The social media landscape in the Middle East and North Africa has been an evolving affair. The ease of access and the two-way communication technology has fostered increased interaction and dialogue with people not only using this medium to communicate with their relatives/friends regularly but also for engaging with brands and commenting on larger religious, societal, and government issues.
While the above statement holds true on a global level too, for a region that is sometimes considered not really open to free dialogue, the ushering of such kind of communication that is primarily initiated and led by the layman is of momentous value.
To draw you in on the quick acceptance and proliferation of the media, let us look at a couple of statistics.
As you can see, the penetration and acceptance of social networking is high across MENA. The primary force behind this is, undeniably and not surprisingly, Facebook. In a study conducted by the Omnicon Media Group, respondents from UAE and Saudi Arabia said that they could not survive without Facebook (as compared to chatting, VoIP, Twitter, etc)!
While Facebook grew by 29% in MENA in the year 2012 adding over 12 million new registered users, Twitter and LinkedIn are not too far behind. By the end of 2012, Twitter in MENA saw 17 million tweets posted in Arabic every single day. This means that 1 billion tweets are generated from MENA in one particular language every two months. LinkedIn now has 5.8 million members in the Middle East; this number increased by 123% between October 2011 and October 2012
These numbers and figures are clearly indicative of the prominence of social networking in the region.
While the Social Media landscape in MENA is currently driven by Facebook, there is a lot of dynamism that the sector is witnessing. And this I say not just with respect to the social media platforms that the people are finding a liking too, but the way in which they are accepting and using the platforms.
For one, the use of internet enabled smartphones and the consumption of social media on smartphones is on the rise.
These figures and graphs are indicative of the fact that though the region has seen a massive inclusion of social media and internet in their daily lives, there is still room for a lot to be explored. It will be interesting to see how the sector involves and emerges.