Dubai: Residents in the Middle East use social media platforms 30 per cent more during Ramadan whilst also shifting the time of the day that they engage with communities to much later in the day, an industry expert said.

“Social media consumption and user habits significantly change during the month. Instead of looking at their social media platforms first thing in the morning when they wake or get into work, people are most active on Twitter early evening at approximately 7pm, just before they break their fast,” Zafer Younis, CEO of The Online Project (TOP), a social media agency in the Middle East, told Gulf News.

“We see a big increase in social media consumption in most of the markets but differs from country to country. Facebook will register 30 per cent more users during the holy month while Twitter will register 33 per cent increase,” he said.

According to Fadi Salem, Director of the Governance and Innovation Programme at the Dubai School of Government, social media and traditional media consumptions in the Arab World usually goes up during Ramadan. The trend also changes.

“The use tends to be more spiritual, entertainment and charity. Social media is, and can become, a good use for charity works during Ramadan,” Salem said.

The percentage of Arabic tweets generated reached 74 per cent of total tweets in the region in March 2013, up from 62 per cent a year ago, according to Arab Social Media Report.

Facebook registered an increase of 10 million users between June 2012 and May 2013. The number of active Twitter users in the Arab World has also grown exponentially from just over two million to 3.7 million in the past year. In March 2013, Arab Twitter users generated 336 million tweets — almost double the number of tweets generated in March 2012.

Salem said the lifestyle also changes during the holy month. They will have “shorter working hours; more time to spend with families, more time for spiritual needs and drivers for charity is higher. They use Facebook and Twitter as a source for charity needs,” Salem said.

Companies in the region boost their spending on traditional ‘off-line’ campaigns by 20 per cent during Ramadan, so brands should take advantage and “consider posts that include content tailored to specific audiences that is entertaining or value-adding,” Younis said.

Brands can ensure that alongside traditional off-line campaigns, social media is utilised to the best advantage, reaching a wider audience that is more open to engagement than at other times during the year. Engagement with brands is hugely multiplied during Ramadan providing businesses with the ideal window to communicate with customers.

Younis said that even the four largest telecom companies — etisalat Egypt, Zain, Mobinil and Mobily — spend around $200 million (Dh734 million) during the month.

“Brands increase their advertising budgets not only on traditional media but also on social media activities,” Salem said.

Brands need to implement integrated marketing campaigns by interlacing social media usage increase in-line with TV, radio, and print consumption to deliver higher multiplier effects in Ramadan. The holy month enjoys higher organic engagement rates so your budget can push your content further in Ramadan.