Social Media Statistics and Usage in the UAE in 2023

Social Media Statistics and Usage in the UAE in 2023

For businesses and consumers alike, social media is an undeniably powerful force. New opportunities are always emerging, and in a digital landscape as busy as that in the United Arab Emirates, brands need to think fast. 

 

By putting social maps into perspective, small and medium businesses can leverage social media to their advantage and position themselves in front of audiences that truly matter to their mission and vision. 

 

Get a better picture of the most important social media statistics and usage in the UAE in our comprehensive guide. 

 

General Usage Statistics

general social media statistics UAE 2023

 

Time is precious, and the fact that the average Internet user spends 145 minutes online daily provides lucrative opportunities for marketers. Interestingly, Americans fall below this global average, spending 2 hours and 7 minutes online daily, while users in the UAE spend 2 hours and 50 minutes online daily.

The most active demographic in the UAE is users between 25 and 34, with most social media users being male.

As expected, WhatsApp remains the top-used social media platform in the UAE, capturing the hearts—and thumbs!—of 2.27 million individuals who use it primarily to keep in touch with friends and family. Surprisingly, the second most common reason for being online is to fill spare time—not go online shopping, which is the fourth most common reason for using social media in the UAE.

Other reasons UAE-based Internet users are active on social media in 2023 include:

  • Keeping up with current events
  • Finding things to do
  • Following sports
  • Watching live streams
  • Social listening
  • Making new contacts
  • Finding content
  • Work-related networking and research

Social media stats

 

As in most countries, social media in the UAE caters to a younger demographic, though you’ll often see activity from the UAE government, which frequently shares policy updates and initiatives.

TikTok is also on the rise in the UAE, having generated $350 million in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2022, outperforming revenue generated through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat by over $200 million. 

Trends in Content Consumption

We’ve previously discussed the impact of video content in 2019, and you may not be surprised to know that this format continues to dominate in 2023. However, shorter-form videos give long-form ones a run for their money, as 66% of customers prefer videos less than a minute long. 

Thus, don’t be surprised if you see businesses capitalizing on YouTube Shorts, TikTok, and Instagram Reels, where most videos fall below three minutes long. Exploding trends in the video circle are drawing more users in with the potential to earn $2,500 for a sponsored YouTube video with 1 million views, $1,200 for a sponsored Instagram post with 1 million followers, and $1,034 for a sponsored TikTok post with 1 million followers. 

Influencer Marketing and Brand Engagements

Social media users UAE

With numbers as impressive as the ones we’ve listed above, it’s no wonder influencer marketing and brand engagements continue to rule the online advertising landscape in the UAE. As a shopping utopia, Dubai remains the ultimate hub for influencers in the UAE, with 3 out of 4 users following at least one social media personality. 

 

Experts predict the Middle Eastern influencer marketing industry to be worth $1.3 million by the end of 2023. So, if your business has yet to bring an influencer into its marketing campaigns, you’ll want to jump on the bandwagon—and fast.

Statista says over 400 influencers with over 1 million followers use Instagram to curate UAE-based content. In 2022, the influencer marketing industry in the UAE amassed a growth rate of 4.5%, with the top influencer niches being health/fitness, food, and fashion. 

The Impact of Micro-Influencer Campaigns          

Despite the apparent impact of influencers like Huda Kattan, Abdul Aziz, and Joelle Mardinian, bigger isn’t always better, especially for smaller businesses. While instant fame is often just a post away, micro-influencers are an underutilized goldmine of potential success.

Micro-influencers have between 10,000 and 50,000 followers, compared to macro-influencers, with followers between 500,000 and 1 million. While high numbers can be a tempting (albeit unfounded) reason to partner with a specific influencer, the cost of partnering with macro-influencers can be unrealistic for budding businesses. 

In addition, businesses can collaborate with multiple micro-influencers to maximize reach and engagement over time. 

Another thing to consider is the niche audience a micro-influencer provides. While macro-influencers have significantly more extensive followings, collaborating with micro-influencers brings businesses closer to a more engaged and targeted audience.

UAE micro-influencers

 

Currently, the top micro-influencers in the UAE are: 

    • Maddy Chaaban: Chabaan is a style master, mental health advocate, brain stroke survivor, and apparent cat dad with less than 50,000 followers.
    • Milli Midwood: Midwood is the editor-in-chief of Cosmo Middle East and a “professional tea drinker.” She is chic, effortless, and has an impactful feed.
  • Ramy Rasamny: Adventurer and mountaineer Rasamny is the founder of Life Happens Outdoors, an adventure-planning group that plans expeditions for travelers. Rasamny is also a car-jacking survivor and inspirational online personality.
  • Samantha Wood: Wood, known more famously for her handle Food Diva, is an award-winning food critic based in Dubai. An esteemed Guild of Food Writers member, Wood publishes reviews, features, interviews, and stories on her social media. 
  • Kat Lebrasse: Australian fashionista Kat Lebrasse is based in Dubai and uses her social media to detail her style journey. She highlights her work, travels, experience as a mother, and life with her cats. 

