Al Jazeera English on Twitter in 2021

AJEnglish
5 min readJan 16, 2022

In another year of an historic pandemic, 2021 remained an extraordinary time for news. In 2021, our presence on Al Jazeera English’s Twitter account grew to over 7.3 million followers as we continued to break previous engagement records. We covered world-changing events in an informative and digestible way and, as always, remained true to our ethos of putting people and their stories first. With the highest journalistic integrity, we reported the facts, and showed their impact through human stories that gave our audiences a deeper understanding of the issues.

Examples of illustrations shared on Al Jazeera English’s Twitter feed

Our content strategy focused on creative ways of producing original native content and making the best out of the platform’s offerings. This helped us break down complex stories and to distinguish our news coverage from the competition. We continued to provide timely coverage of world events through Live Updates, a best practice that meaningfully connected us with audiences, no matter their geography.

How we covered 2021 on Twitter

Users turned to

AJEnglish for the latest and most accurate breaking news coverage and updates on the seemingly endless stream of stories that shaped 2021, from the deadly Capitol riots in January and the Israeli bombardment of Gaza in May, to the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August and the ongoing climate crisis. And the story that continues to change our world — the COVID crisis.

Twitter threads
We used carefully curated Twitter threads to feature our coverage of landmark news events and significant anniversaries, so that audiences could more easily inform themselves, break down and understand the issues and engage in meaningful discussions.

Examples of Twitter threads from Al Jazeera English’s Twitter feed:
https://twitter.com/ajenglish/status/1356170577472577538
https://twitter.com/ajenglish/status/1371491538761625600
https://twitter.com/ajenglish/status/1354761174328422400
https://twitter.com/ajenglish/status/1458406529250598913
https://twitter.com/AJEnglish/status/1475866222315065347

Our coverage of Israel’s 11-day bombardment on Gaza received the highest engagement on @AJEnglish since 2016, reaching a record 2 million engagements in May, 2021. We used daily threads to keep our audience up to date with the latest developments — a practice that was imperative in our daily push to maintain momentum and which led us to being featured on Twitter’s news pages. And on May 15, 2021, “Al Jazeera” was a trending term after the building that housed Al Jazeera and other media outlets was leveled by an Israeli airstrike. This strengthened our determination to deliver the news, resulting in a staggering gain of 133k new followers in May alone. When one of our journalists was arrested by Israeli authorities, we took to Twitter both to condemn the actions and to keep our audience informed as the events unfolded.

And in August, we kept our finger on the pulse as the Taliban’s rapid takeover of Afghanistan took the world by surprise. Our consistent coverage of the events leading up to the fall of Kabul sustained audience engagement as we continued to deliver important updates and bring exclusive access to news from Afghanistan to our audience on Twitter.

We took advantage of Meta’s social media blackout on October 4, 2021, bringing it all back to Twitter and engaging our audience with a recap of the globally important Pandora Papers investigation.

As the year progressed, we continued our coverage of the COVID pandemic by updating our readers and audience with the latest facts and figures. Our daily COVID updates threads, which made effective use of branded cards, provided clear, bite-sized information that our audience was able to easily digest.

Twitter Moments
Our ongoing use of Twitter Moments helped @AJEnglish users follow the background and latest developments of breaking and continuing stories with ease. Those Moments were a hit with users as Twitter featured the majority of them on its own feed. This further bolstered our presence on Twitter and allowed us to reach new audiences. And our daily Twitter Moments helped us punctuate the feed with concise recaps of the day’s news which, in turn, maintained engagement on the weekends by presenting our most read and watched content.

Examples of Al Jazeera’s Moment stories featured by Twitter

Social videos
Optimising our video content for Twitter has been key to our strategy. And our short-form videos provided in-depth looks at events that had the world talking.

Examples of social videos from Al Jazeera English’s Twitter feed:
https://twitter.com/AJEnglish/status/1355451446918000640
https://twitter.com/AJEnglish/status/1393153235456827393
https://twitter.com/AJEnglish/status/1378210655887618051
https://twitter.com/AJEnglish/status/1360785838208999426
https://twitter.com/AJEnglish/status/1392735638496108550
https://twitter.com/AJEnglish/status/1429373972924276736
https://twitter.com/AJEnglish/status/1442938770957877251
https://twitter.com/AJEnglish/status/1379056230904160259

2021 Achievements

Since the start of 2021, Al Jazeera English has seen a significant increase in the number of users following our Twitter account and interacting with our content.

  • We surpassed last year’s total engagement with a total of 8.4 million engagements
  • The total number of website sessions on aljazeera.com that were referred by @AJEnglish accounted for 14.6% of total social network referrals received for the entire calendar year
  • Our followers increased by 12.3% through organic publishing and peaked at 7.3 million followers

Here is a snapshot of how we grew our presence on Twitter in 2021:

Growth on Al Jazeera English’s Twitter account in 2021

From leveraging Twitter threads and excelling at creating Twitter Moments, to optimising original video content and distributing our most important written journalism in innovative ways, our 2021 strategy paid off. We reached a total of 83 million video views, outperforming several of our competitors including CNN International and The Guardian.

As we continue to build on the successes we have achieved on the platform in 2021, Twitter will continue to be an integral part of the Al Jazeera English social and digital strategy over the next year. Please make sure to follow us. We look forward to informing and sharing with you the stories that are shaping our world.

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AJEnglish

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