Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lebanon Better in London

"Lebanon Would Be Better If" will be featured at NOUS Collaborative's exhibition on public spaces in the Arab World!

If you will be in London at the time, the exhibition is at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Second Floor Gallery, 66 Portland Place, London, from 12 July to 24 September. Please do pass by :)

Also, "The exhibition and talks are the events we are hosting in partnership with the RIBA for the Mayor of London's festival, Shubbak: A Window on Contemporary Arab Culture. Londons first ever celebration of contemporary culture from across the Arab world, Shubbak will feature more than 70 events in over 30 key cultural venues across the capital, covering visual arts, film, music, theatre, dance, literature, architecture, lectures and discussion. For more information, please visit, or "

Check em' out if you're interested.

Monday, June 13, 2011

'Lebanon Would Be Better If' Is BACK!

Hope was lost when we saw that the wall was vandalized by a black marker. Someone scribbled lines with a black marker to prevent anyone from writing. And a message was left on the top right corner saying: "Lebanon would be better if there were less retards". And a small drawing of male genitalia was added.

Today, that message along with the scribles are no longer there! They have been disappearing slowly for almost a week now.

This is how it looked like on June 7th, 2011: Barely any scribbles left.

And this is what it looks like now.

It turns out that Alex, a shop owner that is close to the wall, was one of the people cleaning it.

I went today. And spoke to him. I didn't mention that I'm one of the bozos who stenciled that wall.

It didn't matter, he offered me a detergent, water and a sponge. And together, we cleaned the wall and removed the scribbles with it's black marker message.

Margaret Thatcher once said "there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families."

 Well, Margaret, that's society right there.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Five Social Media Rules That Work

I've been working as 'Social Media' dude at LBC for the past month and a half. At a new political talk show for the Arab world called 'Live With Marcel Ghanem'. And I will quit at the end of June. Don't worry, they already know ;). I'm also part of the social media team at TEDxBeirut.

'Live With Marcel Ghanem' is, in less 160 characters: 

Independent. Challenging. Interviews with Arab leaders. Powered by social media. Live each Monday on LBC Sat at 9:30PM presented by Marcel Ghanem.


What I did at 'Live With Marcel Ghanem' is start everything from scratch, because I was recruited when the show started.

What I do is control LiveMG Facebook and LiveMG Twitter accounts when the show is off the air. And handle Twitter when the show is on the air. It's physically impossible to handle both when the show is live. 

And because I applied these rules and they worked, I want to share them with you here. I chose to call them Rules because:

  • Rules are things you have to always apply especially when you start your online presence.

Five Rules For Social Media:

Rule #1: Be valuable 

This is rule number one because it's the most important. You have to give people something of value for them to follow you on twitter or like you on facebook. At 'Live With Marcel Ghanem', we share articles and content specific to each episode that we do. If next week is on Syria, we will be publishing recent articles, case studies, videos, blogs and quotes. At TEDxBeirut, we publish one TED talk a day. If you are Shakira, then the valuable information you are giving people is what you did this morning, what you're wearing and what are your views on clubbing in Beirut, because YOUR audience WANT to know that.

Rule #2: Be online.

This might be obvious for some, but people forget that being 'online' means you actually have to be online! Anyone can contact you at any time... and publicly. To increase trust and credibility:

  • Reply to relevant mentions on twitter during your working day. Reply to late night mentions the next morning.
  • Don't leave someone hanging because you will lose trust and credibility.
  • If someone writes on your facebook wall, comment within 15 - 30 min max. Otherwise it will show that you weren't really there. And you will lose trust and credibility.
  • Check your facebook page. Never leave your facebook wall unattended. It will only mean disaster. 

I will give you this personal example, it's in the photo below. I wrote a complaint on BLOM Bank's wall. They took 18 hours to reply to me.


Rule #3: Be consistent.

When you are online, wither you are an NGO, Talk Show, Haifa Wehbe or McDonalds, you are a brand. And you have to be consistent to your brand, especially when you are present on several Social Mediums (ex: website, twitter and facebook.) And like any brand, you should:

  • Have the same color scheme and logo across social mediums.
  • Write and talk to sound like your brand, whenever you publish.

Please get a copywriter, and let him/her understand your brand and do the talking if you can't do it. Because even if social media is easy to use, it doesn't mean your average Ali should be doing it for you. A copywriter can create messages that are consistent with your brand and drive traffic to do what you want them to do.

If you cannot afford a copywriter, your online presence should still exist with the same voice. If you have a couple of people handling your social media accounts, then before you start working: meet all of you together, agree on how your brand sounds and feels like, and set ground rules on how to write, how to respond and what to share on facebook and twitter.

Rule #4: Be trustworthy.

There are so many fake accounts and bozos out there, that they are naturally going to think you ain't real. And that's an issue I faced with LiveMG. People generally disregarded the account until the show went live for the first time. So if you are Shakira, you have to prove your 'Hips Don't Lie'. You can do this in many ways, and some of them are:

  • Get a famous and trusted tweep to tweet to you.
  • Publish it on your website if you have one.
  • Let people mention it if they write about on blogs, articles..
  • Advertise it. (generally a waste of money).
  • Have many followers. (the most effective way, how to do this? Follow Rule #5)

Rule #5: Reward your first followers

You exist on social media, once you have followers. And your first followers are the ones who risked it all to like your page or follow you on twitter. They disregarded your credibility and just did it. To keep them and to bring others to follow you too, reward them. How do you reward them? Well there are many ways, and some of them are:

  • On facebook, give a prize to the person who gets the most like to a picture he adds (competition). 
  • On facebook, engage people in a conversation. Talk to them, ask them questions. Take their opinions.
  • On twitter, DM them and thank them for following you. Don't use an automated one because they will know it's fake, and you aren't impressing anyone.
  • On twitter, give them a small reward, like a free coffee if they go to your cafe.
  • On twitter, follow back your first followers.
  • On twitter,, retweet their tweets, comment on their wall posts.



Up next, Strategies For Social Media. And How to turn your iPhone into a Social Media Hub

Friday, June 3, 2011

'Lebanon Would Be Better If' Under Attack

There are many things that could have happened to the project. Since the beginning, people opposed it. The shop owners opposed it because they considered it as vandalism. Georgette, the old lady, opposed it because people were standing around her looking at the wall. 

That was in the begining. We spoke to the shop owner, and he said he loves the wall. He sometimes writes his own entries!

Georgette doesn't hate the wall anymore. Because I'm going to make her a custom made chair. So that she can be more comfortable in her favorite spot, next to the wall.

But I thought maybe I would ended up in jail. 

Especially after an article was published in the Daily Star. (You can read the article here).

I didn't get any calls from the shop owner. And I didn't get a visit from the police.

Just a couple of days after the Daily Star article was published, this happend:

Someone crossed out all the entries with a black marker. Scratches were put in a way not to let anyone have space to write again.

It comes as a shock to me because it has very bad intentions. I would have imagined the shop owner painting over the project. Or even putting me in jail.

Instead this happened.


And this was the message written on the wall.


I'm not sure what me and Badra will do about the wall of Bliss street. One of the options is to paint over it ourselves and return it as it once was. 

We have more walls planned. And now it's time to move on.

Stay tuned for more Lebanon Would Be Better If projects near you.

And I'm making a virtual version of the project :) Away from black markers. And vandalism free ;)