Augmented Reality and AI Personalization

Many social media users engage in AR marketing without knowing it. Businesses with branded Instagram and TikTok filters incorporate it seamlessly. 

Pokemon Go is one of the most notable applications of AR marketing in the past years. This app superimposed graphics and characters onto real-life locations, causing users to associate specific places within their neighborhood with PokeStops and gyms.

Another impressive AR application is by IKEA, whose Place app allows users to visualize items in their homes before purchasing them. Home Depot’s Project Color app is similar, allowing users to visualize paint colors within their home, considering lighting, objects, and other elements in the room.

Augmented reality is also taking over the beauty space, with brands like Sephora launching visual try-on kiosks—bridging the gap for consumers who prefer not to shop for makeup online because they can’t try the products in-store.

Augmented reality and social media

 

The Future of Social Media as a Customer Service Channel

Long gone are the days of phone-in customer service—at least for most businesses. Social media is now the customer service channel of choice, making it an integral part of business processes and marketing campaigns. 

According to a 2022 Zendesk survey, 61% of customers who experience poor customer service on a business’s social media channel will consider switching to another similar brand. Thus, a “customer-obsessed” approach is what consumers demand of brands on social media. 

Data from Salesforce indicates that 20% of customers prefer using social media as a customer service channel. Thus, brands are turning to omnichannel customer service to manage concerns better.

social media customer stats

 

One brand surpassing social media customer service standards is Nike, a modern marketing giant. Its dedicated Twitter account, Team Nike, provides support in English, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, French, German, and Japanese. Despite receiving thousands of daily requests, the minds behind Team Nike appear unfalteringly patient, providing consumers with what they seek most in a customer service team—genuine care.

Spotify is another brand that handles its social media well for customer service purposes, having won a Webby Award for social media customer support. SpotifyCares is its dedicated support channel on Twitter, though Spotify also provides specific instructions for different types of help. Spotify dictates, for instance, to indicate your device and operating system for tech inquiries and send a DM for payment inquiries. 

Social Media as a Search Engine

Did you know that 50% of Internet users between 16 and 34 use social media as a primary source of information when researching brands? In 2022, only 84% of people used search engines to discover information about specific brands, whereas 95% used social media.

Why? According to the New York Times, Gen Z consumers don’t believe the content they search on platforms like TikTok is “as biased.” 

Most of these social media searches occur on Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook, with people searching the most for:

  • Restaurants
  • Personal care products
  • Educational content
  • Gifts
  • Tutorials

Social media Dubai statistics

 

Generally, users may plug keywords into the search bar to discover a brand or product and then follow influencers, as consumers typically trust user-generated content more than brand-related content. 

Another way consumers use social media as a discovery channel is through their explore and discover sections that recommend brands and products based on their interests and search history. 

How Are Brands Using Social Media as a Search Engine?

Successful brands on social media know that the key to winning over any algorithm is to provide it with information that resonates with a highly curated audience. So, how do they do that?

Brands don’t just zero in on relevant keywords and hashtags. They also do the following:

  • Use visually appealing images and engaging videos
  • Include links to their website and products on page bios and posts 
  • Engage with followers and respond to as many comments and messages as possible
  • Utilize paid advertising to increase visibility in search results

Because product and service discovery leads to social commerce, retailers selling goods directly through social channels jumped 10% from 2021 to 2022. In particular, social commerce has penetrated beverage and service-based businesses, providing unbeatable advertising opportunities. 

What to Expect in 2024

Social media UAE 2024

 

In 2024, experts expect social media to take brand engagement to new heights. Here’s what your UAE-based business can anticipate. 

Social Messaging Apps as Marketing Channels

With a use percentage of 79.6%, WhatsApp is transcending its use for personal conversations and has evolved into an unbeatable marketing channel. Now an integral part of daily communication in the UAE, businesses are using WhatsApp to:

  • Build customer relationships by establishing direct connections with customers
  • Share exclusive deals, discounts, and promotions
  • Address queries and resolve issues
  • Perform opt-in marketing by providing customers with total control over their communication preferences

Who’s Already Ahead of the Game: Unilever

In 2019, Unilever launched its new fabric softener, Comfort in Brazil. It erected over 10,000 billboards advertising the product with the message “I’ll bring you back your beloved clothes” and a WhatsApp code. 

