Gulf SMEs growing social media presence: survey

Research by LinkedIn shows that 92 percent of SMEs are on social media platforms
Gulf SMEs growing social media presence: survey
By Neil King
Wed 29 Jul 2015 12:19 PM

Professional network LinkedIn has released the findings of its first ever study into the social media habits of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the GCC.

Taking data from more than 260 SMEs, the company found that 92 percent of respondents are already on social media platforms, with a further five percent preparing to establish a presence.

The findings also show that the SME sector in the Gulf has experienced a strong growth phase with a majority of respondents reporting an increase in customer numbers (72 percent), increased overall revenues (71 percent) and increased overall profitability (63 percent).

Of the SMEs surveyed, 16 percent are in ‘hyper-growth’, having experienced significant increase in overall revenue over the previous year, while 55 percent were in ‘growth’ phase.

Jake Thomas, head of LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, MENA, said: “The fact that 71 percent of SMEs across the Gulf states are in growth or hyper-growth mode says a lot about the competitive business climate in the region.

“This will only be amplified in the UAE with the programme announced by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Makhtoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, which will see a Federal Council for SMEs, incentives for entrepreneurs, and relevant technical and marketing support, with a vision of strengthening SMEs to contribute to 70 percent of the UAE’s GDP by 2021.

“Nearly all of these businesses are already unlocking the potential of social media channels for their continued success, showing a preference for the innovate tools offered by these platforms to effectively reach and engage customers, partners, and other stakeholders.”

The survey’s respondents cited the ease of generating business was the driving factor in the adoption of social media, with 48 percent saying that lead generation has contributed to a growth in customer numbers and 43 percent crediting enhanced lead generation as the driver for overall revenue growth.

Social media advertising is also bringing SMEs online, with 34 percent gaining customers through these campaigns, and 32 percent directly linking their social ad spend to revenue growth.

The survey revealed that 51 percent of hyper-growth SMEs plan to increase their spending on lead generation and 57 percent on broad social media spend, while 41 percent of non-growth SMEs also planning to increase spend on lead generation, and 53 percent upping their overall social media spend.

Some 57 percent of SMEs reported using social media for at least one financial purpose.

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