Marketing agency Performics MENA last July conducted a “Life on Demand” study on the growing role of social media in the Middle East, and its ever-evolving impact on daily life. Data for the survey was collected online, and included a staggering 2,042 respondents – aged 15-64 – with at least one social network account and living in Egypt, the UAE and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The study found that social media today plays a pivotal part in people’s lives across the Middle East, with as many as 61 percent of respondents saying they have more than two social media accounts and 60 percent stating that they visit a social network daily.
The truth is, these figures will continue to rise; after all, with the growth of social media, participants have discovered a tool that they simply can’t live without.
“Social media is gaining popularity – at incredible speed – here in the Middle East,” says Jamil Zablah, managing director of Performics MENA. “It has redefined communication and reconfigured many aspects of our lives including our daily activities, how we conduct business and how we engage with each other. The study indicates that people in the Middle East are quickly embracing social media and its ability to keep us increasingly connected as well as make life happen ‘on demand.’”
Today’s various social media platforms each boast distinct characteristics and, according to Performics’ ‘Life on Demand’ survey; people across the Middle East are currently joining Twitter faster than any other social media network.
The emergence of social media has also inevitably created paradigm shifts in relationships, and revolutionized how individuals stay in contact with one another. In fact, the study found that most respondents prefer to interact with each other via social media channels over other modes of communication: 64 percent would rather talk to distant friends on social networks; 51 percent even favor social networking to talk to close friends; 52 percent are more comfortable engaging with people online than in person; and, 51 percent would choose social networks over telephone communication.
Regarding online activities in general, the analysis showed that most participants log on to the Internet to use search tools, for research projects and for access to entertainment. As for the nature of their posts on social media channels, 50 percent share jokes, cartoons or memes, and 49 percent write status updates.
Half of the respondents also post religious content on their social media accounts, while the younger males, in particular, use them to show pictures and user videos.
In this day and age, thanks to social media, consumer behavior online can be tracked, monitored and measured – and this is key to gauging reactions to brands and products. The ‘Life on Demand’ survey revealed that more than 30 percent of participants ‘Like’ a brand on Facebook because they are regular customers, want to know about new offerings, require insider knowledge or are searching for recent company and brand posts. Furthermore, on average, people ‘Like’ a total of five brands.
“With constant exposure to consumer trends, brands now have unprecedented access to a wealth of data – further reducing the possibility of a disconnect with the target audience,” adds Zablah. “In effect, this is essential as real-time data exchange can help maximize consumer engagement.”
When asked, “How likely are you to engage with each of the following types of posts when they come from a brand you ‘Like’?” Seventy percent of participants went with pictures, 58 percent chose videos, 52 percent opted for jokes, cartoons or memes, 52 percent selected status updates, and, 50 percent veered towards links to articles.
“This ground-breaking study by Performics provides critical insight into social media behavior in the Middle East today,” explains Zablah. “These findings can be used to help brands effectively cultivate consumer engagement, create successful multi-channel initiatives and interact across various customer touch points.”