Social Media in the MENA Region
It’s often said that the Middle East is quite far behind when it comes to the digital arena. I’ve said it myself when presenting to my customers. And it’s true. Being kind we are about 10 years behind, specifically when it comes to infrastructure to support things like e-commerce. That’s both online and offline infrastructure. The other major stumbling block here is the lack of awareness and understanding of what the digital market place actually is and what it offers.
In spite of this – there is one area of the digital marketing jigsaw, that like elsewhere in the world is penetrating deep into this market and that’s social media. Alone, the various channels are at best great traffic driving resources, or community building resources. The lack of understanding of how to use them productively means that whilst penetration – shown as accounts and profiles/users seem high – they are still in their infancy when it comes to optimal usage.
Facebook, Twitter LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+ are the ones most reel off when asked, Instagram, Vine and Snapchat are a couple that are becoming more mainstream now and of course the bookmarking sites like Reddit, Delicious and StumbleUpon are starting to also become part of the vocabulary when you start talking social. These really are the tip of the iceberg, and for some reason, the 140 character tweets has really found a home in the Middle East. In Saudi Arabia, 41% of internet users are on Twitter and as a result are actually number 1 in the world when it comes to Twitter penetration proportionate to area and population. A 72% smartphone penetration in the Kingdom is most definitely contributing to this. The United Arab Emirates is next in line when it comes to Twitter – 1.7 million accounts and a mobile penetration rate of over 230% at last count.
What all this shows is that the region is not afraid to get stuck into social media, it’s being used as a means of communication, a way to connect, a way to reach out and in some cases a way to ask your following for directions when you end up in an area of Bur Dubai that you aren’t quite familiar with. It has many positive uses and as such, it has had a very high adoption rate.
In fact the fastest growing demographic on Twitter globally is actually the 55-64 year age bracket, it’s grown 79% since 2012 and on Facebook and Google+, the 45-54 years olds are the fastest growing demographics, Facebook has jumped 46% and Google+ 56%. So with this active engagement from all ages it seems – The youngsters these days are being born with an iPad in hand, and the older generation are jumping on the social media band wagon – online safety should be of paramount importance.
And yet even with over a billion users, and over 1 million sites integrating with it, 25% of Facebook users don’t even look at their privacy settings and 23% of users check their accounts more than 5 times or more a day!
So our thought for the day today is ‘Are you safeguarding your digital presence?’ If you are, that’s fantastic. We task you this week to go and teach someone else about their privacy settings on one of their social media channels. If you aren’t, then whatever your age, have a think about some of the implications of having your entire online life, available to anyone and everyone. Unfortunately in this day and age you don’t leave your front door unlocked, specifically to stop people accessing your property and possessions, and yet online you welcome all and sundry in with open arms – even if you’ve never ever met them before. Surely that’s worth a minutes thought?