Youth these days find it particularly hilarious when older people, (and by older I am referring to those of us who witnessed Y2K), narrate how life was before social media, apps, iDevices and platforms like YouTube. The whole notion of life without such platforms is deemed outlandish.
But you know what; there was a time when a cell phone was bought for two reasons: to make phone calls and to send text messages. It was a simpler time then and we loved every bit of it.
That being said, the alarming part is that even those of us who are nostalgic about the past can’t seem to turn away from such technology. We find ourselves spending hours on YouTube searching for videos ranging from funny babies to nature documentaries. And we love it.
In the Middle East, YouTube is making a big impact in the way people consume media. The Middle East region boasts an amazing 300 million views on YouTube daily, the second highest of any region worldwide according to Wamda. It is a great opportunity for video producers to create compelling video content.
Increasingly, talented individuals find in YouTube an outlet where they can do such and showcase their skills. Let’s take Emkwan (real name Mohsin Khan) for example; who is a dedicated ‘YouTuber’ creating content out of Abu Dhabi in English.
“I got into YouTube after watching a useful video on a camera I was thinking about purchasing many years ago. The video actually persuaded me to choose one brand over another and that also got me started in creating my own videos to share with others,” says Emkwan.
“Before I started, I realised I needed a unique online name and brand which I spent months refining. That helped me understand digital and social marketing better,” he says.
Emkwan set up two Youtube channels in the UK before moving to the UAE. The first is Avorah TV ; a leading independent tech and lifestyle channel in the region now which has featured local and international brands. The second is EMKWAN TV ; which features vlogging life experiences as an expat in the UAE. The channels combined have tens of thousands of followers and subscribers across social media platforms, and have gained millions of video views on YouTube and third party platforms and websites.
The benefits of YouTube are also attracting the attention of major brands. According to a global study by Nielsen, online video ads have a higher impact than TV ads and finds hard-to-reach audiences. The number of internet users watching digital video has grown from 56 percent in 2008 to 75 percent is 2013. Emkwan’s channels have also garnered the attention of such brands who have collaborated to further promote their brands. They include Google Glass, Blackberry, HTC, Nissan, Bentley, Emirates Palace, etc.
“What motivates and drives me to make these videos is the desire to share information and showcase what I believe deserves to be shown like a good product or service. I do this purely as a hobby and that’s what makes it easy. Doing something your passionate about is fun,” says Emkwan.
A recent video featuring the upcoming latest technology craze; Google Glass is an example of one such collaboration.
By teaming up with an ‘influential’ social and Youtube personality like EMKWAN, brands can allow a relatively new product to be showcased in an honest and open way. Engagement through comments and local regional demonstrations in the video can allow potential customers to discover the ‘next big thing’ while at the same time allowing brands to gain valuable feedback on any issues and concerns.
“My video on living with Google Glass in the UAE has shown a lot of potential. It’s also highlighted some cultural sensitivities which would benefit Google as well as any interested customers to be aware of prior to purchasing. Businesses and services in the region need to remember video is key to their customer interaction and support now,” said Emkwan.
YouTube is not only a social platform, but it’s also a search engine; and why not when millions take to YouTube to entertain and to learn new things? Because of this powerful social media platform, Emkwan’s popularity increased. People were able to connect with him; after all he was and is an expatriate living in the UAE and documenting experiences with weekly video blogs.
It’s impressive how the social media scene can help shape conversations and reputations, and in such a short period of time.
“For my vlog channel EMKWANTV, I want to share the best of the UAE. It’s rich culture and people. Vlogs allow me and my family to meet with locals and expats and experience more. In a recent vlog I did on ‘Explore Abu Dhabi In A Bentley’, I showed through film, some of Abu Dhabi’s most scenic locations and the filming was helped in part from a local filmmaker I had met through my work on YouTube.”
On the future of doing more on YouTube, Emkwan had the following to say: “In the future I will continue to make more informative and entertaining content. I also want to meet more local talent and collaborate with others. The next step is to share my social media knowledge with business professionals and students, to benefit the UAE and the wider region”.
(Maha El-sanosi is a Sudanese blogger and freelance writer based in Dubai. She is the Co-Founder of @ToSudanWithLove, Columnist at @500wordsmag and Correspondent at @GlobalVoices. Check her articles online)