Dubai, November 28, 2010: A recent study of the active internet users showed that we now contact more people in our personal life through social networks than we do through any other means including face to face contact, email and phone. The research entitled ‘WAVE 5 - The Socialization of Brands’ and conducted by UM, a leading global marketing communications firm shows that socially we stay in frequent contact with 38 people on average via social network. The study is the largest and longest running dedicated social media study in the world.
The research showed that Consumers in the region are not just finding info and shopping; they are contributing, writing, uploading pictures, videos, creating regular status updates and live streaming their every-day happenings. In addition to watching and sharing video clips online, using instant messenger, visiting a friend’s social network pages to reading blogs / weblogs, more and more people – an average of 60% in the last 6 months - in the region are creating new pages on social network sites.
Over half of the active internet users (who use the internet every day or every other day) in the region, own a laptop and have access to broadband. Almost 90% of them access the internet from home and less than 20% from a mobile device.
Wave 5 also identified over 540,000 social media amplifiers in the MENA region. These are active internet users who have more than 345 friends and followers (average active internet user has about 65), and enjoy a higher level of online activity on social networks. Their role is important as they act as influencers who are always attempting to change opinions and offer recommendations.
“Social media continues to change the way we interact with our peers and fundamentally impacts our thoughts, feelings, attitudes and behaviour. For marketing communication specialists, it is crucial to understand consumers’ social media usage, influence and motivation to help brands build equity, drive sales, increase loyalty and create brand endorsement,” said Paul Katrib, Regional Managing Director of UM MENA.
Most importantly, social networks enable active internet users to create a network of digital friends who share the same interests or needs. They enable them to acquire a sense of belonging to a group or community. The MENA results were impressive where 26% of the regular active internet users have joined at least one brand community compared with 57% who visited official company websites. Of those people who joined a brand community, 76% said they thought more positively of the brand as a result, 72% said they are more likely to buy the brand, 73% said they felt more loyal to the brand and 63% said they recommended others to join.
Katrib added: “It’s essential for brands to understand why and where different groups of consumers participate in this new world. It’s not merely a question of identifying the best places to target – the classic media planning/buying approach – but truly knowing what motivates them to be part of it. Understand that and brands can create campaigns, messages and communities that consumers want to be part of, spreading the message far and wide much more effectively than simply buying banners and buttons in these spaces.”
The Wave reports are a series of global research conducted annually to understand the complex and extremely dynamic nature of social media behaviour. They analyse the growing usage and diversified uptake of social media platforms and trends across the world. This year’s edition is the fifth and it covers 37,600 active internet users aged 16 - 54 from 54 countries, including 10 in the MENA region including Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, KSA, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Tunisia, and the UAE.
In the early editions, the report showed that social media enabled a large and active community to create and share this content with others. In the process the medium moved from being a primarily text-based medium to a fully audio visual one. A couple of years later, it was driving ever greater means and opportunity for consumers to influence their peers which dramatically influenced consumers decision making processes. By understanding the motivations behind the use of different social media platforms, it became evident that brands cannot treat all social media the same. Consumers were engaging with the various platforms as they met their specific needs and platforms met these needs differently.
This year’s findings were discussed by a panel formed by some of the region’s most dynamic social media experts. These included Raghu Venkataraman, Chief Strategy & Investments Officer at du, Dr. Baher Al Hakim, Master Chief of CloudAppers, Akanksha Goel, the founder of Socialize, and Edward Poultney, the Editor of AMEinfo.com, in addition to Tom Roychoudhury the CEO of Innovations.