There was a time that if you mentioned social media, then Facebook was the first thing to come to mind. A lot has changed since 2004. Of all the different social platforms Facebook is perhaps the most resilient, but it’s not the powerhouse it once was.
Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat have all experienced highs and lows over the years too, especially now that TikTok has positioned itself as the go-to platform for both brands and consumers. This suggests a larger shift as video content becomes increasingly important in social media advertising.
Platforms like Instagram and TikTok have already become popular channels for video ads, and while this trend is expected to continue, brands could also tap into other channels and alternatives, such as YouTube Shorts and Twitch.
I believe we’re at an interesting point with the continued evolution of social media, both in how advertisers target and how users consume content. From a brand perspective, they need to consider how they can target effectively in a privacy-friendly way that isn’t intrusive or interruptive. And that’s not an easy thing to do, especially given users’ reduced attention span. You used to have 8 seconds to make an impression, now it’s between 4.5 – 5 seconds. With Gen Z it’s1.3 seconds.
As data privacy and security continue to be key talking points too, a wider crackdown could be imminent, leading to more strict regulations on data collection and its usage. It will mean that every player in the ecosystem will need to rethink how to be most effective, especially as social media is such a key part of the overall marketing mix today.
In the UAE, social media users account for 98.99% of the total population, with the average daily time spent online around 2 hours and 50 mins. You can see why brands consider these platforms so valuable, both in terms of reach and revenue generation. Where there is an opportunity is to expand beyond the ‘traditional’ channels we have all become so familiar with and diversify a bit.
Here are some others worth considering:
We can see an influencer marketing boom in the region due to high levels of social media usage and the fact that in the UAE, most of the population is young and highly engaged online. Advances in technology have also helped this channel become more credible with the emergence of more influencer platforms that help match brands up with suitable influencers, depending on the requirements, location, target audience or any other criteria.
Users want to consume more content in less time, which is why short-form video content is so popular across TikTok, Reels, and now YouTube Shorts, as they all cater specifically to this demand. According to Google’s earnings report last month, Shorts has now crossed 50 billion daily views, up from 30 billion daily views reported in Q1 2022.
The platform is also gaining traction with content creators looking to grow their audience outside of more closed apps. For brands, there is an opportunity to utilize the full YouTube suite of solutions (including access to brand lift studies etc.) to increase brand awareness and gain subscribers by testing content on this platform too.
This is one to have on the radar; I refer to it as ‘the sleeping dragon’ of social platforms. Twitch is the #1 live stream community in the world. It’s not niche by any means, however its potential in this region has yet to be fully explored. There is a challenge to show that this platform isn’t just limited to gaming. In fact, non-gaming content is a key area for growth, and as Twitch is a part of the Amazon universe, there is a big opportunity for cross promotion with other services and solutions.
Twitch’s user base is primarily young, community-focused and in-tune with the advertising they see, which increases the likelihood of conversion. As the user preference leans more into community-led advertising, brands would have a crucial role to play in catering to this audience on a platform like Twitch.
The ‘Chat’ Evolution
Using chatbots in e-commerce is nothing new. We have been automating parts of the sales process and customer service for a while now. What we are seeing is the evolution of chatbot-based API solutions that can perform business ops via chat. WhatsApp comes out on top as the most used social media platform in the UAE with 6.73 million active users. It’s become more than just a messaging app; it’s actively used now for networking and direct brand marketing.
There are lots of possibilities for marketing on WhatsApp. Chatbots can help generate sales, provide personalized recommendations and promotions, as well as collecting feedback. Chat’s functionality isn’t limited, and I believe this year we will really start to see what it’s capable of.
By Romit Gharat, AdTech Director at MMP World Wide