There’s certainly no question about the significance of social media worldwide, and the impact it has had on our lives and the way we do business – at a global scale. All over the world marketers have tapped into social media as a way to find and address customer issues in near real-time, manage their brand’s reputation, measure the success of their marketing initiatives, and most importantly, create a two-way dialogue with their customers and community. In the West social media has taken off at lightning speed, and marketers have evolved with our customers to capitalize on the incredible marketing and public relations opportunities social media has to offer. However, on account of political, cultural and socioeconomic reasons – some regions are not quite there yet.
The Middle East is still at the very first stage of listening. Brands and governments are mostly focused on listening to control conversations rather than to improve the customer experience. However, the Arab Spring has significantly raised the popularity of social networking among the youth, who actively use Twitter and Facebook to discuss politics. Throughout the Middle East, the number of social media users are growing at a staggering rate – and brands are starting to take notice.
Here are a few fascinating facts on the social media landscape of the Middle East:
1. In 2012 Facebook users in the Middle East grew by almost a third, reaching 45.4 million users
2. The Arab region has close to 2.1 million active Twitter users tweeting 17 million tweets a day
3. LinkedIn reported four million Arab users in 2012
4. In March 2012, Arab Twitter users generated over 172 million tweets in Arabic and English, using tweets that contained the hashtags ‘Bahrain’ and ‘Syria’
5. One in four Arab Facebook users come from Egypt, while Saudi Arabia and the UAE make up 80% of users in the Gulf region
Innovative, forward-thinking brands like Emirates airline have started to lead the way into social media through thought leadership in the Middle East, providing other brands with excellent examples of social media best practices and strategies. Emirates, a relatively new player on social media, has seen its online engagement efforts grow in repute and popularity through its various engaging social media marketing initiatives. Last year, John Saydam, Head of Social Media at Emirates won the title of SimpliFlying Hero, an award SimpliFlying gives out each month to recognize the top social media campaigns in the airline industry.