Facebook is blocked in Iran. So is Twitter. Instagram is partially blocked, since you can target individual pages without blocking the whole site. Surprisingly, the only social media channel available in the country that doesn’t require a VPN to access is Line, the global instant messenger. Its social media feature, coined Timeline, is flourishing in Iran, and that’s interesting news for a bunch of reasons.
On the messenger front, Line lags behind Telegram in Iran, the latest offspring of the Russian Durov brothers. Telegram has somewhere between 50 percent to 60 percent of its user base in Iran, and this happened by chance late last year when the Iranian judiciary ordered Viber, the previous market leader, blocked. Telegram is where most of the herd migrated to but who knows for how long. The IM app is continually criticized as of late for being a festering ground for pornography and a questionable channel of communication for groups like ISIS.
Line is a clean oasis in comparison, and the Japanese company is actively keeping it that way. For that reason companies are jumping in as they witness that a whopping 90 percent of Line’s total user base in Iran is active daily on Timeline. You might not be surprised, though, if you’re familiar with the digital trends in Iran. It is often said to be the world’s largest blogosphere in proportion to its population. Iranians have a voracious appetite for both consuming and producing content. In fact, two of the top 10 trafficked websites in the country are local blogging platforms.
If a brand wants to open up shop on Line, which they call Official Accounts, they have to first apply as a Line Partner, which is a semi-fork in the road because the service differentiates between companies and celebrities. Both have to apply, and if they are accepted, they have to sign into an agreement, at which time they will be subject to initial and ongoing fees. This sort of screening process to ensure content is kept high-octane is another reason why they are unburdened in Iran.