Ala Shashaa, Data and Insights Director at the regional digital marketing agency Netizency, shares with Communicate a social recap analyzing the discussions in the GCC’s public sphere and highlighting the most relevant trends.
At the end of each month, we, at Netizency, study the popular conversations happening on social media and online platforms across the Gulf to highlight the most relevant trends and analyze the discussions that have gained momentum. To do so effectively, we’ve identified a group of keywords in Arabic and English that define conversations according to the most relevant industries in the region. We then classify them according to the volume of mentions and analyze the topics of conversation across social and online media between the 1st day of the month to the last.
April witnessed an electrifying surge in Electronics chatter, with its volume nearly doubling compared to March solidifying its top place. While the rankings of most categories remained relatively unchanged compared to last month, there was one notable shift in the top five: The Health conversation made a leap forward to claim the fourth spot overtaking Finance.
As usual, we are excited to present the most talked-about topics during April. In this analysis, we will delve into the top three categories and explore what made them stand out. Get ready to dive in!
Electronics & Technology
At the outset of the article, we teased the spike in the Electronics conversation outpacing all other categories by a significant margin. So, what’s the catalyst behind this spike? The answer is simple: Ramadan and Eid giveaways driven by brands and influencers offering prizes ranging from iPhones and iPads to Apple Watches and PlayStations. These giveaways caused a flurry of engagement from Gulf-based users vying for a chance to win. Interestingly enough, this trend is hardly a new one. Our past articles, which are available on Communicate, demonstrate that the conversation around Electronics consistently peaks during Ramadan and Eid. This is largely due to the competitions that are held during this period. Consequently, brands looking to make a splash during these occasions should consider joining the giveaway frenzy and watch their engagement and share of voice soar. However, they shouldn’t stop there – giveaways alone won’t guarantee a lasting audience, it’s just the start. To retain followers and encourage them to stay engaged with your brand, having a robust content strategy is crucial, particularly after the competition has ended.
The Electronics conversation in April also saw a surge of interest in Elon Musk, with a plethora of stories catapulting him to the top of the discussion among GCC users and news outlets. For starters, he inexplicably changed Twitter’s logo to that of Dogecoin, which caused the cryptocurrency to immediately peak in value. Next, a video went viral of him giving a scathing rebuttal to a BBC reporter’s unfounded claim that Twitter had become a breeding ground for hate speech under Musk’s watch. Additionally, his removal of Twitter’s legacy verified checkmark and making it an exclusive subscription feature, along with the financial hit he took after a SpaceX rocket exploded and Tesla’s earnings fell short of expectations were all part of the buzz. However, the biggest news that received wide attention in the GCC was around his plan to launch a new “truth-seeking” generative AI startup to take on the likes of Microsoft’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard. Users’ comments on the relevant content showed their anticipation for the upcoming tool, wondering what it might look like, and what kind of digital feats it could achieve.
Earth Day also caused a stir in this category’s conversation this month, with brands’ actively posting about their eco-friendly practices to mark the occasion. Among the relevant discussion, OPPO stood out for its innovative self-built green data center exemplifying the brand's commitment to achieving carbon neutrality. Additionally, Sony Xperia’s social media posts showcased the brand’s sustainability efforts as part of its ‘Road to Zero’ global vision, while the Ministry of Transport in Qatar made headlines with its ambitious plan to switch 35% of its fleet and 100% of its public transport buses to electric vehicles by 2030. The occasion also saw Balenciaga launch an AR tool that educates users on regenerative agriculture, providing a virtual experience that showcases sustainable techniques to improve soil health. All these conversation themes strongly illustrate the growing interest in environmentally conscious practices, with Earth Day serving as a reminder that the movement is no longer just a buzzword, but a force to be reckoned with.
Up next: Key conversation trends in the Entertainment dashboard!
