The human element is fast eroding from daily lives as a new social media study for the region indicates that 52 per cent of respondents are more comfortable engaging with people online than in person, while 51 per cent would choose social networks over phone communication.
Conducted by marketing agency Performics Mena, the ‘Life on Demand’ study on the growing role of social media in the Middle East collected online data across 2,042 respondents, aged between 15-64 years, with at least one social network account and living in the UAE, Egypt and 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 per cent of respondents saying they have more than two social media accounts and 60 per cent stating that they visit a social network daily.
“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’.”
The survey indicated that people across the Middle East are currently joining Twitter faster than any other social media network.
Results also saw that respondents prefer to interact with each other via social media channels over other modes of communication: 64 per cent would rather talk to distant friends on social networks; 51 per cent even favour social networking to talk to close friends; 52 per cent are more comfortable engaging with people online than in person; 51 per cent 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 per cent share jokes or cartoons, and 49 per cent 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.
The ‘Life on Demand’ survey also revealed that more than 30 per cent 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 per cent of participants went with pictures, 58 per cent chose videos, 52 per cent opted for jokes, cartoons or memes, 52 per cent selected status updates, and 50 per cent veered towards links to articles.
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