These are the key growth areas for social media in the Middle East

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This is an extract from my new report “State of Social Media, Middle East: 2018,” which was published last month. Read the Executive Summary here.

Facebook’s Market Dominance

Facebook continues to dominate social media use across the region. Across the wider Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, 265.4 million people now use Facebook.

Jonathan Labin, Facebook’s Managing Director for MENA and Pakistan, stated last year that the network has 164 million active monthly users in the Arab world. Five years ago, in 2013, Facebook had 56 million users in MENA.

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Annual Growth of Social Media Users. Source: Hootsuite and We Are Social1

Saudi Arabia’s Social Media growth spurt

Saudi Arabia (KSA) enjoys the highest annual growth rate of social media users anywhere in the world.

Data from We Are Social and Hootsuite (see chart above), revealed social media users in KSA grew by 32% vs. a worldwide average of 13% (Jan 2017-Jan 2018).18

Morocco, at 14%, was the only other country in MENA where social media take up during this period was above the global average.

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Social Network use. Source: Pew Research Center

Levant nations lead the world for take-up

Jordan and Lebanon have the highest percentage of adults using social media in the world.

According to a report by the Pew Research Center, 75% of adults in Jordan and 72% in Lebanon use social media.

That compares with 68% in the United States, 60% in the UK and China, and 39% in Japan.

Other MENA nations with high levels of social network use include Israel (68%) and Turkey (63%).

Both Jordan and Lebanon saw rapid uptakes in social media usage during the past two years.

Between 2015–2017, social network use in Lebanon grew by 23%, the fastest rate in the countries Pew surveyed.

It also increased by 15% in Jordan, the third fastest rate of growth, on a par with usage in Vietnam, another rapidly growing digital economy.

Other interesting stats from Pew’s data:

  • In Tunisia, only 16% of those aged over 37 years old use social media, compared to 64% aged 18–36.
  • Turkey (86%) and Lebanon (90%) are among the most active social net- working countries for younger users (age 18–36).
  • Only 28% of women in Tunisia use social media, compared to 49% of men. This was the widest gender gap in the 39 countries Pew studied.

Read more by downloading the full study today from the University of Oregon Scholars’ Bank, or view it online via Scribd, SlideShare, ResearchGate and Academia.Edu.

Chambers Professor in Journalism @uoregon | Fellow @TowCenter @CardiffJomec @theRSAorg | Write @wnip @ZDNet | Host Demystifying Media podcast

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