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© 2014 gyro.
THE MIDDLE EAST’S
SOCIAL MEDIA
UNDERGROUND
GUI RANGEL
GYRO
#ARABSOCIAL
© 2014 gyro.
There are more people
with mobile phones in the world
than people with access
to potable water.
© 2014 gyro.
UNDERSTANDING 

THE MIDDLE EAST
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
SOCIAL MEDIA 

IN THE MIDDLE EAST
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
THE ARAB SPRING
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
88% of the Middle East 

online population uses social 

networking websites daily.
© 2014 gyro.
77% of the online population
is below 34 years old
© 2014 gyro.
65% of the online population is male
35% are female users
© 2014 gyro.
The UAE boasts a 172%
mobile phone penetration ratio
© 2014 gyro.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia 

are 1st and 3rd
in smartphone penetration
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
• Saudi Arabia is home to most active Tweeps
• Saudi Arabia has also the highest Twitter penetration 

of any...
© 2014 gyro.
33% Saudi Arabia’s
Twitter penetration -
the highest in the world

Followed by Indonesia (19%) and Spain (14%)
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
• Saudi Arabia is the #1 country in the world 

in terms of YouTube viewers.
• More than 100 million daily vi...
© 2014 gyro.
• 56 million active users on Facebook in MENA.
• 28 million log on daily, 15 million via mobile.
• 33 million...
© 2014 gyro.
empathy|ˈempəәTHē|
noun
the ability to understand and share

the feelings of another.
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
VS
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
afgani burqa khaleej burqa niqab chador hijab shayla
© 2014 gyro.
kandura and thobes
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
Fadi'a
the exposing of famous personalities
© 2014 gyro.
THE SOCIAL BEINGS
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
THE SOCIAL GROUPS
© 2014 gyro.
siter-ra
(metaphoric veil)
because of fear of the evil eye outside of
their social circle. (touch wood)
Even ...
© 2014 gyro.
THE VIRTUAL

SOCIAL GROUPS
© 2014 gyro.
67% Movies and music
46% Community issues
43% Sports
34% Politics
14% Religion
POPULAR TOPICS
© 2014 gyro.
• Videos
• Jokes
• Pictures
• Poetry
• Islamic Prayers
• Hadiths
CONTENT SHARED
© 2014 gyro.
TIER 1: CLOSE FRIENDS
EXPLICIT CONTENT JOKES
© 2014 gyro.
TIER 2: IMMEDIATE FAMILY
CUTE MESSAGES MORNING MESSAGES
© 2014 gyro.
TIER 3: EXTENDED FAMILY
NEWS FRIDAY MESSAGES FUNNY VIDEOS
© 2014 gyro.
TIER 4: SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS
SOCCER RUMOURS
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
THE MIDDLE EAST VS. 

THE WESTERN WORLD
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
TOP UNDERGROUND SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS
Whatsapp
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
TOP UNDERGROUND SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS
Whatsapp
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
So, Facebook has
payed US$19 billion
to buy Whatsapp.
Is this a sign?
© 2014 gyro.
SYMBIOTIC MARKETING
© 2014 gyro.
• Non-intrusive
• Transparent
• Content driven
• Micro & disposable content prevailing
• Humanly Relevant
• C...
© 2014 gyro.
• Marketing becomes embedded

in the product
• From ad agencies to curators
• Create emotional connection 

w...
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
© 2014 gyro.
THANK
YOU
© 2014 gyro.
gui.rangel@gyro.com
SXSW 2014 - Middle East Social Media Underground
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SXSW 2014 - Middle East Social Media Underground

As a product of a conservative society, the Arab youth found social networking services like Twitter and Facebook great tools to challenge the status quo and shake things up. However, since public and private personas are very different things in the Middle East, they needed to find a space where they could be true to themselves without being exposed to scrutiny.
So they went underground.
This panel describes how the local youth has found ways to navigate through the limitations imposed by government censorship and the social requirements of their conservative society, creating thriving private social networks that help them to share, communicate freely and define themselves as individuals.
It also discusses the opportunities that this unique online ecology creates and why it is a precursor of things to come in other markets.

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SXSW 2014 - Middle East Social Media Underground

