Social is important. This is no news to anybody in tourism but different markets in the world do react and respond to social in a different way. Interestingly, when looking at the overall time that consumers in certain regions spend online, the Middle East and Africa, known as MENA region, are actually lagging behind the world average amount of time. In June 2013, an average consumer in MENA spent 17.6 hours online which is considerably lower than the average US consumer spending well over 35 hours online. How does this then relate to social media and consumers’ usage of social networks? (eMarketer 2013).
KEY PRIORITIES IN MENA
Looking at the key priorities in the region, it is interesting to see that although MENA does have a low online consumption with an average of 17 hours online, social media is at the core of social media activity in the region. An incredible 29% of time online is actually spent on social networking, making it a key priority for marketers in the region. It is also particularly interesting when looking at what other regions are consuming with regards to social media. Latin America is leading the regions with 33% of time spend on social networks, followed by the Middle East and Africa which are the top priority regions for social. These are followed by Europe with 29%, North America with 13% and Asia-Pacific with 8%.
Why social? This is a question that many marketers have, as many consider social only as one part of many especially with mobile becoming increasingly important. In the Middle East and Africa, social and its role is mainly influenced by the Arab spring revolution that took place driven by social media. The fact that content can be distributed easily not only from one person to another but on social networks to millions of people makes social media in MENA very powerful and needs to be considered as important by the tourism industry marketing to consumers from the region. Social networks also provide the opportunity to distribute content that is uncensored and not directly restricted by the government is also another major opportunity for consumers and marketers.
The social media movement also becomes evident when looking at the time spend per day on social networks in different countries within the region. Emirates and Tunisia are leading the way with regards to spending 4.1 hours per day on social networks. This is quite extraordinary! The amount of hours being spend on social media in different countries in the Middle East and Africa are high in comparison to other countries worldwide. For marketers, it is therefore necessary to consider their social media presence and think about a strategy to engage with consumers on social networks and be part of the conversation.
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