media links to the top-listed video, but we are lacking a couple of paragraphs from the CEO himself, an insight into what challenges make him get out of bed every day. A small ask and for something that many communicators would deem too trivial for a leading regional CEO. But an ask nonetheless.

 

CEOs and online profiles in the Middle East – chapter 2

Coming in at second place in the Winners List compiled by Trends Magazine and Insead, we find Mr Ali Mohammed Ali Al-Obaidli from Ezdan Holding Group. As is my wont I like to do a basic Google search to see how his reputation is shaped by the world’s online filing cabinet. Let’s take a look:

Ashton and Ashton Mr Ali Mohammed Ali Al Obaildi Ezdan Holding Group CEO blog and online profile

And what does Google reveal? That the best piece of content associated with him is from 2014, an arms-length profile piece positioning Mr Ali Al Obaidli and Ezdan Holding Group comfortably as leaders in construction and real estate in Qatar, with a growing focus on high net worth individuals of late. The second link Google offers up is a CEO letter as he wraps up 2015 and outlines the successes and future growth plans for Ezdan holding Group. Well-written, but possibly by his impressive team or external PR agency – definitely no shame in producing these kinds of communications but it leaves me craving for something more personable from the public face of the company.

Most of the rest of the URLs in the screengrab are to similar pieces of corporate content, so let’s now turn our attention to other channels Mr Ali may be present on.

LinkedIn offers company leadership the opportunity to display their business pedigree, personal and professional successes and also, during the last few years, provides a platform for longer form content to reach your focused network in the form of a blog post. It is unfortaunte in the first instance that Google adds in a link to the wrong Ali Mohammed Ali Al-Obaidli LinkedIn profile, but do not fear, we will go direct to the horse’s mouth, or social network if you prefer,  and discover that after a laborious search effort Mr Ali does not have a personal profile. I would only claim this was a missed opportunity should he be interested in raising his own profile alongside Ezdan Holding Group and have the interest to maintain his profile. One element of digital estate management I always preach, apart from blogging builds reputations, is to avoid over-exposure if you cannot uphold it. There is nothing worse than a derelict social media profile. Having said that, LinkedIn is slightly different and can be used for SEO (Google loves it as it identifies skilled and authoritative individuals) and does not necessarily need frequent updates.

And so, I will leave Chapter 2 with this advice: please create a LinkedIn profile as a minimal requirement. It will let you tell your story and also link directly to the Ezdan Holding Group company page. All good for corporate reputation and discovery.

 

Digital audits are sexy

I think everyone in communications probably had a double-take when they read this headline and are now shaking their head in disbelief. But, like many other things in life, a digital audit is a necessary process to carry out in order to progress to greater things. Like doing your laundry and cleaning your fingernails. From a brand perspective, it is an essential way to keep your online reputation in check and forms the foundation for a forward-looking strategy.

Ideally carried out in-depth on a quarterly basis, but usually undertaken by a new agency to provide clear starting points for all parties to work from, an proper dig should inform a company exactly where they stand in terms of efficacy of message but also what people are saying about them. Are they having any influence on their target market, and if not what/who is? A decent audit often throws up relevant competition as well as examples of effective campaigns that have “moved the needle”.

A great article I just read on the topic, courtesy of Econsultancy, covers off most of the key points here, but perhaps the most important thing to note is this: audits aren’t really sexy at all, that’s why you need a third party to do your dirty work and tell you what needs fixing, conveniently removed from any potential internal politics.

 

Unearthing Gems

I’ve recently been working through a knowledge nanagement course via the wonderful MOOC that is edX, littered with intriguing modules delivered by Harvard, MIT and other global leaders in education. What drew me to this course was a common concern clients have, which is linked to intellectual capital.

It is remarkable how much company knowledge is held inside the minds of employees, but not recorded anywhere else. The danger here is if you lose the employee, that knowledge is lost forever. Short of inserting a dystopian microchip into employee heads that can easily be extracted as they finish their contract, the only option available is to elicit knowledge through interview or conversation.

This initial knowledge audit can help build out the framework for a knowledge database, because until you have a firm handle on what they know you can’t really start classifying for later accessibility. Perhaps most important in the whole process is how the data is recorded. Clear naming and tagging should enable easy access, with hosting in a shared drive possibly hosted in the cloud. The next step is defining access levels per company member.

Two examples from my five year career in agency spring to mind.

Upon arrival in Dubai, my agency didn’t even have a shared drive, which scared me! Imagine if a laptop broke that stored all aspects of a project, or supplier database goes missing? Wasted time and frustrations would run high, but a shared drive with clear folder structure is a step in the right direction.

The second example was at my last agency, and my excitement when they launched a global knowledge repository and encourage everyone to upload case studies, credentials and best practice. Brilliant innovation and empowered individuals to blow their own trumpets through posting success stories to share with your global colleagues. Although I was somewhat surprised it was only happening in 2015, it was a major step forward in company-wide knowledge sharing.

When the knowledge is accessible, it makes it easier to tell your stories and enhance your business efficacy in a much shorter timeframe. The job of the content creator and strategist is streamlined, always appreciated and something we can put into place for your business as part of our comprehensive communications planning.

Fleshing Out The Best Mix For You

Although here in the Middle East, things tend to quieten down on most fronts during the holy month of Ramadan, here at Ashton & Ashton we have been busy pulling together an increasingly useful capability set for you. What we have noticed has been lacking from previous project experience we have striven to plug those gaps and essentially have the resources ready as they are required so each brief is answered exactly and efficiently.

Clear, practical strategic planning to achieve your business objectives is the paramount reason we exist, so we added a brain trained at one of the world’s leading business schools; one of our directors studied at ESSEC Business School in Paris and recently attained an Executive MBA in Strategy & Management of International Business.

Quality, well-priced digital production facilities have been hard to lay a hand on of late too. Whether we ultimately decide on Facebook Connect video experiences, mobile applications or all manner of other immersive creative solutions, we have the answer. From a team with experience delivering for Yahoo, Nissan, Kawasaki to name a few if we brief it they can produce it, enhancing the broader content strategies.

Additionally last week I struck up a working relationship with a team that deliver all manner of social media CRM solutions. This answers directly a number of previous clients who were looking for that magic bullet that converts Facebook followers into sales. The tools and resources at your disposal from this team mean that the journey from increasing your Facebook fanbase then converting them into engaged brand advocates that continue down the funnel to perform whatever action you define is a smooth and enjoyable journey. Gold dust.

Just in case a launch event of some description was needed, we will shortly be finalising with a hardworking team who regularly work with mass or niche, luxury brands alike and have the knack of booking the perfect talent to attend. Think Tori Amos or Lenny Kravitz.

Get in touch immediately so we can start shaping your communication architecture at the earliest.