Ala Shashaa, Data and Insights Director at the regional digital marketing agency Netizency, shares with Communicate a social recap analyzing the discussions in the GCC’s public sphere and highlighting the most relevant trends.
Photo Source: Barry Williams (New York Daily News)
At the close of every month, here at Netizency, we delve into the vibrant world of social media and online platforms across the Gulf. Our goal? To shine a spotlight on the key trends that matter and dissect the conversations that are making waves. To achieve this, we've curated a set of keywords in both Arabic and English that encapsulate discussions relevant to the region's key industries. These keywords are then categorized based on the frequency of mentions, enabling us to dissect the discourse across social and online media from the first day to the last of the month.
In October, Electronics and Entertainment maintained their top positions, but two major changes took place in the landscape rankings. Health climbed to the third spot, surpassing Education, while Automotive moved up one spot to sixth, knocking off Malls & Retail. The rankings for the other categories stayed the same as the previous month.
As we delved into the online conversations that unfolded in October, it became evident that keywords pertaining to Gaza, Palestine, and Israel were present in most of the conversations across all the categories. They not only took center stage in the word cloud of our listening dashboard but also were apparent across all categories, eclipsing nearly all other events that occurred during the month. Let's explore the details.
Photo Source: Netizency
Electronics & Technology
As the month began, tech enthusiasts across the GCC were abuzz with discussions about Apple. The hot topic, quite literally, was the new iPhone 15 Pro, with many owners taking to social media to express their discomfort with the device overheating during use. Fingers were pointed at various culprits, including the titanium frame, the new 3nm A17 Pro chip, and potential design flaws. However, Apple dismissed these claims and instead placed the blame on third-party apps like Instagram and Uber, suggesting that their heavy resource usage might be causing the overheating issue. This back-and-forth captured the attention of both tech fanatics and mainstream media, with the conversation reaching a fever pitch following the release of iOS 17.0.3. Apple claimed that this update would address the heat problem along with providing the usual bug fixes and security enhancements.
After the first week of October, the online discussions shifted their focus to Gaza and Palestine. Various topics fueled these conversations, encompassing the electricity crisis gripping Gaza, the shadowban and limited reach of social posts related to the situation, and the alarming use of AI for spreading misinformation, among others. Amidst this dynamic landscape, one figure emerged as a beacon of attention – Elon Musk. This increased interest arose from Israel's imposition of a communication blackout in Gaza during an escalation of the conflict. As a result, social media users from the GCC and beyond rallied under the trending hashtag #StarlinkForGaza, urging Musk to extend his Starlink satellite internet services to the city, replicating the support he had provided to Ukraine. The hashtag rapidly gained traction, prompting Musk to commit to assisting the United Nations and internationally recognized aid organizations with access to the internet. This announcement ignited a wave of hope among users and coverage from mainstream outlets.
The gaming community also played a role in boosting the chatter volume, with young Roblox players taking to virtual streets in an unprecedented show of support for Gaza. They organized a virtual pro-Palestine protest within the game, with users marching on streets adorned with Palestinian flags and prominent signs bearing the phrase "Solidarity Untukmu Palestine," which includes a Malay term translating to "Solidarity for you, Palestine." One of the marches attracted over 275,000 visits, and videos of it quickly went viral on social media. The response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive, with many users applauding the creativity and resourcefulness of the young generation in expressing their views on current events and amplifying their voices.
Photo Source: TikTok - @cikguzyd (Forbes India)
The Entertainment category has witnessed a significant surge in discussions during October, also fueled by the ongoing conflict in Palestine. This conversation was diverse and driven by various factors, including the vocal stances of numerous celebrities on the issue. Social media platforms were inundated with lists of celebrities aligning themselves with either Palestine or Israel, accompanied by content supporting their positions. Celebrities like Tamer Hosny, Mohamed Salam, and various entertainment organizations showed solidarity by canceling their participation in upcoming concerts and events in light of the situation in Gaza. This, in itself, garnered widespread engagement and applause from users. Other celebrities, including Fatima Al Saifi and Huda Kattan, leveraged their social media to raise awareness about the conflict. Amidst the uproar, many users actively tagged influencers and celebrities, like Mohamed Salah, urging them to break their perceived silence and speak out for the cause. They recognized the immense power of these individuals, whose voices and extensive reach could amplify awareness and support for Palestine. On the same note, many influential people’s names were met with a barrage of negative comments from the community for their perceived inaction.
The Entertainment category was also abuzz with the news of Saudi Arabia's bid to host the 2034 World Cup. FIFA's confirmation that the Kingdom was the sole bidder for the tournament was greeted with immense enthusiasm by football fans. They were ecstatic about the potential for the Middle East to once again host the world's most prestigious football event. One of the prominent advocates for the bid was Karim Benzema, and his celebratory post regarding the news found a resounding echo among Saudi users, leading to a notable surge in positive sentiments.
The conversation across Entertainment also saw a spike upon the news of the passing of Matthew Perry, the actor who played Chandler Bing on the beloved sitcom "Friends." This prompted an outpouring of grief from fans and celebrities alike, with social media feeds flooded with memories of his iconic performances on the show. Many users shared snippets of his best scenes, expressing their disbelief at his passing and highlighting the indelible mark he left on the world of comedy. Mainstream sources also paid tribute to the character, underscoring how his performance will continue to bring laughter to audiences for generations to come.
Photo Source: NBC News
International observances in October, particularly World Mental Health Day and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, played a substantial part in propelling Health conversations to the third most discussed topic during the month in the GCC. Many brands and health organizations initiated various campaigns to promote mental and physical well-being, actively using social media to share information and engage the public. These efforts highlight the increasing awareness of the importance of mental and physical health, motivating individuals to prioritize their well-being and seek support when needed.
Additionally, a significant portion of the conversation in the Health landscape this month was prominently influenced by the ongoing situation in Gaza. These multifaceted conversations covered various topics, including the escalating casualty count, the challenges faced by Gazans seeking shelter in hospitals, and the dire conditions prevalent in the health facilities, marked by acute shortages of medical supplies, fuel, and electricity. The evacuation orders issued to several hospitals in Gaza, such as Al Shifa Hospital, Indonesia Hospital, and Al Quds Hospital, among others, was another theme that received extensive coverage and sparked active debates on various social media platforms, emphasizing the worsening circumstances and the potential for further loss of life as a consequence.
Furthermore, the bombing of Al-Ahli Arab Hospital garnered significant public attention. Users shared breaking news updates, expressed condolences, and called for immediate action to address the ongoing humanitarian crisis. In response to this coverage, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned of an 'imminent public health catastrophe' in Gaza as vital services deteriorating became a focal point of the conversation. Concerns over the breakdown of essential health services in the city heightened the urgency of the situation and prompted extensive discussions among the public, media, and international organizations alike.
Photo Source: EPA (BBC News)
That concludes our October monthly recap! Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date on the latest social media news, delivered to your inbox every week.