VMLY&R COMMERCE MENA helped Twitter MENA become the first social media platform to add the Arabic (female) language setting to their interface. Here is how the team made the idea come alive.
Twitter is the first social platform in the world to launch the Feminine Arabic language feature on their platform. Allowing users and brands to communicate with their female audiences in #FeminineArabic form.
Imagine being a feminine hygiene brand and talking to your female audience in masculine form. Well, we changed that. And we started a movement at the same time.
Twitter was seeking new solutions to grow its popularity and relevance in MENA whilst also focusing on improving its relationship with key brand partners. To do so, it needed to find new ways to provide meaningful contributions to local culture and create positive change.
Twitter estimates that close to 60% of its users in MENA are female. Whilst researching this it became clear that when brands or their peers address the female audiences through the platform, they often are speaking to them as if they were male. As a result, we found that today the average Arabic speaking woman was addressed with the wrong pronoun every 17 seconds. Not only was this also a fact on paper, but internally our Arabic speaking female colleagues were also testament to the frustration. Imagine being a female health brand who ONLY targets women, yet has to speak to them as though they were a man?!
As a result, the idea was born.
The change for women to be addressed as female was simple – allow the platform and its users to address women, as women. And knowing that brands carry significant weight and emotional connections with people, Twitter – the platform where change begins – saw the potential to partner with these ‘influencers’ to improve the lives of those around them.
Throughout our journey, there were four key areas we needed to keep in mind and achieve:
1. Become the spark for change and provide a voice for local issues like never before
2. Create positive societal change for people and commercial impact for partners
3. Improve brand love and relevance by becoming a significant part of the local culture and cultural discourse
4. Make it easier for brands and companies to choose Twitter as one of their preferred platforms to communicate with their audiences
To spark the movement for better gender representation in daily conversations, Twitter launched Female Arabic, a first of its kind language feature allowing both brands and users to address Arabic speaking women as they should be addressed – in feminine form – all through a simple button.
To amplify and drive the awareness, the feature was supported with a #FeminineArabic campaign that engaged with hundreds of regional brands that began using the feature and their influence to drive societal change immediately. The movement led brands to rethink their engagement strategies, to drive business and commercial success, as they were brought closer to Arabic women speakers through respect and appreciation.
The goal – to create inclusivity and pivot the way female Arabic speakers were addressed – wasn’t achieved by merely engaging with women and men online, but by ensuring their trusted brands adopted the innovation as well and led by example. It was about making a difference in society, while providing brands with a platform to take a stand and generate more saliency for themselves. Leading to more engagement and trust.
Launching a first of its kind feature such as this took months of tech development with Twitter’s global teams. With multiple moving parts, a large amount of testing was also required. The language feature setting was first introduced on desktop, followed by mobile. The #FeminineArabic campaign was then further amplified through inclusivity workshops and debates developed in partnership with brands across the region.
Instantly, consumers and agencies directly engaged with Twitter by re-tweeting the campaign launch post or commenting on it. Hundreds of additional brands – from Samsung to MasterCard and Puck to Adidas – joined the conversation, helping amplify the movement, provide visibility and add relevance to the cause.
The hashtag and campaign emoji were trending on the platform in key regions such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and United Arab Emirates.
While female inclusivity still has a long way to go in the region, Twitter succeeded in setting the precedence of what a social media platform could do to have a positive impact in local societal issues – and the change 140 characters can achieve.