WHO: Freya Jaffar
WHAT: SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCER
“I was born and raised in London. My mother was from Pakistan and my father from Kenya. I first visited Abu Dhabi as a child so it’s always held a special place in my heart. The feelings of that very trip never left me – I felt very connected in a way I can’t explain.
“Unknown to members, my Abu Dhabi Q&A group on Facebook has been my space where I was able to block out my most painful life moments: post-natal depression in 2012 and then my mother’s illness and passing from Cancer in 2016. In trying to help and solve issues for people, I was in fact healing myself. Hence the sleepless nights and effort that went into ADQ&A hold the platform very close to my heart. It’s now led me to opportunities and experiences that I never dreamed would happen in this phase of my life. So, it’s been quite a journey!
I feel Abu Dhabi is on the cusp of a massive social media change. There are many personalities emerging – every day residents documenting their interests and hobbies and turning it into a business (I hate using the word influencer!) With the many different ways now to legalize a business idea, there is no better time than now to get started and focus on Abu Dhabi. There is a massive need for well managed and trusted set ups. For larger businesses, there is a massive cost cutting achieved by tapping into social media.
“The main challenges have been technical and cultural! I’m not from a media background and neither am I very technical. So, I’ve basically learnt on the job! But I enjoyed using social media – particularly Facebook – and in fact my lack of technical knowledge kept the ‘human touch’ to my style of moderating. The other challenge was being so accessible to members that in the beginning I was unable to detach. It became a 24-hour service that residents were using, and at least 2-3 times a week I would be awake till 4am managing the group and members concerns.
“So it grew to a point where I had to treat it like a job and be objective, and bring in friends to help as moderators. Another massive and quite important aspect was managing all the different perspectives, different cultures and sense of humour! It’s taken some time, but admins play a huge role in setting the tone of a group and I think we have molded and conditioned members to understand and be tolerant of one another, as we are ourselves. So trying to accommodate so many different nationalities was perhaps the biggest challenge. But even now you always get the few that are always dissatisfied with something!”
SOCIAL MEDIA FOR SOCIAL CHANGE
Give more credit to social media users intelligence in Abu Dhabi. The well-heeled demographic here wants interactive and quality content. They want their voices heard. Facebook groups – although massively neglected by Facebook in my opinion – are perfect for this purpose and underrated in their influence. In the UAE, we are bombarded with advertising. And being mostly an expat populace without close friends and family here, ironically social media has disconnected us further from the human touch.
What ADQ&A does as a Facebook group in the capital is foster human relationships outside of the screen. So if you have an interest or passion you want to bring to social media: interact, meet and listen to your members/followers. Come out from behind the screen and meet people. When they hear and see you, they attach your attributes to your platform and very importantly – to your members/followers too.
FREYA ON HOW TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA EFFECTIVELY
- Work on something you love doing. If you don’t – don’t read further!
- Be consistent with your content.
- Remain close to your authentic model and belief for it. Don’t give up even on a bad day
- Find a team to help you. If you all get on and enjoy what you do, this will reflect in your content and appeal to your members
- Don’t spend money on unnecessary art work. Keep it real – there are tons of free apps which you can use and put your style on.
- Recognize and interact with your members so they feel valued. Even if you have less than 100 in the beginning. They will return to where they feel valued and become attached to you and your brand and become your brand ambassadors.
- Social media is fast changing so be ready for change and overnight surprises!
- Offer some spontaneity to members, as they are more likely to check your content regularly