The profile of Pakistani social media users appears to be no different from those in the United States: overwhelmingly young, urban, more affluent and better educated than the rest of the population, according to research conducted by the digital media agency, B Solutions.
In a special report on the use of social media in Pakistan, The Express Tribune utilised the data provided by B Solutions to analyse how many Pakistanis use social media, who they are, and how advertisers and businesses can use this information to help grow their revenues.
One of the key findings of the report is that the pattern of social media use in Pakistan appears to be no different than the United States or the United Kingdom. The most popular social media website in Pakistan is Facebook, which has 6.4 million users in the country out of a global total of close to 900 million. Twitter and LinkedIn have 1.9 million and 1.2 million users in Pakistan respectively. Google Plus and Pinterest appear to have far fewer users in Pakistan, at approximately 64,000 and 115,000 respectively.
Despite the attempts by some conservative, nationalist Muslims to create alternatives to US-based social media platforms, Pakistanis do not appear to have taken any interest in such forums.
Another key insight is that more than two-thirds of Pakistani social media users – 69% to be precise – are male, with only 31% being female. The report does not offer explanations for why this might be, though a culture of online harassment of women – known colloquially as “fraandshipping” – may be at least partially to blame.
And in an insight that is likely to be critical for marketing consultants and businesses throughout the country, the average Pakistan user of social media lives in households with substantially higher incomes than the national average. In a survey of 800 Facebook users in Pakistan, B Solutions found that more than 53% of them lived in households with a monthly income of Rs70,000 or more, placing them well within the top 10% of all households by income in the country.
Meanwhile, even though more than 60% of the country lives on a household income of less than Rs25,000 a month, only 13% of Pakistani Facebook users do.
Yet lest the advertisers begin salivating at the captive audience of affluent Pakistanis, the report offers a significant caveat: the overwhelming majority of these people are very young, with over half of them within the 18 to 24 age bracket. Only 34% of Facebook users in Pakistan are in the coveted 25 to 54 age bracket. Advertisers are particularly keen to focus their message on that group, since it is people in that age group who are most likely to have jobs and be independent in making their own spending decisions.
Some more interesting insights: while 72% of Pakistani Facebook users say they use the website every day, about 33% of them say they use the website through their smart-phones. Facebook’s mobile applications – for Android, BlackBerry or the iPhone – currently do not have the capability of offering advertising, a key weakness for the firm that has had investors question its continued relevance in the mobile age.
About 43% of Pakistani Facebook users access the website from more than one platform. And 28% of social media users have accounts on more than one social media service, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
Pakistanis also appear to spend a lot of time on the internet, with more than 80% saying that they spend more than an hour of the day online. The average time spent on Facebook or other social media is around 40 minutes a day.
All of this information suggests that social media can be a powerful – and highly cost effective – marketing tool for Pakistani advertisers. Many have already begun building their businesses around it. As more and more Pakistanis get online, this significance is likely to grow even more, and challenge the utility of advertising on traditional platforms like television, radio or newspapers.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 24th, 2012.