Video took over social media in 2016 and brands started creating, rather than just sharing.
Larger data allowances and faster mobile internet speeds is making video the ultimate form of social expression, it said.
Video content is proving to be most popular on Facebook, and brands have all but abandoned text-based posts.
The report covered the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, which alone in the region rank in the global top 30 for social media penetration. The UAE has the highest internet penetration of the three of 92 percent and also the highest overall social media usage with 68 percent of its residents using either Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.
Social media penetration in Egypt is at 30 percent and 35 percent in Saudi Arabia.
The report also focused on the five sectors of telecommunication, the sharing economy, ecommerce, banking and finance, and fintech.
In the sharing economy, the report focused on ridesharing. Saudi Arabia was negative towards these solutions, but the UAE and Egypt were more favourable. Taxi hailing is a heavily discussed topic, after Saudi Arabia’s $3.5 billion investment in Uber in 2016.
Egyptian telecommunications was the most discussed topic on social media, earning 3.04 million interactions in 2016, mostly by men and mostly in Arabic. It was an issue very much in the hearts of Egyptians last year, as phone companies and the government debated, and finally in October completed, an auction for 4G licences.
To intelligently look at social media, the report advised companies to dig deeper into gender and location demographics, to build relationships with those who use social media a lot.
Do not underestimate the power of Instagram
But while video and visual content seem to be king in form, another platform is drawing attention and proving to be most effective for marketers as a channel.
Instagram is the rising star of the Arab world.
Although MENA is still catching up to the rest of the world, with 22 percent of people in the region using Instagram, the report showed the UAE and Saudi Arabia have pulled ahead of the global usage average of 42 percent, with the former hitting a 60 percent rate and Saudi Arabia 82 percent.
The report quoted Kiera Doherty, head of digital at Weber Shandwick MENA, calling Instagram the most rewarding social channel for their business.
“The visual nature of Instagram, coupled with the press media’s enthusiasm for sharing social images to illustrate stories, has been a big opportunity for us,” she said.
Stories and Instagram for Business have changed the way users and brands interact with the platform.
“Instagram is no longer the simple platform it once used to be, it is quickly becoming a full advertising solution,” said Momen Al-Adl, data and analytics lead at MO4 Network in Egypt.
Ali Khalid Rana, marketing manager at Jadopado said that while it would take some time to dislodge Facebook, Instagram had the potential to do so.
“It definitely has the potential to be the next big thing,” he said. “[It’s] the social media I would prioritize as a business owner as well.”
This report was created in partnership with Payfort and Hootsuite.