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How Twitter shapes public opinion In Saudi Arabia – By Hashtag’s Abdullah Alliefan

Hashtag’s senior social media executive Abdullah Alliefan, looks at what makes Saudi Twitter users unique, and outlines how to connect with them

Saudis love Twitter. We always hear that. Maybe all the people in the Gulf use Twitter often, but the Saudis have seen a real Twitter revolution, which put them on top of the list of the highest number of Twitter users in the world in 2013. The rise continued until 2015 or 2016, while Snapchat and Instagram also grew in popularity. Twitter is also among the most popular social platforms in the GCC countries, according to Alexa Global Indexes.

So why do Saudis use Twitter? When did it start, and why is Twitter still important to Saudis?

Prior to 2010, Twitter in Saudi Arabia had not gained the momentum it has today. Over the last decade, it has become the preferred social platform for Saudis. This may be due to the advantages of speed, brevity, interaction and freedom of expression, compared with traditional media and the rest of social networks. There are those who tweet to express themselves; some browse to follow their interests and others like Twitter because of the volume of interactions and content it offers. In the same context, the economic factor cannot be overlooked,

Twitter is no longer only a means of entertainment in Saudi Arabia, as it is in some other countries. Some tweets raise controversy over social issues. Twitter in Saudi Arabia tends to act as a court where the public can discuss and debate a variety of different topics and issues.

The advantages of speed, spread and hashtags are more visible on Twitter compared with Instagram, Facebook or any other social media platform, which makes it ideal for launching campaigns and publishing breaking news, which may explain its popularity. In Saudi Arabia, if any individual has an incident with another individual or a government entity and decides to tweet about it, it can quickly escalate and reach many citizens, which then puts pressure on the responsible party to take action. That’s why all the governmental ministries and authorities have official Twitter accounts to engage with citizens.

About 79 per cent of Twitter users confirmed that using it to get news is much easier than other social networks, and that they were able to get a great deal of news after joining Twitter. 40 per cent use it to get breaking news. Twitter is the modern-day newspaper in Saudi Arabia. That’s what led the old traditional local newspapers to have their own Twitter accounts.

Twitter has a set of tools for tweeting, commenting, following and publishing with text, images and as videos, which has created a wide space for expression in Saudi Arabia, resulting in a number of phenomena that exceeded the limits of the ‘personal account’.

Among the most prominent new changes and positive transformations in the Saudi media scene today are: consolidation of the public sphere; prioritising issues; interaction with the next generation; knowing the trends of Saudi public opinion; and government tweets.

‘‘Twitter in Saudi Arabia tends to act as a court where the public can discuss and debate a variety of different topics and issues.’’

Twitter is a great marketing tool for a number of reasons It is free to use for sharing and promoting branded content in seconds, expanding your reach, providing quick customer service and support, and analysing your competitors and their marketing content to see the tactics they use.

Now that we’ve reviewed what makes the platform unique, let’s cover the ways in which you can use Twitter for your business. These tips will help you boost conversions, create lasting relationships with your followers and improve your brand awareness:

1. Write a strong profile bio. Choose your words wisely to ensure your bio successfully represents your brand and reflects who you are as a company.

2. Use hashtags. They’re a great way to increase the visibility of your content beyond your own followers. There are many popular hashtags that most active Twitter users are familiar with. Only use hashtags that are relevant to your content. Also, look at the trending box every day.

3. Handle problems through direct messages.

4. Use photos, GIFs and polls. Engaging with your followers on Twitter is imperative to keep consumers interested in your brand.

5. Interact with influencers and customers.

6. Advertise your content on Twitter.

7. Verify your account on Twitter.

8. Focus on building your follower count. But never buy followers.

9. Organise a content-sharing schedule. Tweet at the right times of the day.

10. Keep track of your analytics. Use Twitter’s analytics tools and focus on engagement, impressions and engagement rate.