Have you ever wondered how people in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) use technology, especially social media?
Social media usage, as well as long-term trends, have changed significantly during the pandemic.
Here are the five most exciting findings to keep in mind.
The Middle East loves social media
Although usage varies, social media users in the broader Middle East and Africa (MEA) region spend more than three and a half hours a day on these platforms.
They spread the time over several different channels. According to Forbes, internet users in the region have an average of 8.4 social media accounts, rising to 10.5 accounts in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which has “the highest number of social media accounts per person in the world”.
Legacy platforms remain relevant
Newer, more visual social networks are popular, especially in the wealthier Gulf region, where smartphone penetration and incomes are higher.
However, older networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, remain highly relevant in North Africa and Turkey, where their acceptance is growing.
Egypt is the most populous country in the region, with over 100 million people, and Facebook’s ninth largest national market in the world, with 44 million users.
Libya, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar are among the countries with the highest levels of Facebook reach, relative to population, according to data from We Are Social and Hootsuite.
Facebook also continues to grow in several North African markets: Morocco, Algeria and Egypt are in the top 10 markets where the platform is growing the fastest.
Meanwhile, Turkey (6th), Saudi Arabia (8th) and Egypt (18th) are among the 20 largest markets for Twitter.
Moreover, Lebanese pop artist Elissa is the most influential figure in the Arab world on Twitter and the only one from the region to be among the 50 most powerful international influencers on this social network, according to a report published by Brandwatch.
Networking Habits Redefine Other Behaviors
The adoption of social media has also begun to influence other consumer and media behaviors.
More than three quarters (79%) of Arab citizens aged 18 to 24 say they consume information via social networks. This is an increase from 25% in 2015, according to the latest Arab youth survey.
Social networks also shape other activities. For example, users in Morocco (60%), Egypt (60%), Saudi Arabia (59%), Turkey (56%), Israel (52%) and United Arab Emirates (49%) ) are more likely to use networking as part of their brand research than the global average.
As e-commerce, online shopping and online gambling continue to grow, following the boost it received during the COVID-19 pandemic, this type of online behavior will only gain in popularity. importance.
Saudi Arabia is leading the regional adoption of online shopping during the pandemic, and the trend is expected to continue post-pandemic.
Regarding online gambling, in recent years, especially during the pandemic, this trend has increased in the Middle East due to restrictive laws prohibiting players from gambling in physical casinos.
Online gambling sites help users discover the best online casino sites, which are more convenient, easy to access and offer more games than physical casinos. The most popular online games are live dealer poker, roulette or blackjack, a immersive and exciting way to play blackjack on the Internet.
The impact of visual networks
Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt are among Snapchat’s 15 largest national markets in the world.
Apparently, in Saudi Arabia, more people watch Snapchat Discover content every day than any of the top 10 TV channels, before and during the pandemic.
With the rise of TikTok, the platform’s top influencers in the Gulf region grew their followers by an average of 65% between February and August 2020, with user engagement highest in Bahrain, Oman and Turkey. Saudi Arabia.
Another interesting fact is that 70% of Egyptian Internet users watch YouTube daily. As a result, the network last year launched YouTube Premium, an ad-free subscription service, allowing offline access.
This way, users can watch the videos they have downloaded and access background playback, whereby the audio continues to play even if a user exits the YouTube app.
More than half of MENA users were spending even more time on social media due to the pandemic.
Likewise, in the Middle East, WhatsApp and other messaging apps have grown since the pandemic due to social distancing.
In addition to encouraging people to spend more time on social networks, COVID-19 has also reminded us of the importance of social networks as sources of information.
Efforts to counter disinformation have created opportunities for civil society organizations and non-governmental organizations to embrace the networks as a critical channel for communicating with the public.
In Sudan, for example, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations International Children’s Fund and the World Health Organization have implemented WhatsApp COVID-19 alerts in Arabic and English. The aim was to provide advice on how to stay safe, frequently asked questions and advice on how to protect yourself.
Elsewhere, Palestine’s Mada Center, Iraq’s Tech 4 Peace and Lebanon’s Maharat Foundation addressed rumors of COVID-19 on social media and highlighted specific sources of public health information.
Governments have also relied on social media, using multiple platforms to deliver potentially life-saving messages.
The impact of these efforts and the importance of social media as a source of information and entertainment in the region suggests that as a channel of engagement, these platforms will continue to be important for a wide range of people. long after the pandemic is over. .