  1. 1. © 2014 gyro. THE MIDDLE EAST’S SOCIAL MEDIA UNDERGROUND GUI RANGEL GYRO #ARABSOCIAL
  2. 2. © 2014 gyro. There are more people with mobile phones in the world than people with access to potable water.
  3. 3. © 2014 gyro. UNDERSTANDING 
 THE MIDDLE EAST
  4. 4. © 2014 gyro.
  5. 5. © 2014 gyro.
  6. 6. © 2014 gyro.
  7. 7. © 2014 gyro. SOCIAL MEDIA 
 IN THE MIDDLE EAST
  8. 8. © 2014 gyro.
  9. 9. © 2014 gyro. THE ARAB SPRING
  10. 10. © 2014 gyro.
  11. 11. © 2014 gyro. 88% of the Middle East 
 online population uses social 
 networking websites daily.
  12. 12. © 2014 gyro. 77% of the online population is below 34 years old
  13. 13. © 2014 gyro. 65% of the online population is male 35% are female users
  14. 14. © 2014 gyro. The UAE boasts a 172% mobile phone penetration ratio
  15. 15. © 2014 gyro. The UAE and Saudi Arabia 
 are 1st and 3rd in smartphone penetration
  16. 16. © 2014 gyro.
  17. 17. © 2014 gyro. • Saudi Arabia is home to most active Tweeps • Saudi Arabia has also the highest Twitter penetration 
 of anywhere in the world. • The most followed Twitter accounts are from
 religious figures, followed by media personalities
  18. 18. © 2014 gyro. 33% Saudi Arabia’s Twitter penetration - the highest in the world
 Followed by Indonesia (19%) and Spain (14%)
  19. 19. © 2014 gyro.
  20. 20. © 2014 gyro. • Saudi Arabia is the #1 country in the world 
 in terms of YouTube viewers. • More than 100 million daily views to YouTube. • 50% of all views in KSA are via mobile. 
 In UAE this figure is 40%.
  21. 21. © 2014 gyro. • 56 million active users on Facebook in MENA. • 28 million log on daily, 15 million via mobile. • 33 million access accounts via a phone 
 or tablet each month.
  22. 22. © 2014 gyro. empathy|ˈempəәTHē| noun the ability to understand and share
 the feelings of another.
  23. 23. © 2014 gyro.
  24. 24. © 2014 gyro. VS
  25. 25. © 2014 gyro.
  26. 26. © 2014 gyro. afgani burqa khaleej burqa niqab chador hijab shayla
  27. 27. © 2014 gyro. kandura and thobes
  28. 28. © 2014 gyro.
  29. 29. © 2014 gyro.
  30. 30. © 2014 gyro.
  31. 31. © 2014 gyro.
  32. 32. © 2014 gyro.
  33. 33. © 2014 gyro. Fadi'a the exposing of famous personalities
  34. 34. © 2014 gyro. THE SOCIAL BEINGS
  35. 35. © 2014 gyro.
  36. 36. © 2014 gyro. THE SOCIAL GROUPS
  37. 37. © 2014 gyro. siter-ra (metaphoric veil) because of fear of the evil eye outside of their social circle. (touch wood) Even if they suspect someone in their inner circle they will be deleted from the group.
  38. 38. © 2014 gyro. THE VIRTUAL
 SOCIAL GROUPS
  39. 39. © 2014 gyro. 67% Movies and music 46% Community issues 43% Sports 34% Politics 14% Religion POPULAR TOPICS
  40. 40. © 2014 gyro. • Videos • Jokes • Pictures • Poetry • Islamic Prayers • Hadiths CONTENT SHARED
  41. 41. © 2014 gyro. TIER 1: CLOSE FRIENDS EXPLICIT CONTENT JOKES
  42. 42. © 2014 gyro. TIER 2: IMMEDIATE FAMILY CUTE MESSAGES MORNING MESSAGES
  43. 43. © 2014 gyro. TIER 3: EXTENDED FAMILY NEWS FRIDAY MESSAGES FUNNY VIDEOS
  44. 44. © 2014 gyro. TIER 4: SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS SOCCER RUMOURS
  45. 45. © 2014 gyro.
  46. 46. © 2014 gyro.
  47. 47. © 2014 gyro.
  48. 48. © 2014 gyro.
  49. 49. © 2014 gyro. THE MIDDLE EAST VS. 
 THE WESTERN WORLD
  50. 50. © 2014 gyro.
  51. 51. © 2014 gyro.
  52. 52. © 2014 gyro.
  53. 53. © 2014 gyro.
  54. 54. © 2014 gyro.
  55. 55. © 2014 gyro.
  56. 56. © 2014 gyro.
  57. 57. © 2014 gyro.
  58. 58. © 2014 gyro.
  59. 59. © 2014 gyro.
  60. 60. © 2014 gyro.
  61. 61. © 2014 gyro.
  62. 62. © 2014 gyro.
  63. 63. © 2014 gyro.
  64. 64. © 2014 gyro.
  65. 65. © 2014 gyro.
  66. 66. © 2014 gyro. TOP UNDERGROUND SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS Whatsapp
  67. 67. © 2014 gyro.
  68. 68. © 2014 gyro. TOP UNDERGROUND SOCIAL MEDIA CHANNELS Whatsapp
  69. 69. © 2014 gyro.
  70. 70. © 2014 gyro. So, Facebook has payed US$19 billion to buy Whatsapp. Is this a sign?
  71. 71. © 2014 gyro. SYMBIOTIC MARKETING
  72. 72. © 2014 gyro. • Non-intrusive • Transparent • Content driven • Micro & disposable content prevailing • Humanly Relevant • Crowdsourced • Ambassadors/Influencers SYMBIOTIC MARKETING
  73. 73. © 2014 gyro. • Marketing becomes embedded
 in the product • From ad agencies to curators • Create emotional connection 
 with the consumer SYMBIOTIC MARKETING
  74. 74. © 2014 gyro.
  75. 75. © 2014 gyro.
  76. 76. © 2014 gyro.
  77. 77. © 2014 gyro.
  78. 78. © 2014 gyro. THANK YOU
  79. 79. © 2014 gyro. gui.rangel@gyro.com
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As a product of a conservative society, the Arab youth found social networking services like Twitter and Facebook great tools to challenge the status quo and shake things up. However, since public and private personas are very different things in the Middle East, they needed to find a space where they could be true to themselves without being exposed to scrutiny. So they went underground. This panel describes how the local youth has found ways to navigate through the limitations imposed by government censorship and the social requirements of their conservative society, creating thriving private social networks that help them to share, communicate freely and define themselves as individuals. It also discusses the opportunities that this unique online ecology creates and why it is a precursor of things to come in other markets.

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