New Media Academy releases a comprehensive report on the use of social media in the region
New Media Academy’s first social media report, How the Middle East Used Social Media in 2020, presents the most important trends that dominated social media platforms during 2020 and reflects the dramatic increase in usage of these platform in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic and its repercussions.
The report relied on more than 200 sources and references, and followed extensive research conducted by a group of efficient and dedicated analysts and researchers in the fields of public policy, arts and journalism. The research team was led by Professor Damian Radcliffe, an experienced digital analyst, consultant, journalist and an avid media researcher with an extensive interest in Middle East and North African Studies; and Hadil Abuhmaid a dedicated researcher in media studies and national identity, passionate about cinema and arts and holder of BS in Journalism and Political Science from Bir Zeit University in Palestine, and currently working on her PhD thesis at the University of Oregon in the United States of America.
The report highlighted the dependence of 79 percent of Arab youth on various social media platforms as a primary source for their daily news. It also indicated the significant rise in fanbase for some of the top-rated influencers on TikTok with a 65 percent increase between February and August 2020.
Companies use of instant messaging applications such as WhatsApp and virtual meeting applications such as Zoom and Teams, grew noticeably after remote working options became widely normalised due to the spread of Covid-19 and social distancing measures.
Tech companies, social media platforms and instant messaging apps still ranked among the top companies in terms of value. Google, WhatsApp and YouTube ranked in the top 10 by audience in each of the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
The report also showed that the UAE recorded the highest number of social media users regionally, with an average of 10 accounts per person on various social media platforms; whereas Egypt ranked first in the region and ninth in the world in Facebook users with more than 44 million accounts in October 2020. Snapchat reached nearly 67 million users monthly in the region, with an annual increase of 38 percent by October 2020. On the same platform, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Egypt were among the 13 most significant markets with a growing number of users of the app.
Statistics showed that the contribution of the digital economy does not exceed 4 percent of the Arab national income combined compared to 22 percent for the global average, despite the fact that digital economy today has become a significant part of any country's macroeconomic resources and enhancing it has become a necessity. The report cited a number of reasons for this decline, most notably the poor digital content available in Arabic which amounts to no more than 5% amidst global expectations that over 50 percent of job opportunities will emerge from digital economy by the year 2022.
The volume of influencer marketing spending (marketing through media influencers), has doubled to more than $ 14 billion in the past two years globally; but remained the same in the Arab region, but with few exceptions similar to the partnership agreements between New Media Academy and a number of far-reaching influencers and content creators.
New Media Academy aims to make accessible real-time findings to institutions and individuals alike, to help them grow their presence in the digital space and tell the best version of the story they wish to tell, supported with the most accurate and up to date data to build effective communication strategies that can be applied across government and private sectors.