Twitter (12,266 members in the Arab world) vs. WatWet (25,000 members)- Neck to Neck Comparison.
Again, I am sorry for not updating since a while part because I am preparing for the launch of ArabCrunch Arabic version and also for being busy with other projects. However this is an interesting post I hope you will enjoy it:
According to a recent research by SpotOnPR a leading regional PR agency, Twitter‘s growth rate in the Arab world, was 261% in Q2, at around 12,266 users, the fastest growth rate for Twitter in the region.
On the other hand WatWet the Jordanian based Arab clone to Twitter, which was launched in 2008, has around 25,000 users mostly in Jordan with a growth rate of 25% since March.
WatWet recently launched its API and redesigned the site enabling follow and unfollow, before it was like friend adding on facebook, they also recently integrated with Twitter. This post looks at the differences between WatWet and Twitter and will examine the findings of the research and compare them to WatWet .
(Note: according to Karim Arafta CEO of WatWet website will be unstable until Thursday because they are moving the server.)
On Twitter, you can update your status up to 140 characters you can also ?reply to anyone on Twitter via “@” , the message is sent to an “@username” inbox that essentially collects all @ messages with your user name. Keep in mind the @ message is not private, it will appear ?in your public timeline, whereas a “direct message or DM” is a message solely intended for you and no one else can see them. These messages are preceded by a ?D? and are collected in a “Direct Message” inbox.
Unlike Facebook where a friend has to accept your befriending request before you see his/her updates, Twitter you can follow a person and it is up to them to decide to follow you back. Once you follow someone that user’s “stream/updates” go directly to your homepage. ?Again you are able to @ reply or message if a user is not following you but you can not DM anyone unless they are following your updates.
Just like Twitter WatWet’s offers you also the 140 characters limit. As mentioned in the first paragraph recently WatWet redesigned their site enabling the follow and unfollow feature whereas before it was like friend adding on facebook.
WatWet also has an “@” function but not an “@” inbox tab. Yet,?Karim has assured me this feature will be available as soon as next Thursday and will also be called “replies” in English and “Roduod” in Arabic. Similar to Twitter’s DM feature; WatWet has “WashWihses” (whispers) which works almost the same way but once you hit a washwish button, your followers list pops up, and you can choose to DM several followers at one time. This is very useful as with Twitter you may only DM one follower at a time.
Another difference WatWet has, is you are able to directly upload a picture to your timeline (it also can go to MMS.) While with Twitter you must use a separate web app.
WatWet also has Channels to subscribe to, according to Karem, they are going to cancel the channels and rename them suggested users.
As for Privacy both WatWet and Twitter offer a protected profile option this is where your updates are only available to people you have approved to follow your watwets or tweets (updates). **Note: your updates DO NOT appear in the public timeline**.
SMS and MMS:
You can send SMS updates on Twitter from any country in the world, this is possible via an International UK number. Last year Twitter has stopped supporting inbound SMS worldwide, but Recently Twitter has started to role out support for more countries to its 2 way SMS : USA, Canada, UK via Vodafone and O2, Sweden, New Zealand And Germany . Though until now, no Arab country is supported, unless with a growing number of startups who offered paid in-bound SMS updates to most of the world including a lot of Arab countries. Although it don’t last long Twet2 was launched late February, offering free in-bound SMS updates, but soon shut down!
On WatWet, 2 Way SMS and MMS updates are available only in one Jordan operator (Zain Jordan) while SMS sending is available world wide via a UK number. You can send updates via one operator in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) “Mobily”. The good news- by next week WatWat will support more countries for receiving updates but with no localized number, including Egypt (Itasalat), UAE (Itasalat) and Du. (Unlike USA the mobile companies do not charge for receiving SMS)
APIs and apps:
Twitter has released its APIs long ago, which led to the creation of an eco-system made of thousands of web, desktop and mobile apps. This Eco-system was one of the main factors that has made Twitter more useful and led to the tremendous growth. On the other hand WatWet has been slow in releasing APIs, until few days ago but still no third party apps released yet. (If you know of any please let me know.)
To me, and I think to most people the AIR based third part Desktop apps such as TweetDeck and SeesmicDesktop and gmail Twitter Gadget, are the apps that made Twitter really useful and made us use it, why? Because in these apps, you get your Twitter updates in near real-time, which is much better than hitting F 5 over and over to refresh Twitter webpage with updates, nevertheless there is an API update limit of 100 API’s an hour forced by Twitter, which tends to expire quickly in my time line.
