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GCC businesses use social media to achieve their marketing objectives
November 19, 2016 | 1:36 PM
by Times News Service
 
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Muscat: Increasing Internet penetration, growing young population and mobile subscription rate, it is evident that the number of social media users in GCC will grow and hence it could be expected that the activity of the businesses on social media will also increase and also take on new forms of interaction with the consumers.

The Marmore report stated that based on the increasing Internet penetration, growing young population and mobile subscription rate, it is evident that the number of social media users in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will grow and hence it could be expected that the activity of the businesses on social media will also increase and also take on new forms of interaction with the consumers.

Over the past decade, social media has exhibited an exponential penetration into the daily lives of individuals, the operations of businesses, and the interaction between governments and their respective people, Marmore MENA Intelligence, a subsidiary of Kuwait Financial Centre (Markaz), said in a recently released report discussing the usage of social media by GCC businesses.

From 2000 to 2015 the Internet penetration grew by compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27 per cent in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, registering second highest growth behind Africa, the report said.



The Internet penetration in GCC countries is on an increasing trend, and is catching up with the developed countries. This increasing Internet penetration and increasing presence of youth on social media are opening up new avenues for companies to market their products and services.

Like in the developed countries, the businesses in GCC are also becoming more aware of social media marketing. The business in GCC can leverage the social media for achieving objectives such as business growth, brand enhancement and as a marketing tool.



Retail, telecom, e-commerce, electronics, airlines, FMCG food, and retail food are some of the industries that have engaged the most with their customers using social media. In Saudi Arabia, online entertainment has tasted success, in the form of huge popularity of channels such as Sa7i and Eysh Elly on YouTube. Retail industry is one of the top industries on Facebook in almost all the GCC countries.

As an increasing number of internet users utilise social media to interact with and reach out to brands, the businesses in GCC are also increasing their presence and are being very active on social media. The most used social media channels for businesses in the region are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

However, Facebook is the most preferred medium in the GCC region. In GCC countries, the twitter usage is relatively high compared to countries like Germany, India and USA. The average number of followers for top 20 brands in twitter in Saudi Arabia is much more than that of UK, Germany and India. Also the social media presence of Gulf SMEs is on the rise in the region.

LinkedIn conducted a study in 2015 on 260 SMEs, to know their presence on social media. According to it, 92 per cent of the respondents are already on social media platforms, with a further five per cent preparing to establish a presence.

Moving away from traditional media, digital media has been increasing and has become the preferred medium for marketing of the products and services.

According to the estimates by McKinsey, by 2019, the digital spending will account for more than 50 per cent of overall media spend. By 2017, digital marketing consisting of internet and mobile advertising will surpass the TV and will become the largest advertising category.

Among all the regions North America spends the highest amount on digital ad spending followed by Asia-Pacific. The digital ad spending in Middle East & Africa is lowest among all the regions.

Even in terms of digital ad spending per network user, North America leads with $197 per Internet user in 2015 followed by Western Europe. The digital ad spending per network user in the Middle East & Africa is lowest among all the regions. However, the encouraging factor is the growth in ad spending on social media is highest among the MENA countries.

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