How Lebanese singer Elissa became the leading Arab personality on Twitter

The singer is the sole regional personality on a new list of the Top 50 Twitter accounts

Lebanese singer Elissa's online relationship with fans is deep. Courtesy Youness Hamiddine / Mawazine
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Elissa is the most powerful Arab on Twitter, according to a new tech report.

This month, the US social media intelligence company Brandwatch released its annual list of 50 influential people on the platform.

The top ten included a mix of politicians, singers and sports stars. US President Donald Trump topped the list followed by Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and pop singer Taylor Swift. Also appearing in the Top 10 is entrepreneur Elon Musk (4), Roar singer Katy Perry (5) and TV host Ellen DeGeneres at 10th place.

Elissa is the solo Arab personality in the Top 50, with the Lebanese singer landing in 45th place, above the likes of former US first lady Michelle Obama (50) and actor Leonardo Di Caprio (48).

In explaining the methodology, Brandwatch spokesperson Leia Read said the study looked further than the sheer number of followers - Obama's account has three million more followers than Elissa - but on the "level of genuine engagement they are creating."

“While lots of followers, retweets and replies will help, the more influential the people they engage with, the better the score,” she said.

Elissa welcomed her placement online with Tweets in both Arabic and English.

A real connection with fans

When it comes to Twitter, Elissa has always been a shrewd operator.

Where many of her peers such as Egyptian singers Amr Diab and Tamer Hosny, as well Lebanese singers Haifa Wehbe and Majida El Roumi use Twitter to simply plug new projects, post impersonal images and the odd intention to pursue legal action, Elissa and her management team have harnessed the power of the platform to build a devoted following.

While it is unknown when Elissa began her account, she has so far posted more than 58,000 tweets with some going as far back in 2012.

Written in a mixture of English, Arabic, French and in some cases Spanish (when declaring her undying support for football club Real Madrid), Elissa’s account is full of personal and professional commentary, touching on everything from her career to life in Lebanon and the region.

Since the August 4 port explosion in Beirut, Elissa has discussed at length the social and political ramifications, not to mention her own recovery after her home was damaged in the blast.

The artist also took to Twitter to deliver good and shocking news regarding her career.

On May 4 she announced completing the recording of recently released album Sahbit Raey and posted a picture of her in the studio with producers and songwriters.

This came after she took to Twitter in August 2019 to state the album would be her last due to a regional music industry she described as "similar to mafias."

A year prior, Elissa also posted her dismay at her record label Rotana's exclusive deal with streaming service Deezer, which meant the removal of her sizeable catalogue from rival platforms Spotify, Anghami and Apple Music.

From the highs and lows of her career, such steady content went on to create an image of Elissa as that rare, approachable superstar who has a relationship with her fan base that's deep and genuine.

"I have the best fans in the world," she tweeted in August, at the end of an online drive to raise funds for Beirut's recovery after the explosion.  "Each of you is giving what he can, and your donations are the most beautiful thing that happened since Aug 4. I love you all so much."