Social Recap: January 2022 Trends & Platform Updates

At the end of each month, we at Netizency study the popular conversations happening in social media across the Gulf to highlight the most relevant trends and analyze the discussions in the GCC’s public sphere. 

To do so, we’ve have identified a group of keywords in Arabic and English that define conversations according to most relevant industries in the region. We’ve classified them according to the volume of mentions and analyzed the topics of conversation across all social and online media from the GCC between January 1-31, 2022.*

What we found:

The top three most discussed topics were electronics, entertainment, and health, in that order, followed by education, finance, and automotive.

Social media in January 2022

Overview

The new year is here, and at least according to the social media activity in the Gulf, nothing much has changed. Measures to manage the pandemic, as well as COVID-related news, continue to dominate the everyday conversation while popular culture & media provide most of the entertainment. With Expo 2020 racing through its final stint, it is Qatar’s turn to keep the spotlight on the region with its highly anticipated 2022 FIFA World Cup finally happening late this year.

Zooming in to January’s conversations, we saw that for the first time since last September, Electronics conversations emerge as the top in the region, due to discussions around new gadgets and store giveaways. Entertainment conversations ranked second, from international sports events, regional celebrations, and media. Finally, Health conversations come in third, as the Gulf countries deal with the Omicron variant as well as a vaccination discussion prompted by tennis superstar Novak Djokovic.

Top themes

Electronics

A plethora of tech giveaways from retailers and websites to celebrate the new year overwhelmingly dominated the electronics conversations in the first month of 2022. From true wireless earbuds to smart TV accessories and even the latest iPhones, brands and stores around the region made sure to celebrate with their userbase regardless of their budget.

But it was the new products coming directly from the CES 2022 that captured the more meaningful discussions from regional tech enthusiasts. Even though most of the biggest high-profile companies decided to have their appearances virtual-only, the Consumer Electronics Show went on, presenting the most cutting-edge technology from mainstream brands.

As is tradition, a large portion of the products showcased are never mass-produced for consumption and instead serve only as prototypes to display the state of the industry. However, companies do announce real products during the event. Intel’s new Alder Lake processor family was probably the most anticipated by Gulf users since it is Intel’s response to Apple’s Pro version of their M1 chips.

Even though the 12th generation of Intel processors cannot match Apple’s battery efficiency, they do show to be able to compete in terms of performance. PC fans in the GCC touted the announcement with excitement, hoping Intel will continue to deliver and innovate now that they are competing not only with Apple’s proprietary silicon but also with AMD, for the future of the PC.

Gulf gaming enthusiasts joined the conversation, sharing their delight in the gaming possibilities of the new Intel processors. Notwithstanding, gamers also shared their concern for their gaming ecosystem as the news broke of big corporations taking over videogame companies: Microsoft acquiring Activision Blizzard and Sony doing the same with Bungie. Many users warned that despite a potential increment in the gaming development budget, fewer independent studios could represent a threat to innovation and creativity.

Entertainment

International football tournaments were once again the main driver of entertainment conversations in the Gulf. With the FIFA Arab Cup’s finale in Qatar last month, now all the attention was drawn to Cameroon for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, where the national teams from all countries in the continent clashed for regional glory. As opposed to the Arab Cup, for which North African countries did not include players from European leagues, the Africa Cup teams boasted the best football players the continent has in its ranks.

Despite that, no Gulf nations are competing in this tournament, the action that kicked off in Yaoundé was followed by many users in the Gulf since the home countries of many from the international community of the region were participating. Residents from Sudan, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, and Ghana cheered for their national teams as they vied for the trophy. But the loudest community, at least on social media, was that from Egypt, which placed all their hopes in the left foot of their captain, Mohammed Salah, who led his team all the way to the semi-finals as of the month-end.

Aside from sports, media also played a prominent role in January’s conversations. After the roaring success of the latest Spider-Man movie, the hype from Gulf users is now with Marvel’s Moon Knight, the American comic giant’s upcoming TV series. Starring acclaimed actor Oscar Isaac, the show will contain heavy depictions of Ancient Egyptian mythology and imagery, as the main character harnesses his powers from the moon god Khonsu—while in real life is also led by Egyptian director Mohammed Diab.

