Nidal Abou Zaki, Managing Director of Orient Planet PR & Marketing Communications, elaborates on social media’s role as a powerful tool to address the needs of KSA’s emerging communications sector, while he discusses the particulates.
For the last 10 years, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has witnessed a paradigm shift in the country’s move to diversify and direct more investment towards establishing a non-oil sector based economy. This has led to great demand from the private sector within the region to do more. To further enhance the business, companies have adopted diverse communications based marketing activities to promote their businesses. Despite this recent shift, companies are moving from traditional marketing and advertising options to more digital based activities.
Traditional communication frameworks in the region have inherent challenges because of a variety of factors. One key factor is the slowdown in the international economy, including the GCC economy. This has hampered the ways of traditional PR and advertising within the region, which are set to continue for the next several years. As a result, businesses are looking to utilise alternative media platforms in order to reach their respective corporate goals and communicate their brand message to their target demographics.
Digital media is proving to be a preferred choice in this regard, not only for the ease of use that it represents, but also for the wide reach that it has to offer.
The Arab Internet Population Forecast (2014-2018) notes that the number of Internet users in the Arab World is expected to rise to about 224 million by 2018. The Internet penetration rate will jump from about 37.5 percent in 2014 to over 55 percent in 2018. By the end of 2018, Saudi Arabia is forecast to have a population of 26,658,323 internet users, which will lead to 75 percent Internet penetration.
Digital media is also a cost effective platform, which will greatly benefit companies who are looking to implement an effective and strategic campaign. Being a more reasonable alternative, digital media is the best solution especially for companies that are looking to downsize and follow rigid budgets.
The dynamic media landscape within the region has also been affected by the existing national legislative infrastructure. The difficulty in obtaining business licenses within the media sector, including newspapers as well as other forms of print publications has led to an increase in online news portals that produce credible content. The emergence of online news portals has opened a new range of marketing and advertising opportunities for companies across various industry verticals.
Aside from online publications, social media is becoming an integral component of the country’s inhibitant's daily lives. Saudi Arabia currently ranks seventh, globally in terms of individual accounts on social media. The report further notes that within the Kingdom, each individual holds an average of seven accounts, three of which are active, while the number of tweets on Twitter exceeds 500,000.
According to an internationally conducted survey, an impressive one billion people visit Facebook every day, and approximately 400 million users post 80 million photos on Instagram, with more than 5.3 billion likes per day. The heavy social media usage of people in the country has captured the attention of companies that are looking to reinforce their position, as well as public relations and marketing consultancies which are looking for more effective means to communicate their clients message.
The rise of digital publications and social media has created a new area of specialisation in the communications sector. It has not only become a viable option for companies and organisations, but has also become an essential and indispensable platform that will play a significant role in the companies’ success.