By Tamara Pupic
Social media enables MENA SMEs to effectively reach and engage customers, partners, and other stakeholders.
Social media channels are increasingly important tools for most MENA SMEs, a new report has found.
The report titled Social Media as a Business Tool for SMEs in the Arab World, recently released by Orient Planet Research, revealed that Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn were the most popular social media channels among enterprises interested in leveraging social media to reach new customers across the highly diverse Arab market.
The report pointed out to the need to reinforce the presence of SMEs by creating more unique, visually attractive, and engaging posts on their respective accounts.
Nidal Abou Zaki, managing director at Orient Planet Group, said: “Social media presents itself as an invaluable tool for SMEs due to the wide range of benefits that it has to offer and at a reasonable cost.
“These online social channels offer connectivity and transparency for SMEs to gain a strong competitive advantage. They are especially crucial given that many SMEs do not have the same level of resources as larger corporations, and are not able to compete in terms of financial or human capital resources.
“According to recent studies, small businesses have a better chance to succeed through social media compared to their larger counterparts and our recently published report clearly highlights this.”
Many MENA SMEs are now transitioning their strategy to cover the digital world since the number of Internet users in the Arab world is poised to climb to about 226 million by 2018, according to the Arab Knowledge Economy Report 2015-2016.
Furthermore, a survey conducted by LinkedIn on the social media habits of SMEs in the GCC showed that 92 percent of more than 260 respondents were already on social media platforms. Five percent of those surveyed are now in the process of establishing their social media presence.
Ensuring the success of the SME sector is fundamental given that they are considered the backbone of the region’s economic growth.
A recent study on emerging markets done by global management consultancy A.T. Kearney shows that successful SMEs create jobs four times faster and drive revenues and gross domestic product(GDP) six times faster than large companies.
In the GCC alone, the same report predicts that the sector will contribute an additional $100 billion to GDP and up to 2 million jobs in the coming years.
In Dubai, SMEs represent 95 percent of all local establishments, accounting for 42 percent of the workforce and contributing around 40 percent to Dubai’s economy, while in Saudi Arabia, the sector contributes around 33 percent to GDP and comprises nearly 25 percent of the total labour force. The SME sector in Bahrain is more vibrant, accounting for 99 percent of the total registered companies in the country and employing over 421,000people, of which over 52,000 are Bahrainis.