The WhatsApp code led to a number, MadameBot, which provided tips for caring for old clothing and introduced its new product to prospective customers. MadameBot also offered users a 50% discount on the latest fabric softener with free shipping, ultimately increasing sales by 14 times.

Throughout the campaign, MadameBot received 290,000 messages from 12,000 customers. 

Sustainability and Social Responsibility

Eco-friendliness is nothing new. Yet, businesses are only now realizing their responsibility to be “good citizens.” To succeed, companies must focus social media marketing efforts on making positive differences and empowering their typical customer. 

According to a Nielsen sustainability report, 66% of customers are more willing to do business with brands that demonstrate social commitment. In addition, a Cone Communications study found that 87% of people would purchase a product from a company that advocated for a cause they cared about.

 

Nielsen study social media

Who’s Already Ahead of the Game: TOMS

Popular shoemaker TOMS was far ahead of the social responsibility game, launching its One for One campaign in 2006. This campaign promised to donate shoes to a child in need for every pair of slip-on shoes a customer purchased. TOMS also covered eye exams and treatment for impoverished individuals. 

By 2020, the TOMS One for One campaign had successfully donated over 7 million pairs of shoes and provided roughly $4.4 million in grant money to global partners. 

Social Commerce

While Amazon remains the number one online marketplace globally, Instagram and TikTok shops are all the rage. By eliminating the need for consumers to navigate to external websites, businesses provide a more seamless shopping experience on social media. 

Who’s Already Ahead of the Game: Kylie Cosmetics

The Kylie Cosmetics buzz was a quick one. It came and went in 2015, and the brand became temporarily obsolete. Yet, thanks to clever social commerce campaigns, Kylie was a billionaire by 2019. 

Kylie Cosmetics’ Instagram page features over 150 products with prices and detailed descriptions. The page showcases its products via brand partners and influencers and eventually expanded to TikTok, where viewers can check out Kylie’s in-app product page. 

User-Generated Content

UCG has become a valuable brand asset thanks to its ability to build authenticity and trust. This modern-day word-of-mouth establishes brand community, acts as a trust signal, increases conversions, and influences purchasing decisions. 

 

Social media user generated content

Customers are 2.4 times more likely to view and trust user-generated content. Smaller businesses that can’t quite break into influencer marketing may benefit from the cost-effectiveness of user-generated content.

Who’s Already Ahead of the Game: The Getty Museum

The Getty Museum’s 2020 #GettyMuseumChallenge not only effectively countered pandemic boredom but also garnered record-breaking engagement. In the challenge, Getty encouraged participants to recreate their favorite artwork using a maximum of three household items. 

Getty’s campaign was so successful that it garnered thousands more submissions than expected, eventually turning the finished products into a book. 

Personalized Insights

As first-party data continues to overthrow third-party data, personalized social media insights cultivate positive relationships between brand and consumer. Data-driven experiences are an engagement driver because they are tailored to each user. 

Who’s Already Ahead of the Game: Spotify

Spotify Wrapped is an unbeatable brand campaign that dominates social media every December. Spotify curates personalized statistics and insights based on listening habits to tell users what kind of listeners they are. While Apple Music’s Replay has attempted to do the same thing, it can’t quite keep up with Spotify’s instantly recognizable graphic display and quirky listener categories, like the Fan Clubber, the Replayer, and the Specialist.  

Not to mention, Spotify Wrapped is easily shareable on Instagram and a conversation starter. Because it occurs yearly, users frequently anticipate it, with app downloads increasing by 21% in the first week of December 2020.

Big brands using social media

 

Conclusion

There’s no denying it—the UAE is a global social media capital, and getting on these channels is imperative for making market headway. The UAE social media landscape’s undefeated popularity provides ample opportunities for brands to connect with a potentially lucrative pool of consumers and engage with an ever-growing market. 

In 2024, social media experts predict that brands will continue to invest in social commerce, user-generated content, personalized insights, and sustainable campaigns to provide as much value to consumers as possible.

However, as with most trends, predicting the next big thing can be challenging. As macro-influencers become more out of reach for smaller businesses, UAE-based startups continue to turn to micro-influencers to increase engagement. In addition, brands are realizing the value of using social media as a search engine and a means to provide positive customer service experiences. 

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, brands are continuing to renew their commitments to authenticity and social responsibility, opting for an aggressive consumer-first approach that is eco-friendly, thoughtful, and socially responsible. 

 

UAE social media

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