In the Middle East, Ramadan is a significant month for brands to communicate to their target audience, in a way which would not be hard selling but where they give back to the community. On social media, we see several campaigns which revolve around the Month.

In order to do this, brands need to understand and respect the culture of the region. On social media, timing the posting of content is crucial to capture attention. Especially for food brands, marketers should be sensitive to the fact that people are fasting and schedule their social media content accordingly.

Here are a few tips on how brands to market themselves during Ramadan:

* Bloggers — Invite food and lifestyle bloggers for Iftar tasting sessions, so they can blog about the best places to have Iftar and Suhoor during this month. With several F&B concepts having a customised menu for Ramadan, it’s crucial to make your brand stand out.

* Social media ads: People need to be made aware of offers during the month and the best way to catch their attention would be through targeted social media ads using geo-location and demographics.

* Video Content — Create customised video content to show the USP of your brand and what they have to offer during this month. Ensure the content does not engage in hard selling and you are giving back to the community.

* Corporate social responsibility: Ramadan is when you bring people together. Brands must respect that and contribute to the community, and especially the needy.

* Retail outlets showcase their latest collection during Ramadan to utilise the upturn in buying. Use features like Facebook Live to showcase what you have to offer.

* Make the most of togetherness in real time: Encourage your audience to bring their friends and family together, be it for a family gathering or an Iftar. Brands organise a lot of meeting ups during the month.

* Deploy omnichannel marketing: Ensure you connect with your audience on several platforms with a combination of online and offline!

* Connecting with audiences in the GCC: We witness a lot of travel influx from neighbouring countries ... brands must target visitors in the UAE via social media.

* Night markets are a huge trend. Brands should look out to participate in these.

A recent survey by Criteo revealed that the Middle East Mobile consumption during Ramadan was significantly higher than other months. Spending during the first two weeks of Ramadan increases by 44 per cent to 57 per cent by Eid Al Fitr.

Online platforms see an increase in purchase during Ramadan evenings. As per market estimates, Retail sales increase by 15 per cent and travel bookings by 35 per cent as consumers make travel plans for Eid holidays. Brands should ensure that their marketing campaigns are primarily mobile-focused. Consumers under 35 years, which is 43 per cent of millennial on mobile, check their smartphones every five minutes in the MENA markets.

The travel industry often makes the most of this month. The latest Google data based on analysis of travel behaviour last year shows that searching for flights and hotels rises significantly.

Brands like Vimto, who are relatively quiet during other months, come out with big campaigns, while others like Emirates Airlines and Emirates NBD have massive customised campaigns for this month. We should look forward to seeing what brands have to offer this year.

The writer is Director of McCollins Media.