The task of a content-led marketer can be very challenging, especially if one is living in the Middle East where stories of war-ravaged communities dominate our landscape and images of children being robbed of their innocence stranded in adversity and turmoil scatter the headlines. How can a content marketer create meaningful connections with the public and derive value from experience when the search for truth and meaning are seemingly the ultimate preoccupation? How does one create relevance and niche markets when the workings of secret oligarchs and fraternities are the order of the day to get by and get ahead in what is relatively considered a small economy?
In an attempt to uncover the hidden trade secrets of content marketers who have managed to hit a chord with the public, it is not too hard to notice the following attributes in their work as it has helped them rise to fame and fortune by pleasing the angry masses who are, otherwise, incapable or unwilling to stand up or speak out against the status quo. This blog explores, in brief, the approaches taken by content marketers to succeed in Jordan and while I may not do all of them justice by including them in this blog, I have highlighted those who are, in my opinion, the most impactful in the digital realm:
The use of satire to present their view
Stretching the boundaries of freedom of expression is often handled with judicial prudence since any mischoice of words can mean a long trail of lawsuits or social and economic prosecution. The Alrai columnist Ahmad Hassan Al-Zubi presents a satirical view of political, economic and social events by inadvertently casting a shadow on the truth. His criticism of public officials is usually wrapped in innuendo and his reaction to social issues is expounded by reference to ancient-like parables and sayings that tend to escape the minds of modern day individuals. Always delightful, always entertaining, he is extremely intelligent and the people love him for his humour and wit in presenting the facts.
The use of humour to convey a message
Quoting Peter Russell on “being a comedian” on his recent visit to Jordan, Musa Hijazeen and playwright Adnan Mashgbeh are considered “truth towers.” “Unlike Politicians, who tell you what you want to hear, or the Media who tell you what they want you to hear, comedians act as truth towers,” telling you the story “as is,” but with a dose of humor to give one a sense of unity in hardship- A sort of “You Are Not Alone” feeling that empowers one to keep forging on.
The use of creativity to present an idea
Famous cartoonists Emad and Osama Hajjaj have demonstrated incredible creativity, particularly in relation to the character of Abu Mahjoob and how he projects his views and perceptions of social ills in a light-hearted way. Take by way of example, the artist’s depiction of the evolution of fashion over the years among modern day youth and tying that to their level of responsibility, masculinity and conviction; seemingly interested in appearances and trivial pursuits and contrasting that with the image of the old bedouin nomad, who used to roam the desert wearing long and shabby attire, but possessing special attributes popularized by famous Arabic poets as skilled horsemen, adept navigators and wise articulators and least of all definite survivors.
The use of education and awareness-raising
Learners, according to Shivani Sharma, are in desperate need for an education – which is valuable, engaging and inexpensive, and independent of location. And while I will not attempt to oscillate between the positive and adverse effects of digital content on traditional education, the video productions of Maher Qadoura, of New Think Theatre, is producing Arabic content that is both useful and entertaining; they promote innovation, a risk-taking mentality and a new way of thinking among the youth in order to help them survive in today’s guerrilla-like warfare. Likewise Aroub Suboh, the famous TV presenter of a children’s daytime show in Jordan, called Waqt al-Farah, which translates into“Time for Joy” in English is helping children stretch their imagination with story-telling of ancient Egypt, music playing and art creation instilling not only awareness but pride in the Arabic culture and Arabic content.
The use of principled language
The beautiful and exquisite Rula Samain communicates the principles of Islamic and Christian teachings in a light-hearted manner to promote inter-faith dialogue. She has a soft touch on people’s sentiments and emotions and speaks to the common sense of individuals in order to promote greater tolerance and understanding.
The funny face
Chief Mahoo has emerged as a crowd pleaser, the joke teller and the kidder. He makes fun of himself and others but with an eye for art, leadership and creative workmanship. His attempt at deriving meaning stems only from his ability to entertain and amuse others with hilarious photos of St. Valentine’s day among other equally whimsical photos.
The Rania Show is also an amusing addition. The talented Rania Al-Kurdi adapts English-like comedy to Jordanian culture in a manner that is bold, daring and amusing.
The lickspittle approach in writing posts
This is most commonly known as “tasheej” in Arabic. The lickspittle approach is, sadly, the holy grail of content marketing! It’s become the tactic of choice for the dual purpose of bringing dissent views into line and warding off youth’s inclination toward extreme ideologies. Its relevance grew from the misguided perception of being a national necessity to fill the void unaddressed by local or even religious figures: good governance, integrity, transparency, impact, just to name a few. As a consequence, it replaced relevance with relativity, and created an opportunity for activists to convert with the oligarchs, not the public – A paradigm shift in marketing content that is likely to have a topsy turvy effect on the industry.
Many fall under this category whose sole purpose is to sing the praises of public officials not invoke argument and great story-telling- key ingredients for any great content marketing initiative in which the former competes on grounds of truthfulness and the latter endows meaning to a story.
The fact of the matter is that content marketing is all those things and more. Much more! It’s a process that is technically-managed, preferably integrated and frequently optimized and measured, but is seldom used by industry silos in Jordan. It identifies: How to get found online, how to understand your buyers and where they are coming from; their needs and triggers and how to convert them into loyal customers- the same way one works a machine. So, to those of you who think it’s about being a talented writer, a great wordsmith, a PR expert or super creative designer. It’s not!
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