JEDDAH: FADIA JIFFRY
Published — Monday 20 May 2013
Last update 26 May 2013 6:44 am
Saudi Arabia currently ranks second among the world’s fastest growing countries on Twitter, with a 42-percent increase in the number of account holders after Indonesia, which rose to 44 percent, according to GlobalWebIndex’s ‘Stream Social: Quarterly Social Platforms Update.’
“Twitter appeals to the Saudi user. He just wants to say what is on his mind, float an idea, debate and discuss it and jump onto a new subject,” said Bilal Hallab, social business strategist and general manager at the Social Clinic, a social media and business consultancy firm based in Jeddah.
“We see these phenomena in many countries. In the US for example, Twitter is by far more common and preferred than Facebook.”
Hallab adds that the majority of Internet users in Saudi Arabia are Twitter account owners, with three million users. Facebook has more than six million users. “The growth of Twitter over the past eighteen months in the country is phenomenal.”
According to a report released by the Social Clinic in 2012, Saudi Arabia topped the list of Twitter growth penetration throughout all four quarters of 2012, with a growth rate exceeding 3,000 percent versus the global growth rate of 300 percent. “What is more surprising is that Riyadh held 10th position as a city worldwide in terms of tweets per month,” said Hallab.
Riyadh alone accounts for 50 million tweets. Saudi Arabia has the most Arabic tweets among the other Arabic-speaking countries and it accounts for 30 percent of the entire Arabic tweeting population. This makes Arabic one of the top 5 growing languages on Twitter, according to the Social Clinic report. “Twitter allows for short fast live-updates and conversations that spread information at the quickest speed and with the widest reach,” said Manal Assaad, a social media strategist and marketing consultant at the Manalyst. “Facebook has more users than Twitter in Saudi Arabia (5+ million users on Facebook users and 3+ million active Twitter users by the end of 2012), but Twitter is a more open social network that allows users to discover what’s going on around them, follow what others are doing or talking about, and lets them communicate with other users freely even if they don’t know them.”
Assaad said that starting or joining conversations on Twitter with strangers is much easier than on Facebook considering its very public nature.
It is also a more fun and lively source of news that is more accommodating to the nature of the Saudi youth, where important and relevant news come to them instead of them having to look for it.
The largest age group of Twitter users in the Kingdom is the 25-34-year-olds. The second largest group is the 18-24-year-olds.
“From my personal experience, I can say that Twitter can give the youth a great boost in terms of data discovery and knowledge, ideas and value exchange,” said Assaad. “Twitter allows the youth to follow local and international professionals who share their knowledge as well as useful tips and articles in small doses on a frequent basis.”
Assad herself has over 11,000 followers on Twitter.
She added that Twitter is also a great platform for crowdsourcing, where, with just a single tweet, you can reach hundreds — and even thousands — of users who can answer your questions, give you ideas and opinions, solve your problems, or at least spread the word about your needs.
“When used properly and strategically used to build and engage a community, Twitter can help support your business, whether you’re a start-up trying to raise awareness about your brand, or you’re a big brand aiming to support your customers with speed and spot potential customers.”