Search Engine Optimization has been the best practice to rank high in Google and other top search engines but with the advent of social networks such as Facebook, it has shifted to Social Engagement Optimization rather than SEO alone. The influx of social network users has dramatically changed the landscape of marketing and even the large companies are engaging with their prospects and customers to promote their names.

In an interview by Steven Bond to Scott Hicks, the Client Partner at Facebook MENA emphasized on the shift in the target market’s behavior when it comes to trusting brands as endorsed or talked about their friends rather than advertisements from the brands themselves. In the region alone, there are about 53 million Facebook users and the average age of users is 20 years old. These users have an average of 180 friends and “Like” about 80 pages on the popular social networking site. This, Scott Hicks said, is way above the normal average and people use the platform on a daily basis. As people in the region join the rest of the world in social networking, the practice of checking their News Feeds and interacting with friends have become a daily habit that they do routinely on a daily basis. It is pertinent for brands to find ways to place themselves into the fiber of their daily routine that involve liking, sharing and connecting with family and friends. With the help of Facebook, a lot of brands have done exactly that—place themselves in the middle of the social networking of their customers and target market while listening in and engaging them. This eventually creates a high conversion rate when the target market eventually becoming customers when they buy or turn into advocates that initiate a viral marketing campaign.

The process of recommendation has been in existence for a very long time. People endorse the brands they love and talk about them to friends and family but with the rise of Facebook and other social networks, it has amplified this word of mouth campaign for brands. It has become the most effective marketing strategy today because of the genuine reviews that people can trust. It has created the convenience of reaching thousands to millions of users through one platform and Facebook has become the front runner when it comes to internet marketing. Scott Hicks furthermore emphasized the importance of Facebook when it comes to marketing by pointing out that Nielsen, the giant research company, said that people’s trust for brands has gone down and has been replaced by trusting people they know instead. This is why brands need to establish their place online in order to place themselves in the middle of the conversation and join in on the discussion.

Lastly, Hicks believes that Facebook marketing is not just a fad but a new strategy to increase profitability of a brand. People are spending more time on the platform especially with the availability of mobile internet on their portable gadgets that helps them stay in touch on Facebook—talking, engaging and listening in on people they trust and most especially seeking for brands that they love or seeking for brands they are interested to get to know. The good news is that brands are catering to the needs of this audience and are creating quality content, engagement while marketing their products on their pages and looking for new ways to establish genuine social connections. People, however, are also looking for new ways to find brands and buy products that they have heard of through trusted friends and family.