We are still waiting for WatWet to release a Desktop app, although they have assured me it is coming soon. I do not know what has made them late in this? Maybe someone will develop it for them, or maybe TweetDeck will do them a great favor by supporting them.
We are now in the Mobile 2.0 era, where your mobile is inter connected with the web via mobile apps and widgets, whether the connection is WIFI, 3G or GPRs. Twitter Mobile apps are available in nearly every smart phone and developed by third party developers (using its API). This has made us interconnected with the world all in real-time. In contrast, there are no Mobile apps supporting WatWat yet, the Jordanian startup has already developed iPhone and Nokia S60 app and plans to launch them soon, but again I do not know why they are still late in this.
WatWet had an Arabic interface since day one, but 2 apps have released Arabiztion for Twitter:arTwitter a RTL web Interface for Twitter developed by A Mohamad AL Rahaili from KSA and TwitterFox a RTL Firefox Add-0n that lets you update via your tab Arabized by Mazen A. Melibari.
2- Stats:Twitter (12,266 members in the Arab world) vs. WatWet (25,000 members).
Users and Growth:
Twitter growth in the Middle East and North Africa over the past few months has jumped up from 100% to nearly 300% according to SpotOnPR press release with 12,266 Twitter users registered in the Arab world, while Watwet has around 25 thousands members with a growth rate since March 2009 of 25% according to Karim “Every 9 months we double the subscribers.”
According to SpotOnPR research, Gulf Cooperated Council (GCC) countries currently have 8,212 registered Twitter users with the UAE accounting for about 60% of all GCC users. In common with Facebook usage across the region, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have the three largest Twitter communities, accounting for 1,741 users, 1,405 users and 4,952 users respectively. At the end of 2008, the GCC had less than one thousand Twitter users in total. While the vast majority of WatWet members are from Jordan at 90% rate.
Carrington Malin the cofounder of SpotOnPR told ArabCrunch we’ve seen changes in demographic uses, he added, last year it was people close to tech and web industry. beginning this year we see more journalist, and people involved in media, PR and marketing. –
In my part I also see more people with general interest tweeting specially in KSA.
WatWet, demographics are different, as 90% of its users are from Jordan, east Amman (which has a lower income rates than the west Amman) is around 60%, and it has more members at the ages between 25-35, people of the ages between 18-25 comes second. It looks like WatWet’s vast majority of users are not tech savvy.
Internationally, a research by Web security SaaS company Purewire published on ReadWriteWeb on June 6, 2009, Found out:
- 40 percent of Twitter users have not tweeted since their first day on Twitter (i.e., the account was most likely created and subsequently forgotten about).
- Approximately 25 percent of Twitter users are not following anyone, while two-thirds are following less than 10 people (i.e., the account was created but is not actually being used regularly).
- Twitter is used more as a mass medium for receiving information, rather than as a way to interact with others. Proof is shown by evaluating the followers and friends of Twitter users.”
Erick Schonfeld from TechCrunch explained:
“The adoption cycle for Twitter is a bit strange. It goes something like this: Ever-increasing waves of hype, links, and attention bring in the newbies to Twitter.com where they get their first taste of Twitterdom. Some portion of those set up an account out of curiosity or a fear of being left behind. They try sending out a few Tweets, look around, get bored by the initial banality of the service and abandon it for other pursuits.
But that is not the end of it. A lot of them come back, either because they keep getting links from friends or keep hearing about it on TV or whatever, and then they slowly start to see the usefulness a funny Tweet from a friend, a link to breaking news, a way to keep an eye on the general zeitgeist. Twitter is the kind of thing that is easier to experience than it is to explain. But it is an acquired taste and often requires repeated exposure before people get hooked. Once they do get hooked, there is no going back.”
In the Arab world, there are no accurate numbers to indicate the actual Twitter users in the region, however Carrington said that from his general experience he sees people in UAE being active in Twitter updating their status with ” what they are doing, stories, gossip, ReTweets, links, etc. ” though I saw many Arab users on Twitter who are inactive but I cannot offer an accurate percentage.
According to Carrington, as UAE is has the hightes twitter members in the region, English tweets is more represented on Twitter, because its is full of expats. In my part I add that also many early tech Adaptors in the region know English and feel ok tweeting using it.
In Contrast, Karim told ArabCrunch that WatWet has 10% active members, he considers a non active user if they do not update for 2 weeks. But By looking at the WatWet’s timeline and compare them to my Arab Twitter users time line I have, It is very clear that active updates on Twitter in the region are much, much more than WatWet. In fact many updates on WatWet public time line are updated via Twitter accounts.
