Monday 22 Jul 2024
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This article first appeared in Digital Edge, The Edge Malaysia Weekly on April 11, 2022 - April 17, 2022

Ramadan is the holiest and busiest month for Muslims, both spiritually and economically.

The Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (Ikim) classifies this as the “Ramadan Effect”, indicating that a person’s expenditure is influenced by the holy month. Apart from zakat (tithe) and charitable contributions, Ikim reports that Ramadan food consumption makes up 15% of a Muslim family’s annual food expenditure.

Ramadan spending is worth billions globally with data from Statistica showing that 53% of Malaysians will spend no less than RM600 for Ramadan this year — making this season an opportunity that businesses cannot afford to miss.

Twitter’s Asia Pacific research director Martyn U’ren says brands have been exploring various marketing strategies on the microblogging site following the Covid-19-induced physical distancing restrictions, which resulted in the closure of Ramadan and Hari Raya bazaars.

The platform, which largely comprises users aged between 18 and 29, holds the key to unlocking the potential Gen Z market, says U’ren.

“From working with influential voices on Twitter to identifying cultural moments that resonated best with them, brands tapped Twitter’s various innovative solutions to launch campaigns and connect with their audience.

“These brands created outstanding campaigns that broke through the chatter on Twitter and gained recognition as #BestTweets winners in Malaysia,” says U’ren.

Nine out of 10 Malaysians on Twitter are already planning to purchase during Ramadan, he shares.

The most popular purchase categories are food and beverage (80%), clothes and accessories (77%), personal care products (43%), Ramadan gifts (33%) and, surprisingly, tech gadgets (27%).

“Conversations on Twitter can drive business, where a 10% increase in brand conversation can result in a 3% increase in sales. People on Twitter are the first ones to try, buy and share new products,” says U’ren.

Height of the hype

Hari Raya is celebrated by the country’s Muslims after observing the month-long dawn-to-dusk fasting period of Ramadan. But conversations about the festivities usually begin one month early in Malaysia, based on last year’s data which showed that 20 million Tweets on the subject were recorded during the festive season, says U’ren.

And such conversations spiked twice on daily and monthly bases. Daily conversations peaked at daybreak during sahur and rose again two hours before iftar (breaking fast).

Meanwhile, on the first day of Ramadan, Twitter noted a 92% increase in conversations from the daily average and the second spike happened at the end of the month, with a 140% increase.

“In 2021, the conversations started to rise two weeks before Ramadan as brands and people were gearing up for the holy month. Then it reached its first peak on the first day of fasting and remained stable until [it] spiked again during Hari Raya,” U’ren says.

Based on Twitter’s conversational data around Ramadan, there are five phases of Ramadan conversations: pre-Ramadan; the start of Ramadan; Laylatul Qadr (Night of Power); and post-Ramadan.

U’ren adds that most of the conversations around that time are being led by Gen Z users. “In terms of survey respondents [for the analysis], 65% were female and 35% were male, with most respondents from the 18 to 22 age group (35%).”

There was a rise in charitable activities too, he says. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) such as Pertubuhan Imaan Malaysia (@ImaanMalaysia), Pertubuhan Bakti Nusantara (@pertubuhanbakti) and Pertubuhan Bumbung Ehsan (@bumbungehsan) leverage the microblogging platform to crowdfund their weekly food distributions to the needy.

Apart from that, food and cooking contents are the most popular to inspire users for their buka puasa dishes.

Prominent influencer, Khairul Amin Kamarulzaman (@khairulaming)’s Ramadan special video series “30 Hari 30 Resepi” where he posts a recipe daily throughout the month was among the most highly anticipated content on social media platforms including Twitter.

Other contents that were trending last year include religion, comedy, health and wellness, and entertainment and pop culture.

“For Ramadan 2022, interest in comedy [is expected to rise to] 55% compared to 46% last year. And, entertainment and pop culture are expected to rise to 45%, compared to 39% in 2021.

“But Malaysians are less keen this year on consuming current affairs or news-based contents — 28% compared to 48% in 2021,” explains U’ren.

Building your brand on Twitter

How can enterprises use this information to up their brand value? To embark on Twitter, brands need to first build their foundation by deciding their objectives, audience and goals, says U’ren.

“Deciding from the beginning will help them focus on communicating and connecting the way that is aligned with their audiences’ needs.”

Brands need to start connecting with their audience and continuously tap into the current happenings, he adds.

“People on Twitter are open, engaged and ready to discover. They are also the first to try, buy and share.”

Engaging in conversations on the platform is important as it is the main driver for a business. Twitter research concluded that there is a 3% increase in sales when there is a 10% increase in conversations about the brands.

U’ren also suggests for brands to “identify which solutions work well to grow their business and supercharge the campaigns”. These solutions include Timeline Takeover, Trend Takeover, Twitter LIVE, Twitter Amplify, Promoted Ads or Carousel Ads.

“Twitter’s value lies in the conversation that people create on Twitter. A brand has to connect to what’s happening [on Twitter] to successfully pull an audience to their business,” he says.

Brands are more likely to grow 1.8 times faster and get 2 times more people talking about their brands in the space if conversations are encouraged, he says.

Many brands leverage Twitter to launch their Ramadan-Hari Raya specials, but one of the campaigns that stood out was McDonald’s Malaysia #SyukurBersyukur Ramadan campaign last year, says U’ren.

Winner of #BestofTweets2021 in the Best Use of Video category in Malaysia, McDonald’s Malaysia encapsulates the Ramadan spirit through a video series featuring a boy named “Syukur” and details his journey in appreciating the value of empathy and generosity, which are emphasised during Ramadan. 

McDonald’s Malaysia was able to “creatively connect with cultural conversations that resonate well with the target audience”, says U’ren.

“Communities gather on Twitter to discuss what’s happening and have conversations with each other. Tap into the conversations, understand the value of Twitter and be aware of how your audiences use the platform. This will allow brands to plan well and get the most out of their campaigns.

“Once a brand has identified all the above, the next step is to strategically design a campaign based on Twitter’s launch formula, Tease-Reveal-Reinforce. Then, amplify it with three to five video creatives to drive impacts.”

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