By Neil King
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
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
The latest report is part of an ongoing series, begun in
2011, and explores a number of questions, including:
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
A growing number of people in Europe have already cancelled their "social" network accounts again, or have decided not to register in the first place. These "social" network do not stick to even the most basic data protection laws and regulations, and are known to be grabbing and selling personal data. There are known cases where job applicants were denied a job because their (e.g.) facebook profile revealed too much of the persons' privacy (including inappropriate picture), creating fears in possible employers that this might also affect the privacy of company internal matters which might be revealed through such a source.
Only yesterday, one of the regionel governments in Germany has issued explicit orders that teachers and school are NOT allowed anymore to communicate through facebook & co., not even with their own students.