Karim does note that most of his base is receiving SMS updates (70% confirmed their mobile.) however if nobody is updating then they won’t receive updates. However, From my experience by looking at Twitter updates SMS updates via Twitter, SMS seems not to be popular with Twitter users in the Arab world; probably because the only way to get SMS updates from Twitter is to pay for them.
Twitter Growth attributes in the Arab world:
Twitter Growth Attributes in the Arab world, are similar to the Attributes for its growth worldwide, however a number of incidents were more specific to the region:
1-War On Gaza: Since the Media were blocked of entering Gaza by the Israely Goverment, Twitter was one of the few sources of news about what is happening in Gaza. That made the media regionally to talk about Twitter for the first time, Aljazeera even launched Crowdsourced Mapping Mashup For The War On Gaza integrated with Twitter.
Moreover, Arab and Muslim bloggers along with their International counter parts used Twitter to mobilize and Tweet to counter the Israeli army twitter robots accounts spams and its claims on Twitter.
3- The Recent Incidents in Iran, this was the major event that led to the media in the Arab world and all over the world to mention Twitter extensively, specially when the U.S. government asked Twitter to reschedule its maintenance. For example Aljazeera’s popular live talk show “Minbar Al AlJazeera” featured an episode about new media and Iran focusing in Twitter.
4-Aljazeera Integrating Twitter to its Minbar Aljazeera talk show.
5- Regional companies doing promotions and give aways on Twitter: Carrington emailed me the following examples:
- Dubai92 FM radio DJ Catboy who presents Dubai92’s breakfast show now uses Twitter extensively to communicate with his radio audience and run competitions and promotions (since Feb).
- Intercontinental Dubai Festival City has been running competition campaigns over Twitter for several months and have found it to be very successful as a promotion for the hotel’s services (since March). @InterConDFC.
- Virgin Megastore Middle East also uses Twitter to run competitions and promotions for special events, launches and new arrivals at its stores around the region.@VirginMegaME
On his part, Karim attributes WatWet growth for reasons such as: Some local Jordanian Media integrating with WatWet, such as the Local newspaper Addustour which run occasionally ads for its WatWet channel that has 9365 subscriber, and has added a REwatwet button its online stories. And viral invitations from friends to friends.
Twitter has 37 millions visitors as of June 25, 2009 according to comScore, with around 25 million members and planes to grow to one billion in 2013 according to leaked internal Twitter documents on TechCrunch. In the Arab world, assuming SpotonPR research to be near accurate, it stands at 12,266 users, that is 12,266 less members than watwet, but Twitter beats WatWet in features (via third party developers) and active users in the region, and it seems will grow in the region even more, because of all the hype Twitter is taking in the media.
But will WatWet have any chances?
1-Assuming WatWet released all the promised features, it will still has to play a catch up game with Twitter in terms of features, and because it only has 2 developers it would be impossible to reach the thousands of Apps available on Twitter. Though the main difference would be support for in-bound SMS updates in some Arab countries.
2-Twitter has become a real time news source globally, actually it is a news source for ArabCrunch where I broke many news via Twitter, and some of them led ArabCrunch to be featured on many poplar Blogs and Media outlets worldwide: the second most poplar blog in the world: TechCrunch (featured AC 3 times.) the third poplar blog in the world Engadget, Mashable and many others.
3-Twitter’s tweets has become a source of real-time search.
4-Twitter has become a source of the most popular stories via sites such as TweetMeme, with ranking according to the number of Retweets.
WatWet will not be able to match steps from 2 to 4 because it is not international and will never be, and since already the early tech adaptors in the region are using Twitter, its best hope is to lure the average user who would tweet in Arabic. Because English content would not matter, a journalist from Brazil told me people over there tweet in protges!
Karim told me he plans to bring WatWet to the mass market, via more partnerships with news papers and radio stations and will try to get celebrities to use watwet. would he be successful? Time will tell, but one last point here to make: celebrities effect in the Arab world, is different than USA, people do not look at musicians and actors as role models in this part of the world, unless we exclude the stupid series “Muhand.”
All in all, the biggest challenge to WatWet is not Twitter, rather than Twitter’s main threat: Facebook, which is coping Twitter more and more (if you try to friend a person his/her updates goes to your homepage even if he did not accept your add.) Facebook has a base of around 220 million members worldwide and around 3 million in the Arab world with a complete Arabic Interface.
(Future posts will be about PR 2.0, social media marketing and community management stay tuned . PS: thanks to Heather for the help )