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Saudi Focus: The apple of the Saudi eye – by Hashtag’s Nada Alarifi

Hashtag’s Nada Alarifi looks at Snapchat and TikTok as the Kingdom’s preferred social media platforms

By Nada Alarifi, social media manager, Hashtag

Internet penetration in Saudi Arabia is high, and Saudis are among the most social-media-savvy nations in the world. With millions of users on social media platforms, Saudis are increasingly using the networks to communicate and share content. It is no surprise that Saudi Snapchat and TikTok usage is on the rise.

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Behind the Saudi social media popularity

The largest factor driving the popularity of social media in Saudi Arabia is its population demographic. Saudi Arabia has a very young population with more than 70 per cent of Saudis under 35.

This demographic is highly engaged with social media and is likely to use platforms such as Snapchat or TikTok. In fact, more than 73 per cent of Saudis actively use social media, making them one of the most active social media users in the world.

The Saudi favourite: Snapchat vs TikTok 

Snapchat is currently the Saudi favourite, with TikTok closing in fast.

According to Global Media Insight, Snapchat currently has 24.14 million MAUs (monthly active users). TikTok
is right behind Snapchat with 22.32 million MAUs.

On average, Saudis spend 53 minutes on TikTok each day. For Snapchat, the daily time spent is a staggering 77 minutes during the month of Ramadan.

The most popular Saudi social media platform

There are several factors, besides the young demographic, that drive the popularity of Snapchat in Saudi Arabia. For one, the younger generation places significant value on keeping up their relationships with family and friends. For them, Snapchat is the perfect way to communicate with and share their daily lives with people close to them.

But Snapchat doesn’t leave out parents either.

Snapchat opened its family centre in Saudi Arabia to promote the safety of Snapchat users. It also released a tool that gives parents more control over their children’s activity on social media. It gives parents access to their children’s friends lists and the ability to see who they talk to without being able to read the conversations.

A study conducted by Kantar and Snap Inc. showed that 71 per cent of Saudi parents now use Snapchat.

Targeting the Saudi audience

Snapchat itself dedicates significant focus to further developing features for the Saudi market. Since launching Arabic Bitmoji stickers in 2018, Snapchat has released new AR lenses specifically made for the Saudi market.

According to Saudi Snapchat regional head Abdulla Alhammadi, Snapchat continues to grow because it taps
into the rich storytelling tradition of Saudi culture.

One of the most popular features of Snapchat is the Story function, which allows Saudis to string together a series of snaps and share them with their followers. This has become a popular way to share news, events and everyday moments with friends and family.

A great example was the #Mecca event where pilgrims streamed their live stories on Snapchat.

Going even further, Snapchat released more than 40 new shows and lenses for Ramadan, which is the most active month of the year for Saudi Snapchat users. 

Another great example was Saudis coming together and commemorating one year since the late King Abdullah’s passing by sharing their prayers and sadness via their Snapchat stories.

The rising TikTok influence 

Although TikTok hasn’t released as many targeted features for the Saudi market as Snapchat has, that hasn’t hindered the platform›s rising popularity.

A big part of TikTok’s appeal is its short-form video format, which makes it easy to consume and share.

Saudis are people with a lot of talent and creativity, and TikTok provides the perfect outlet for them to express themselves. This is due to a variety of filters, music, and editing cuts that the platform offers.

According to an interview with a Saudi content creator named Mishal, TikTok allows him to be more creative and spontaneous when creating content.

The same goes for Saudi women, who expressed they enjoy the entertaining aspect of the app. From dance and comedy videos to fashion and makeup tips, Saudi TikTok users are constantly creating innovative and original content.

With the current rate of growth TikTok is experiencing, it might overtake Snapchat as soon as this year.

Overall, the popularity of Snapchat and TikTok in Saudi Arabia is due to a combination of factors. From the country’s young population to the rise of social media influencers, Saudis are increasingly using these platforms to communicate and share content.