The truth about social media growth

If you needed proof that social media is one of the most effective ways of getting your message out to an ever-increasing audience, then the Arab Social Media Report has it in abundance
The truth about social media growth
Journalists sit in front of an illuminated "like" symbol from the Facebook Inc. social networking website during a news conference at the Armani Hotel to announce the opening of a Facebook office in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Wednesday, May 30, 2012. Facebook Inc, which raised $16 billion this month in the biggest initial share sale for a technology company in history, today started a sales office in Dubai to serve the Middle East and North Africa. (Bloomberg)
By Neil King
Wed 24 Jul 2013 02:43 PM

Published in June this year, the Arab Social Media Report is
a telling document. Put together with the aim of informing “a better
understanding of the impact of social media on development and growth in the
Arab region,” the report’s findings make exciting reading for businesses already
using social media, and serve as a wake-up call to those lagging
behind.

The latest report is part of an ongoing series, begun in
2011, and explores a number of questions, including:

  • What are the penetration trends of social
    networking service in the Arab region?
  • What is the growth rate and what is the
    demographic and gender breakdown?
  • What factors affect the adoption of these
    platforms in different Arab countries?
  • What is the impact of these phenomena on
    citizen engagement and social inclusion?
  • What is the impact of the new social
    dynamics influenced by social media on innovations and entrepreneurship in Arab
    societies?

In its own words, it hopes that the findings “shed light on
the role social media plays in the societal transformations taking place in the
Arab world.” For our purposes, it’s worth looking at the speed of growth and
rate of penetration social media highlighted within its pages.

Facebook

There’s no getting away from it; Facebook is still on the
rise. Even after all these years, it is still attracting huge numbers of users
who are becoming increasingly prepared to live every aspect of life and work
through its blue and white pages.

Consider this statistic: the total number of Facebook users
in the Arab world by the end of May 2013 was 54,552,875, up from 45,194,452 in
June 2012. This is an increase of nearly ten million people in one year.

The country average for Facebook penetration went up from
twelve percent to nineteen percent in the same time-frame, with the UAE
registering the highest penetration in the region at 41.7
percent.

With so many people continuing to flock to Facebook, it is no
surprise businesses are building, improving and marketing their brand’s Facebook
profiles. And now than ever, if you are not one of those businesses, you are
losing out on a vast number of potential clients and customers.

Twitter

The short and sweet manifestation of the tweet makes it an
advertising tool that’s hard to master, but one which can bring huge benefits.
The ability of people to retweet or use hashtags to trend a topic means your
business could be seen by huge numbers of people in a very short space of time,
whether it’s a straight-down-the-line advert, some words of wisdom, a comment
about current affairs, or anything in between.

The report records that the Arab world now has 3,766,160
users, with 1.9 million in Saudi Arabia alone.

Between them, they generated an estimated 335,792,000 million
tweets in March, or 10,832,000 tweets per day. If you miss out on being one of
those millions of brief communications, then you’re missing out on a golden
opportunity to spread the word about your company.

Like Facebook, Twitter is growing in prominence, with Saudi
Arabia registering a 128 percent growth in users in one year, Egypt 75 percent,
and the UAE 52 percent. Don’t miss out on the increased interest in the
140-character tool.

LinkedIn

It may not have experienced the same kind of growth as
Facebook and Twitter over the past year, but LinkedIn’s numbers are still on the
rise.

Across the Arab world, users of the Business-orientated
social media platform have gone up from 4,294,484 in June 2012 to 4,716,515 in
May 2013.

Its penetration gives a clearer picture of how popular it is
becoming, going up from two percent to six percent, which easily beats Twitter’s
average of 1.63 percent across the region’s 22 countries.

The importance of LinkedIn to businesspeople has long been
documented, but it’s clear that it is more relevant than ever, with more people
than ever signing up.

Google+ & YouTube

While Google+ is much younger than its competitors, it has
already garnered a massive amount of support, racking up 500 million users in
the Arab region, with 235 million daily active users sharing more than one
billion items every day.

YouTube continues to be a global phenomenon, with 72 hours of
video uploaded every minute, and more than four billion hours watched every
month.

In the Arab region 285 million videos are viewed every day,
and more than two hours of video uploaded every minute, making it an attractive
proposition for businesses willing to think differently about how to market
their materials.

Overall, the social media landscape is growing as quickly as
it ever has. The number of users is growing, as is penetration, and people are
integrating the various platforms into their lives much more
readily.

Businesses can’t ignore this – especially start-ups and SMEs
who need to be on the forefront of technological advances in order to win a
share of the market, and who need to save money by finding alternatives to
entering traditional markets.

The growth of social media is a blessing for start-ups, but
only as long as they are willing to embrace developments every step of the way.

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