A Survey of Iranians Active on Twitter
EghtesadOnline: Iranian news website Digiato, with help from artificial intelligence text analysis service provider Vakavic, has reviewed 1 million tweets posted in the last Iranian year (ended March 20, 2019) to find the highly trending topics and those with the most followers.
Twitter is officially banned in Iran, but ironically almost all the top Iranian authorities are active on the online news and social networking service.
According to the results published on Digiato, at least 40 million tweets are posted by Iranians annually. On average, 100,000 tweets are published daily by these users.
It is estimated that close to 6 million Iranians are active on the social media platform, according to Financial Tribune.
The researchers, however, reviewed only 1 million tweets. Those posted by bots and trolls were omitted from the raw data sets, for which Digiato relied on reports published by Twitter itself.
Furthermore, tweets that infringed domestic laws and regulations were also removed from the study.
Considering all the filters in place, the results cannot be strictly inferred as the Iranian tweeting trend, but it can provide readers with some insight about what was on the mind of Iranian Twitter users.
The top five topics trending during the period in Iran were related to FATF, President Rouhani, Iranian truckers strike, USD exchange rate and Iran nuclear deal.
Most of the tweets fall in one of the following three categories: 44.39% had political content, 18.37% were related to socioeconomic and cultural issues and 4.31% pertained to technology.
From government officials to critics, Iranian politicians actively use Twitter to get their views across to their audience.
Politicians with the largest number of followers in Iran were Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif’s (@Jzarif) with 1.13 million followers and the two verified accounts of President Hassan Rouhani with 809,018 and 692,049 followers each. The president posts English tweets with his @HassanRouhani account and uses Persian via @Rouhani_ir.
While ICT Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi’s name does not appear among the most followed politicians on Twitter, he is one of the most active users. @azarijahromi writes on Twitter almost every day and is known for replying to comments and mentions posted by other users.
Jahromi has 115,755 followers and was mentioned directly in more 153,541 tweets last year. Close to 67% of these posts were about online censorship, Telegram, transparency and people’s rights.
Among the celebrities, Iranian actress Taraneh Alidoosti (@t_alidoosti) has the largest number of Twitter followers.
Online censorship for long has been a hot topic in Iran and the ICT minister has often said that he is against the restrictive policies while clarifying that he is not the decision-maker in this regard.
Telegram, the cloud-based instant messaging and voice over IP service, despite being banned in Iran is still vastly popular and is often mentioned by the people on Twitter.
Since taking office as information and communication minister in 2017, Jahromi has tried to boost transparency in the state agency and called on his peers to move in the same direction. He has also posted many tweets about protecting people’s rights.
Businesses on Twitter
Most Iranian startups, along with major firms, have started using Twitter for promoting their businesses.
The most followed Iranian brands on Twitter were mobile operator MTN-Irancell (@irancell) with 41,592 followers, online retailer Digikala (@Digikalacom) with 13,192 and the country’s flag carrier Iran Air (@IranAir_IRI).
Three startup-related events went viral among Iranian Twitter users during the period, namely FreeLand (an event about freelancing) held in September 2018, Digital Marketing Day (January 2019) and Iran Web and Mobile Festival (February 2019).
Iranian Twitter users are more active between 5 to 7 p.m. local time. Close to 60% of them use Android handsets for surfing the social media network and 24.7% use iPhones.
The number of Iranians using social media platforms reached 47 million in 2018, indicating an 18% year-on-year increase.
Canadian social media management platform Hootsuite and UK-based marketing and advertising agency We Are Social has released their Global Digital 2019 report, based on which the number of Iranians using social media services has observed a noticeable hike.
Published on Wearesocial.com, the report noted that there are some 47 million active social media users in Iran, or 57% of the population.
Over 7 million Iranians joined a social media network for the first time in 2018. In other words, an estimated 19,178 people started using social media for the first time in the last fiscal year in Iran, which is more than 13 new users per minute.