Not all media conversations in January were positive, however, as the release of Netflix’s first Arabic film ‘Perfect Strangers’ attested. A milestone for the region’s film industry, the film featured a star-studded cast, including Lebanon’s Nadine Labaki, Egypt’s Mona Zaki, Jordan’s Eyad Nassar, among others. Despite topping the most-viewed charts across the Arab World, the film’s attention was mired by viral polemic due to the controversial depiction of one of the main characters. Gulf users joined the polarizing conversation, as some agreed with the Egyptian media that it undermined traditional values, while others preferred to highlight instead the acting and production value.

Health

Unsurprisingly, the public health situation surrounding a spike in Covid cases due to the Omicron variant represent the bulk of the health conversations in January. While reports varied about the severity of those infected with Omicron, since many users reported considerably milder symptoms compared to other variants, most Gulf countries saw spikes that rivalled those from the very first wave of the pandemic in 2020. Indeed, the Omicron variant puzzled Gulf users as it infected very rapidly those who were vaccinated and even those who had recovered.

But the story that monopolized the health conversations in the Gulf during the first month of the new year had to do with no other than Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic. Despite the trove of scientific evidence showing their benefits, Djokovic has never given any public support to Covid vaccines. Going against the advice of all the most important health organizations in the world and most if not all pro athletes, Djokovic decided to still not get vaccinated. Which could be argued is a personal decision—if he wanted to stay isolated at home forever.

Unfortunately for him, and for all anti-vaxxers in general, we live in a society that has measures in place to protect the health of literally everyone else when a member purposedly engages in dangerous behaviors. And this is precisely what Australia’s Immigration Minister used as the argument to cancel Djokovic’s visa to enter the country and participate in the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the year. Fortunately, many Gulf users agreed with the decision, slamming the Serbian player for his reckless activities.

Platform Updates

Social media platforms move as fast as their users. We’ve compiled all the relevant updates for your business, so you don’t have to look for them yourself. 

The latest updates to social media platforms include:

Meta

  • Updates Facebook Ads Manager features and give the ad campaign setup process a whole new look
  • Integrates WhatsApp to Workplace to maintain and facilitate the connection between employees

TikTok

  • Introduces Livestream intros to allow broadcasters to add a description to their streams
  • Tests a brand-new re-posting option to increase engagement by enabling users to re-share their old viral videos
  • Adds features to help creators with audience growth including an invite system to join the platform by sharing their best TikToks
  • New partnership to bring TikToks to commercial TVs from restaurants, bars, gyms, and many more
  • Is testing integrated Stories to display them on the For You feed soon
  • Trending Songs now on TikTok’s Trends, showing the most popular songs in the Trends section of its Creative Center
  • Is looking to bring back the option to see who viewed a user profile in the last 30 days

Instagram

  • 1 feed is not enough, so Instagram is testing 3 feed options: ‘Home’, ‘Favorites’, and ‘Following’ will be your options to experience your content
  • Is testing ‘Status’, allowing users to set themselves as ‘Working’, ‘Celebrating’, ‘Busy’, or even ‘Happy’
  • Users can now Remix any video on Instagram as long as they are public
  • Is looking at Subscriptions, allowing creators to charge fans a monthly fee to access exclusive content
  • Toughens up efforts against hate speech by limiting the reach of posts that are likely to contain hate, bullying, and violence

Twitter

  • Tests Topics Bar on a timeline to allow users to jump to real-life discussions related to their tweet activity with a tap
  • Twitter redesigns the tweet composer and will be soon placed at the bottom of the page with a different shape
  • Adds new insights on Spaces, including replay stats and how many users, are in the room
  • Twitter is testing new settings in Spaces, allowing users to restrict who can access their Spaces and limiting it to the people they invite, tweeps only, or anyone
  • Enables recording of Spaces to keep them around for 30 days
  • Is testing a new location for the Search Button at the top of the Homepage instead of having to switch tabs
  • Twitter Communities now available on Android
  • Is testing ‘Flocks’, a new option to share tweets with a specific group of chosen contacts
  • Launches NFT profile pictures for Twitter Blue subscribers

LinkedIn

  • Is testing audio rooms as a mix of traditional audio rooms and Live Events

Snapchat

  • Introduces more Emoji interactions, including Emoji Polls in stories and Bitmoji message reactions

YouTube

  • Improves its mobile app features for Studio for users to easily monitor their YouTube performance on the go
  • Adds new data collection & management tools to export a YouTube channel’s subscribers list into a CSV file
  • Enhances its analytics performance chart to allow the visualization of video performance with YouTube

*This article was originally published by Communicate ME as a two-part pieceAccess the trends part here and the platform updates part here.

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