Twiplomacy: Which World Leaders Are Twitter Geniuses?
We tend to think of Twitter as a tool used primarily by the masses and by companies trying to sell to the masses. But it turns out that 77% of world leaders have a Twitter account, according to Twiplomacy. Given the democratic nature of Twitter, using the network can be an effective way for leaders of even small, lesser-known countries to gain a global presence. “Using social media channels is a way for a country to punch above its weight,” said former Senior Advisor for Innovation to Hillary Clinton Alec Ross, as quoted in Twiplomacy.
To determine which world leaders are most active on Twitter, the public relations and communications firm Burson-Marsteller identified and studied the Twitter accounts of 505 heads of state and government, foreign ministers, and their institutions in 153 countries. So how do world leaders compare in terms of activity and engagement?
Most Popular World Leaders
Barack Obama (@BarackObama), one of the earliest politicians to adopt Twitter, has 33,510,000 followers, by far the most among world leaders. Pope Francis occupies the number two spot. Since the @Pontifex account came online in December 2012, Francis has seen a phenomenal increase in followers across all his language accounts.
Upon winning his 2012 election , Obama posted what would become Twitter’s most popular tweet ever: “Four more years” was retweeted 806,066 times. Does this ring a bell? Despite President Obama’s massive following, though, Pope Francis’ posts receive more engagement. On average, President Obama’s posts are retweeted 2,309 times; this seems small compared to Pope Francis’ average 8,219 retweets per post. Though this goes to show that a large quantity of Twitter followers doesn’t necessarily indicate high quality, it may also be a product of President Obama’s long-spanning Twitter presence. After all, President Obama joined Twitter in 2007, Twitter’s second year. When you join a social network at such an early stage you’re bound to see less engagement on your initial posts while you wait for the network to gain steam.
Most Engaged World Leaders
European and South American leaders present the highest Twitter penetration among world leaders, with every government in the two regions except Suriname maintaining at least one official account. As for the rest of the world, 79% of North American, 76% of Asian, 71% of African, and just 38.4% of Oceanic leaders use Twitter.
The fact that many leaders use Twitter, however, doesn’t indicate that leaders are engaging well with each other or with their constituents. President Obama and the other twitter accounts of the U.S. government, for example, only follow four world leaders on Twitter: the Prime Minister of Russia (@MedvedevRussiae), the U.K. government (@Number10gov), the Prime Minister of Norway (@JensStoltenberg) and the President of Chile (@SebastianPinera). In fact, the most connected world leader is Carl Bildt (@carlbildt), the Swedish Foreign Minister, who benefits from mutual connections with 44 world leaders.
When it comes to engaging with his followers, Prime Minister of Uganda Amama Mbabazi (@AmamaMbabazi) leads world leaders in the percentage of @replies sent. Prime Minister Mbabazi replies to a shocking 96% of the mentions he receives! President of Rwanda Paul Kagame (@PaulKagame) is the second most conversational world leader, replying to 88% of his mentions.
How World Leaders Connect with Twitter
32% of world leaders’ tweets are in English and 31% in Spanish. Other common languages include French (7%), Arabic (4%), and Russian (3%). Next comes Portuguese, Turkish, Ukrainian, Croatian, and Korean (each at 2%). The most popular platform for posting tweets is Twitter on the Web, with 47% of world leaders’ tweets originating from twitter.com. HootSuite and Facebook tie for the second most popular Twitter platform, each facilitating 8% of tweets. