‘Life on Demand’ Study Sheds Light on the Rising Impact of Social Media in the Middle East

The in-depth analysis reveals that the region is significantly accelerating in social media adoption – with 85% of the study’s respondents having at least one social media account

Performics MENA – the region’s leading performance marketing agency – recently 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 United Arab Emirates 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% of respondents saying they have more than two social media accounts and 60% 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,” said 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% would rather talk to distant friends on social networks; 51% even favor social networking to talk to close friends; 52% are more comfortable engaging with people online than in person; and, 51% 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% share jokes, cartoons or memes, and 49% 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.

Social media and consumer behavior

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% 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,” added 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’?” 70% of participants went with pictures, 58% chose videos, 52% opted for jokes, cartoons or memes, 52% selected status updates, and, 50% veered towards links to articles.

“This ground-breaking study by Performics provides critical insight into social media behavior in the Middle East today,” explained 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.”

Social media and business interaction

In an interview with Capital Business, Zablah expanded on the evolving relationship between business and social media.

“Social media is revolutionizing how people interact with brands. On average, respondents “like” five brands because they either like to read the company or brand’s posts, they shop there, or they want to be the first to know about the new products from the company, and have insider knowledge. In the age of participation marketing, businesses have to empower consumers to discover more about their brands and facilitate positive interactions,” Zablah said.

“In order to do so, social media provides the ideal platform for this connection. With social media, brands can get more insightful about who these consumers are, what they feel about the brand, and identify how they can improve their favorability. 67% are more likely to respond to communication or offers from the brands they like, he added.

Advertising has also changed in the face of social media interaction. As Zablah notes, “Mass media still and will always have a major role in brand building both in terms of exposure and recognition. Social media adds a more engaging layer to consumer interaction, where advertisers can gather more real time insights about their consumers and respond to them directly. This can be seen with the growth in ad spend on social platforms year on year and brands across all categories increasing their presence in the region.”

“So, what does the shift in consumer time spent on the internet, particularly social media, mean for marketers?” Zablah asks. Marketers should embrace the role that social networks play in our lives. Brands must create and share engaging and relevant content that fosters relationships. Brands must seek to encourage audience discovery and nurture participation. Social media is fluid, powerful – it impacts our relationships, and has changed how we communicate forever.”

Zablah also predicted that social media will only because more accessible and commonly used. “As we progress, social media interactions will be increasingly on the go, shifting from desktop to mobility devices; 57% access social networks daily through mobile. Marketers will need to adapt to this shift to provide a consistent and relevant experience across multiple devices and platforms.”

“Social media adds value to people’s lives by enabling them to stay connected with friends and family, and it empowers them by sharing in near real time the likes and activities of others. Social media is a tool for communicating and staying connected that people can’t live without. Over 60% of respondents have two or more social media accounts, with the majority having a Facebook account. 34% of those surveyed are very active on social networks and post often, while, more than 60% of respondents visit a social network every day,” Zablah said.


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