GCC SMBs using social media to drive business
LinkedIn survey shows over 90% of SMBs have a social media presence
The majority of SMBs in the GCC are active on social media platforms to generate leads and drive business according to a new survey from LinkedIn.
The survey of over 260 SMBs from the six GCC countries found that 92% of respondents are active on social media platforms, while 5% are currently ramping-up to establish presence.
The ease of generating business leads has been cited as the driving factor in this strong adoption of social media by SMBs, with 48% saying that lead generation has contributed to a growth in customer numbers, and 43% crediting enhanced lead generation as the driver for overall revenue growth. Social media advertising is also bringing SMBs online, with 34% gaining customers through these campaigns, and 32% directly linking their social ad spend to revenue growth.
Half of the respondents said that they used social media for attracting new and retaining existing customers, with other aims for social media use included finding and hiring good employees (35%), increasing profit margins (34%), managing cash flow (27%) and marketing and advertising effectively (25%).
The SMB sector in the Gulf has experienced a strong growth phase of late, with a clear majority of respondents reporting an increase in customer numbers (72%), increased overall revenues (71%), and increased overall profitability (63%). Sixteen percent of the SMBs surveyed are in ‘hyper-growth', having experienced significant increase in overall revenue over the previous year, while 55% were in a ‘growth' phase.
Jake Thomas, Head of LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, MENA, said: "The fact that 71% of SMBs across the Gulf states are in growth or hyper-growth mode says a lot about the competitive business climate in the region. This will only be amplified in the UAE with the programme announced by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, which will see a Federal Council for SMBs, incentives for entrepreneurs, and relevant technical and marketing support, with a vision of strengthening SMBs to contribute to 70% of the UAE's GDP by 2021. Nearly all of these businesses are already unlocking the potential of social media channels for their continued success, showing a preference for the innovative tools offered by these platforms to effectively reach and engage customers, partners, and other stakeholders."
SMBs in the growth and hyper-growth phases show no sign of reducing their social media investments. Hyper-growth SMB's plan to increase their spending on lead generation (51%) and broad social media spend (57%). Forty-five percent of SMBs in the growth phase will increase spend on lead generation, and 56% will up investments on social media. Even SMBs in a non-growth plateau report a continued commitment to their social media investments, with 41% planning to increase spend on lead generation, and 53% upping their overall social media spend.
"Ninety percent of the respondents who use social media in the course of their business have reported that LinkedIn is the platform they use the most. As the largest online professional network, LinkedIn is uniquely able to empower SMBs with lead generation, finding talent and reaching the right audiences when they are in a ‘business' frame-of-mind. Our work with the business community in the region underlines this shift towards business on social media," Thomas concluded.