A Middle Eastern Look at Facebook Usage

Last week, I blogged about a guest post I did for Brian Kelly’s UK Web Focus about how we use Facebook here in the US. That post got a great comment from Gregory Morris, who works at German Jordanian University in Amann, Jordan. It’s an interesting look at what schools in that region are doing with social media tools like Facebook. They’re also on Twitter.

Here’s Gregory’s comment in its entirety, in case you missed it. Lots of good information here.

Thanks Mike for the great article on UK Web Focus … You really highlighted the ways social networking (specifically Facebook) can help universities connect with their target groups.

Although you didn’t mention these regions specifically, I thought I would update you on the progress of Middle East and Gulf region schools who have not yet embraced social networking as a viable marketing tool.

In fact, many higher education institutions in these two regions have not embraced marketing … period!

As a Canadian working for the German Jordanian University (there’s a joke in there somewhere …), I have been conducting extensive research into the marketing practices of all Middle Eastern and Gulf universities (public and private) and have found that there is a tremendous lack of understanding when it comes to marketing in general.

I am attempting to bring a “western” approach to marketing at my university, and recently completed an agressive strategy that includes a strong presence on major social networking sites, and a completely re-designed website that will be unlike anything in this region. This plan was initially met with resistance such as, “We don’t do things like that here,” but I am starting to change some attitudes.

Our Facebook Fan Page is currently under construction, and our Twitter page (@GJUniversity) has been operating for about two weeks now. We have completed a company profile on LinkedIn, and we have applied for a YouTube education channel. In addition, there are several Arab social networking sites that we will be using in the near future.

Although I didn’t plan for this to happen, it looks like my work here is “blazing the trail” for other institutions in these regions as they struggle to keep prospective students from studying abroad. I have already been approached by a few schools who are interested in implementing similar strategies.

That being said, universities in the U.S. and Canada may want to consider targeting Middle Eastern and Gulf students as they are very motivated to study outside these regions, and can usually afford the higher tuition fees. If you’re interested in a list of Arab social networking sites, send me an email and I will forward you a list of the best ones.

Take care, and I look forward to reading your next post.