DUBAI: Many web users in the United Arab Emirates, the Middle East's biggest ad market, are using sites like Facebook and Twitter to interact with brands, research has shown.

A survey of 750 netizens by YouGov Siraj, the research firm, found that 80% of this group checked manufacturers' official websites before buying a product, while 70% looked to online reviews.

Some 41% of participants engaged with their favourite brands on social media platforms, with 65% doing the same via email, and both of these activities have seen an increase in uptake overall.

Akanksha Goel, a Dubai-based social media specialist, argued these trends carried some significant implications for marketers.

"Most companies in the region are aware of the importance of including social media in their overall media relations and marketing plan, but lack the know-how to successfully create buzz online," she said.

"The hospitality sector however, has been an early adopter of social media marketing and use tools like Twitter and Facebook proactively."

Joanna Longworth, chief marketing officer at YouGov Siraj, added "the figures show us that businesses cannot afford to dismiss social media".

"We are also able to see which platforms are popular, which is very useful for companies deciding which social media to focus on."

Data sourced from Al Bawaba; additional content by Warc staff