We’ve seen big changes with TikTok, the short-form video social platform, now more popular with KSA internet users than Facebook. TikTok’s penetration rate in KSA rocketed by 24 percentage points to 64% in the 12 months to December 2021. It is now the country with the greatest potential audience reach on TikTok anywhere in the world with 87.9% of this audience available to advertisers via the medium.
During the same period, Facebook usage tumbled by 11% in KSA to 63%, meaning it is now at number seven in the top-10 social platforms in the country, compared with fourth in 2021. It has been overtaken not only by TikTok, but also by Snap, which is now used by 69% of Saudis, up 16 percentage points on 2020.
TikTok also saw a big spike in use in UAE, according to Digital 2022: UAE with 59.7% of the population now regular users, a rise of 17 percentage points. It trails only KSA in terms of the potential audience reach for advertisers, a figure currently standing at 81.3% of over-18s. Snap and Instagram also boosted their user numbers in UAE, up by 6% and 10% year on year respectively.
Saudis spent significantly more time on social networks during 2021 than they did a year before, with average use up by almost 10% to 3 hours and 24 minutes a day. There has also been a 5% increase in the number of people who are active on social media, bringing the total up to 29.3 million, representing 82.3% of the population.
Time spent on social platforms also rose in UAE, with the daily average for 2021 standing at 3 hours and 4 minutes, compared with 2 hours and 55 minutes the year before.
In both markets, a high percentage of internet users turn to social channels for brand and product information – 80% for KSA and 76% for UAE.
Other key findings in Digital 2022: UAE and Digital 2022: KSA include:
Consumers in both UAE & KSA have proven to be hyper-fluid across platforms, with the average number of social platforms being used by internet users aged 16-64 in KSA at 7.7 and UAE at 7.8.
Both countries remain in the top 10 global ranking for internet users aged 16-64 who play video games on any device, with 90.3% in UAE and 91.4% in KSA – ahead of the global average of 83.6%.
Time spent watching television (broadcast + streaming) had increased dramatically in 2020 in KSA, a symptom of the global pandemic & local lockdowns, from 3 hours 27 mins, to 4 hours 13 minutes per day; however this figure in 2021 has decreased back to pre-pandemic consumption times of 3 hours 35 mins.
KSA remains in the top 10 global ranking of internet users ages 16-64 who use social media for work purposes, almost 8% above the global average.
Akanksha Goel, CEO at Socialize, part of the We Are Social network, comments:
“The role of digital and social in our lives continues to change, with more and more people discovering the power of TikTok’s fabled algorithm, delivering content which isn’t just well tailored but which inspires and educates in a way we haven’t seen before. The opportunities here for brands in KSA & UAE are huge, with our high penetration of consumers gaming and our superfluidity across social platforms – it is definitely time to hone social community-based strategies, regardless of what industry or category your brand sits in.”
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