New research by YouGov reveals how Instagram is helping small businesses in MENA grow at home and abroad

21 November 2019, Dubai, UAE: Instagram, part of the Facebook company, will be the primary marketing channel for 73% of small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) within the next five years.

With Instagram’s community of over one billion people coming to the platform to connect around their interests, businesses of all sizes, and in all sectors, can find audiences who are in a unique mindset of discovery and open to learning about products or brands.

According to the new SMB research in the UAE, Egypt and KSA, by YouGov, commissioned by Instagram, 77% of SMBs use Instagram as an effective way to reach new and global audiences – making it the top reason they are on Instagram. Additionally, 96% say that Facebook is also an important marketing channel for their business with 59% saying it helps them to directly engage with customers. 

“Small and medium size businesses are the backbone of the MENA economy and are often some of the most creative users of Instagram. Whether it’s telling their unique brand story, showcasing a product or driving direct sales – the research shows that Instagram is a powerful marketing tool that drives real business value. Our priority is to help businesses of all sizes connect with new and existing customers to build deeper relationships online and offline.” Says Priya Patel, Product Marketing Lead at Facebook Middle East.

With more than 90% of people on Instagram following a brand, the YouGov research shows that entrepreneurs and SMBs are using the platform as a place to show how they are different from competitors (74%), generate new leads (76%) and drive sales (77%).

“Instagram levels the playing field for small and medium sized businesses. No matter the size or budget, any business is able to directly engage with, and share their products and services with the Instagram community. We are committed to continuing to build new tools and features to help local small businesses grow into global success stories.” Says Patel.

Instagram provides a range of free tools to support the growth of businesses around the world, including business profiles, which provide access to insights and the ability to promote.SMBs clearly believe in the long-term benefits of social media marketing with two in three (68%) expecting to increase marketing spend on Instagram over the next five years.

Three quarters (75%) of SMBs surveyed also say Instagram has been effective for saving on traditional and existing advertising costs and the research shows SMBs are choosing to blend paid-for branded content like boosted posts and ads with organic posts. The most popular content for the community includes short videos, offers and promotions and images. 

Last night, Instagram hosted the first ever #ExpressYourself event in the MENA to celebrate small businesses and entrepreneurs building their business on Instagram. Attendees heard from a range of SMBs who have used Instagram to successfully grow their business.

Chirin Khawatmi, founder of Mama’s Box spoke alongside alongside Karen Wazen, Dr. Mohamed Naji, and Ala’ Alsallal about the ways they have used Instagram to grow their businesses.

“Instagram allows you to add your personal touch to your business journey, distinguishing you from your competitors. I really recommend Instagram for anyone starting their own small business with a limited budget. You don’t need a middleman to help you grow your business on Instagram. Through Instagram and user engagement, you are capable of having a full understanding of what your customers want from you and cater accordingly.”

Dr. Mohamed Naji – Dentist and Executive Director at Liberty Dental Clinic, added: “At Liberty Dental Clinic, we have been using Instagram to tell our story and showcase the life changing experiences of our patients since 2011. The ease of monitoring data on Instagram has taught us what type of content works and the audience for it. Whether the business goal is focused on Stories, ads, or user generated content, the simple nature of Instagram analytics helps its users easily understand engagement metrics – which is undoubtedly beneficial, especially for new business owners. In short, Instagram grants businesses more control over the type of content they wish to publish in comparison to traditional advertising.” 

Ala Alsallal, Founder & CEO of Jamalon, said: “The beauty of Instagram lies within its ability to simplify the entrepreneurial business process. People can easily start their own businesses without the need for an endless supply chain or a complicated payment method. In Jordan for example, most sellers collaborate with affordable courier services and then use cash on delivery to process payments – making it extremely convenient for both the seller and the buyer. Instagram is now granting people jobs they are passionate about – jobs that would have not come to light if the right tools were not offered by Instagram.”

Karen Wazen – Entrepreneur and founder of her own eyewear brand “Karen Wazen Eyewear”, said: “Instagram helped Karen Wazen Eyewear move beyond mere visibility and reach. Instagram built a community that is invested in the brand and understands one another. It opened a platform where people feel free to express their opinions, styles and personal preferences. Nothing gets you attached to a brand like a community that stands by it!”