April was a wild ride in the world of Entertainment in the GCC, and one of the main drivers of conversation was the Eid al-Fitr festivities. From fashion influencers showing off their stylish Eid outfits complete with exclusive discount codes all over their captions, to event pages hyping up concerts featuring big names like Mohammed Abdu and Abdulmajeed Abdulla, the conversation was diverse and lively. TikTok was ablaze with clips of concert-goers belting out their favorite tunes, leaving us all feeling the FOMO. Travel brands were also part of the action, offering up special Eid packages on social media targeting those looking to escape the hustle and bustle, while entertainment social accounts hyped upcoming movie releases and firework shows marking the occasion.
It was also Barbie mania in April! Upon the release of the official character posters for the upcoming “Barbie” movie, social media turned into a glittering, magical world of pink, sparkles, and all things plastic fantastic. The movie poster featuring each cast member in a sparkly circular frame with a tagline that reflects their character’s values quickly became a viral meme. Brands and users alike immediately joined the fantastical world of Barbie, causing the Entertainment conversation to spike through the roof. One of our favorite submissions was from Motorola Arabia promoting their magenta-colored Moto Edge 30 Fusion, but there were a LOT of user-generated memes on the “This Barbie is” trend that made us laugh so hard. It certainly did take social media by storm, leaving social media managers scrambling to jump on yet another trend.
Furthermore, Netflix stirred up a hornet’s nest in the Entertainment conversations upon the release of its new Cleopatra documentary trailer. Negative sentiments mounted on our listening dashboards sparking backlash over the streaming platform’s casting choices where many detractors believed that it was “falsifying Egyptian history”. We’ve seen comments from users on relevant posts noting the discrepancy in Netflix's casting for "The Crown," which bore a striking resemblance to Queen Elizabeth and Princess Diana, leading to suggestions that the Cleopatra cast was deliberately inaccurate. News outlets in the GCC actively shared news about the controversy, and the conversation specifically peaked after an Egyptian lawyer took legal action against Netflix, accusing "Queen Cleopatra" of violating media laws and promoting Afrocentrism to erase the Egyptian identity. There were a lot of posts about the controversy, and GCC users participated by voicing their support for the outrage.
Let’s shift our focus to Education now!
Throughout the month, and in the spirit of Ramadan, we’ve seen a rise in content related to religious education across this category’s conversation. This included prayers, Quranic recitation tips, stories of the prophets, and more. Such content was buzzing the Education conversations throughout the month and captured a warm welcome from users in the GCC.
Additionally, an interesting study by the Sharjah Private Education Authority on the impact of a four-day working week and a three-day weekend for schools gained momentum in the Education conversations during April. The key learning of the study showed a 77% increase in academic achievement and a 78% increase in social skills and interactions among students. UAE-based users reacted positively to the news, with many expressing their acceptance of the study’s findings and hoping this scheme will be implemented in schools and workspaces across the Emirates.
The 35th edition of the Global Education and Training Exhibition (GETEX) was yet another major talking point in the UAE's Education conversation during the month. UAE-based online news outlets provided extensive coverage of the exhibition, which was inaugurated by His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan and attended by dignitaries, heads of various universities and schools, and around 150 top-ranking educational institutions. The event featured several activities, including the chance for participants to compare different institutions’ course options and other admission benefits, as well as to participate in new offerings from GETEX, such as the Academia-Industry Alliance and Conference, Innovathon Competition, and Tech Workshops.
Finally, another topic that garnered some attention last month across the Education conversation is Qatar Charity and the Qatar Red Crescent Society after sending a plane carrying 60 tonnes of educational material, as well as humanitarian and food aid to Afghanistan. The assistance comes within the framework of Qatar’s endeavors and its firm commitment to provide support and stand by the Afghan people and provide them with the urgent necessary needs. News sources were highlighting that Qatar has recently hosted talks on the future of education in Afghanistan and the challenges and obstacles facing it, with the participation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Education Above All Foundation, the Afghan Ministry of Education, UNICEF and Education Cannot Wait. Overall, users expressed positive sentiments toward Qatar's efforts to support the Afghan people across several aspects.
Our monthly roundup has come to a close! But, you can get your weekly fix by subscribing to our exclusive newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest trends. Until then, see you next month!