30k organic likes for pro-freedom content in MENA!

That’s up to 30k likes on their best posts! Up to 4,000,000 impressions!

30k organic likes for pro-freedom content in MENA!

That’s up to 30k likes on their best posts! Up to 4,000,000 impressions!

Here’s how they do it.

Local Impact. Global Relevance.

Across Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East, RNW Media works with some of the brightest young hopes for a democratic future. And because new media tech has made democratic insecurity a global phenomenon, our partners’ solutions have worldwide relevance. Impact against repression in the Middle East – like Raseef22 is nailing – carries strategy lessons for how we nail impact on the same issues everywhere from Middle England to Mid West USA.

Farah Als’adi

Stand out. Be different. + value.

In a region where the media is often polarised and controlled by politicians or business elites, Raseef22's engagement stats prove that there’s an audience there that's hungry for change. Get the insights into how Raseef22 engaged that audience from one of the smartest strategists working in pro-rights content today. Farah Als’adi leads the team behind Raseef22’s instagram success.

Connect with their pain.

“Oh, the taboos in the Middle East!” says Farah with a grin, "We're people with a lot of contradictions. There's a lot of things that are hidden, things that we can't talk about. There's a lot of shame and social pressure, and that makes people crazy."

"The reason so many people engage is because we help them with their problems. That's how we get traction. If people are struggling, if they're
worried, media can be like a kind of friend – especially with things that are taboo and there's no one else they can turn to."

Imagine never being alone.

“I’ll give you an example,” says Farah. “One piece of content that did pretty well was from a woman writing about how she's never alone. She never gets any time to sit and think or be by herself because of the constant social pressure to be with family.

“That's a really common thing across many contexts in the region, but almost no one ever talks about it. And because a lot of people are dealing with that pain everyday and there's no way out of it, it feels so good to explore it and learn how others are coping."

Make good on your promises.

Every day, Farah's team gets given up to 15 pieces of content, but she only picks the 3 she thinks are the most "Raseefy". No matter how much pressure she gets from writers who want exposure, she stands firm. She only ever picks the content that she knows will work for the audience she's built on Instagram.

"Brand relationships aren't so different to relationships in real life," she says. "irl we expect our friends to have integrity – to keep showing up as the people we got to know and love. We choose our friends for a reason, and consistency and integrity are how loyalty develops. It's the same online. People choose to engage because they like what we do, and we can't build a loyal relationships if we don't keep showing up for them. Our content needs to be consistent and keep working for them or they'll fall out of love pretty quickly."

“Brand is not your logo or your web design. Those things are important, but nowhere near as important as how you actually show up for your community every day.”

We all know people who say they're one thing, but act totally differently when they think no one is looking," say Farah. "Those people aren't good to be with. And it's the same online, people just click away instantly if it's not authentic."

Making rights work irl.

How do we give value? It's easy to think that we can connect with a pro-rights audience simply by putting out slogans, but that doesn't work anymore. You can agree with everything someone says and still have a boring conversation. Just saying, "we support human rights" doesn't really do anything for anyone. What we need to do if we want to give young people a good experience is take those ideas and make them come alive.

"Our content works is because it's relevant to people's lives,” Farah says. “They see their own struggles in stories, and they get comfort and insights seeing how other people are dealing with same things too. And that's what we all want at the end of the day, to know that we're not alone."

Getting past the echo chamber.

“Talking about social taboos,” says Farah, “whenever we post pro-LGBTQ content we lose a few thousand followers. That's ok, we believe in what we're doing, and our numbers alway go back up again in the end."

But this feeds into a wider theory of change. "If people see that our ideas have value for them –– if they see how thinking outside the structures of culture and tradition works for them in their own lives–– then eventually some will become receptive to other ideas we put out there. I mean, if we build trust with an audience that
thinks our ideas are worth listening to, when they see our ideas about queer rights or other freedoms, then they're much more likely to engage (even if they started from a very different place).”

Work with the algorithm.

The algorithm is all about giving people what they want to keep them online longer. That's what organic reach is – it's the platforms using you to make money. If your content “works,” they distribute it for free to the people who like it. And they way they know if it “works" is through data and probability. The more people with a specific psychographic profile that engage – the higher the probability that others with the same profile will engage.

So if we understand that the logic of probability underpins algorithmic distribution, then we understand that brand consistency fits with healthy organic reach too. The more consistently people engage with your stuff, the more appealing the algorithm "thinks" you are, and the more people it will show your stuff to. If your stuff is kind of hit and miss, the algorithm trusts you less to help it keep people engaged.

Testing makes strategy real.

Farah's team didn't get those numbers on Raseef22's Instagram overnight. It was through constant experimentation that they found what worked and what didn't.
She looked at the data everyday and saw patterns in what was working for people. She constantly tried new things to see how she could squeeze higher numbers out of the content she got given; working with a designer to make graphics more insta friendly / posting on different themes / varying the frequency and posting times. And with a lot of trial & error & data, she was able to make the Raseef22 insta brand into what it is today. She's helped Raseef22 build real impact by building an audience that loves them, in other words.

Organic goes further.

Throughout their experiments, the R22 social team played with spending different amounts to boost the content. As they nailed brand ––as what they were doing started working for more and more and people–– they started to find they got better reach by not paying to boost their traction.
Farah says, "if it's fake it doesn't work. People trust sponsored content less. They trust the wisdom of crowds, and if ten thousand people have said something's good, then probably it is. And let's keep in mind that the algorithm wants to keep people online longer; what it's really looking for is the organic likes and shares, the ones that come from the heart. That's what shows it that your ideas are worth spreading."