Monday, March 26, 2012

The Most Influential Arabs on Twitter

This is a weekly post by Nidhal Guessoum (see his earlier posts here). Nidhal is an astrophysicist and Professor of Physics at American University of Sharjah and is the author of Islam's Quantum Question: Reconciling Muslim Tradition and Modern Science.


Two months ago, Khaled Elahmad, a Social Media instructor in Jordan, produced a ranking of the 100 most influential Arabs on Twitter. He stressed the fact that such rankings are prone to change quickly, as they depend strongly on the level of activity of the various players. However, I will venture that the list he produced is, at least in its general contours, not only very interesting but also largely still valid, particularly with regard to the remarks I would like to draw from it.
The reason for this assessment of mine is because as Elahmad himself emphasized, the ranking is not solely based on the number of “followers” that a person who’s active on Twitter has; it also relies strongly on evidence of influence, which can be reflected in the numbers of re-tweets, comments, dialogues on a given tweet, quality of the accounts following the person, etc.
Now, before getting to the list and its noteworthy aspects, it is quite interesting to note that, according to the 3rd Arab Social Media Report, there were, as of September 2011, some 650,000 twitters in the Arab world (counting those who tweet at least once every two weeks), producing a total of 37 million tweets per month (or 14 tweets per second), 70 % of them being generated in the Gulf and Egypt. Even more remarkably, Twitter grew in the region at a staggering annual rate of 2,146 % -- which means that the numbers I just mentioned are obsolete and presently much larger. Also, English and Arabic are used in roughly equal frequency in these tweets.
Now, in the aim of determining the most influential Arab twitters, Elahmad used tweet.grader.com and mtwtron.com/top_users to get the top 50 Twitter users in major Arab countries; then he turned to Klout, a website which claims to determine a person’s online influence by using many different variables on Facebook and Twitter, including the size and social importance of one’s audience, the level of its engagement with the messages being posted or tweeted, etc.
The entire list can be found here, but I would like to reproduce the top 10 ranked Arab twitters and make a few comments:
Rank
Name
Country
Profession
Klout Score
Number of Followers
1
Sheikh Salman Alodah
KSA
Religious Scholar
82
625,147
2
Abdelaziz bin Fahd
KSA
Royalty
82
224,400
3
Faiz al-Maleki
KSA
Media
81
235,457
4
Dr. Mohammed Al-Arifi
KSA
Religious Scholar
81
760,367
5
Sheikh Dr. Ayid al-Qarnee
KSA
Religious Scholar
80
551,076
6
Battal Al-Goos
KSA
Media (Sports)
79
293,107
7
Nabil Al-Awadhy
Kuwait
Religious Scholar
78
427,449
8
Saad Hariri
Lebanon
Political Leader
77
  85,164
9
Belal Fadl
Egypt
Media
76
268,884
10
Nawara Negm
Egypt
Media
76
172,396

Two things immediately jump up from this table:
·      The top 6 personalities are all from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia;
·      Four of the top 7 twitters are religious scholars (strongly conservative ones).
Also, only the tenth person is a woman, a leftist Egyptian media personality who is also the daughter of a famous popular leftist poet. Notice that the number of her followers is dwarfed by those of the religious figures in the list, but still her influence is quite high, denoting a certain quality of the audience she enjoys. On the representation of women, I should note that among the 100 personalities, I counted only 10 other women (and that included a popular singer and the Queen of Jordan). Which is consistent with the ratio of 14 % found for women overall among Arab twitters.
Oh, and Barack Obama, with his ArabicObama account, clocks in at # 18 – the only American figure in the top-100 list.
To tell you honestly, except for the above remarks, which speak for themselves, I am not quite sure what to make of this ranking – having never used Twitter myself, and resisting getting onto that platform. I am sure many of the above personalities, especially the religious and political ones, have employees who take care of their tweets, Facebook pages, and various announcements and interactions with their followers (in both the usual and the Twitter meanings of the term). That probably explains why there was only one educator in the whole list: Dr. Nawal al-Eed, who is a professor of Islamic Studies at Princess Nora Bint Abdul Rahman University in Saudi Arabia, and who has 54,000 followers…
Perhaps those of you with experience and knowledge about Twitter can shed some interesting light on the above and make recommendations for a constructive and productive usage of this important tool. Right now, I am getting the feeling that it is used to perpetuate the old system of thought…

1 comment:

Khaled Elahmad said...

Thanks for the article, I'm working on another one :-)

Khaled