As we head towards the end of the year, we decided to look at the world’s most fascinating regions to provide insights into how social media shapes industries and businesses in the Middle East and North Africa. Overall, this region shows a healthy adoption of Facebook, which is now a key social media platform.
In many MENA countries, Facebook is doing remarkably well. Since the beginning of 2012, the region grew 29%, adding more than 10M new registered users. Qatar, Libya and Iraq, which are also the top three fastest moving countries, added more than 115%, 86% and 81% new users respectively. In Egypt, 2.5M new people have joined the Facebook platform since January 2012, representing the highest absolute user growth. Egypt is also the region’s most penetrated country with 17M online Facebook population.
Based on the region’s industry statistics, brands in almost all types of businesses have some social media presence. The biggest is the Media industry with an average page size reaching nearly half a million, followed by Ecommerce, Airlines and FMCG. Quite understandably, alcohol brands have the fewest number of fans in MENA countries. What about their level of customer care? Ecommerce, Airlines and Electronics industries would qualify for the Socially Devoted status. However, Electronics and Telecom dominate the category as having the largest number of brands with open walls to allow customers and users to interact and ask questions.
Despite the positive growth trends, it is questionable whether the region and the businesses live the social life to its full potential. Many countries show healthy penetration statistics, however the social marketing used by brands has some room for improvement. More than half of the industries in MENA would not qualify for Socially Devoted status since their response rates are below 65%. Based on the very low number of questions that brands received from users during the last 30 days, we could assume that social managers have either closed their Facebook walls, updated the walls infrequently or posted content that didn’t stimulate the conversation. According to a recent poll, 9 in 10 respondents said they would participate in brands’ social media activities, if given the chance.
Overall, it’s clear that Facebook is becoming an inherent part of lives, business and people in MENA countries. Based on statistics that show a high number of social interactions between the top brands and their customers, it is evident that marketers are increasingly becoming aware of Facebook’s role in driving business growth. It is encouraging to see such a positive trend especially in countries outside of the world’s largest economies. It proves that marketers in this region already acknowledge the benefits that high quality relationships can have on customers in social media.