Brands are mining social media to engage the Saudi market

Saudi men explore social media on their mobile devices as they sit at a cafe in Riyadh. (AN file photo)
Updated 07 August 2018

Brands are mining social media to engage the Saudi market

LONDON: Companies using social media to engage with Saudi consumers are calling on the services of monitoring platforms to tap into their target markets. 

Saudi Arabia is more active on social media than any other country in the Middle East and brands harnessing Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and other platforms are investing in data that offers a deeper insight into the forces that drive Saudi spending.

According to Dubai-based social media monitoring start-up Crowd Analyzer, Saudis are especially active on Twitter and Snapchat and the country has around 16 million and 12 million users on Facebook and Instagram respectively. 

The company, which has gathered real-time information from conversations surrounding major events including the World Government Summit, Dubai Lynx and Cannes Lions, recently secured pre-Series A funding of $1.1 million from a group of venture capital firms, including Wamda Capital, Arzan Capital, Faith Capital, and Raed VC.

Brands realize the huge potential of accessing the lucrative Saudi market via social media and are looking to increase their understanding of the Saudi consumer, Crowd Analyzer CE0 Ahmed Saad told Arab News. 

The company, which specializes in Arabic-focused social media monitoring, analyzing content using groundbreaking technology including AI, proprietary machine learning and natural language processing, has clients in about 10 countries but Saudi Arabia is its largest market. 

“Our use of AI and machine learning enables us to better monitor social media and mine data, providing brands and organizations with the most up-to-date and relevant insights,” Bahaa Galal, CTO and co-founder of Crowd Analyzer, told Wamda.

The investment will be channeled into increasing its presence in the Saudi market and opening new offices in Riyadh to connect with clients on the ground there.

Saad, who co-founded the company with Galal in 2014, said that brands and people are increasingly connected over social media in the Kingdom.

Social media culture is “booming” in Saudi Arabia, he added, explaining that more and more companies now liaise directly with consumers over social media platforms. 

“It’s all about understanding people’s opinions about the product and the brands themselves,” Saad added.

One Crowd Analyzer client — a major ride-hailing company — uses the platform to gain a sense of how users are talking about the service in different countries across the region, focusing in particular on what people say about their pricing, the technology behind the service and the quality of the service itself.

As a result, brands are increasingly taking their social media campaigns in-house rather than sourcing the process out to agencies, Saad said. “This is amazing for us because it opens up a bigger market,” he added.

The company only uses publicly available data and its technology does not access information sent over private messenger. In general, he said, when people in the Kingdom voice their opinions about a brand, service or events over Twitter or Facebook, they want audiences to listen. “Saudis like being heard on social media,” he said.


India shuts down Internet in hotspot after deadly protests

Updated 13 December 2019

India shuts down Internet in hotspot after deadly protests

  • Protests erupted this week after the government introduced new legislation that many in the far-flung northeast believe will give citizenship to immigrants
  • On Friday morning thousands gathered in central Guwahati as riot police looked on

GUWAHATI: Internet access was cut in India’s northeastern city of Guwahati on Friday as thousands gathered for fresh protests against a new citizenship law, a day after police shot dead two demonstrators.
Protests erupted this week after the government introduced new legislation that many in the far-flung northeast believe will give citizenship to immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh, and which other critics say is anti-Muslim.
On Friday morning thousands gathered in central Guwahati as riot police looked on, with residents hurrying out to buy essentials.
No fresh violence was reported but Guwahati and other areas remained littered from the detritus of recent days, with some roads blocked by fallen trees, concrete poles, stones and iron railings. Many cash machines have run out of cash and most petrol stations were also shut.
A local government official said that Internet access in the Guwahati, the main city of Assam state, had been cut and an AFP reporter confirmed that connections appeared to have been suspended.
The Meghalaya state government has also cut off mobile Internet, with parts of the capital Shillong brought under curfew since Thursday evening.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was planning to scrap a visit to the city due to begin on Sunday as the security situation deteriorated, media reported Friday. The Japanese leader had been slated to hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
On Thursday, police had fired live and blank rounds as thousands of demonstrators in Guwahati and elsewhere took to the streets, some vandalising property and torching vehicles.
The two demonstrators killed in the city were among around 20 people being treated in hospital, “a few” of whom had gunshot wounds, said Ramen Talukdar, a doctor at a Guwahati hospital.
Hundreds of passengers stuck at Guwahati airport were brought to the city on government buses with police escort in the early hours of Friday morning.
Several thousand troops have been drafted in to help police, who fired tear gas and charged demonstrators with batons, in recent days.
Security was increased at the Bangladeshi consulate in Guwahati after a vehicle in the consul’s convoy was attacked Wednesday by mobs, the foreign ministry in Dhaka said.
“They cant settle anyone in our motherland. This is unacceptable. We will die but not allow outsiders to settle here,” Manav Das, a protester told AFP on Friday.
“We will defeat the government with the force of the people and the government will be forced to revoke the law,” said local activist Samujal Battacharya.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), signed into law by the Indian president late Thursday, allows for the fast-tracking of applications from religious minorities from three neighboring countries, but not Muslims.
For Islamic groups, the opposition and rights groups, it is part of Modi’s Hindu nationalist agenda to marginalize India’s 200 million Muslims. He denies this.
The US State Department on Thursday urged India to “protect the rights of its religious minorities,” according to Bloomberg.
But many in India’s northeast object for different reasons, fearing that immigrants from Bangladesh — many of them Hindus — will become citizens, taking jobs and weakening the local culture.
The chief ministers of the states of Punjab in the north and Kerala in the south also said that they would not implement the law, the Hindu daily reported.
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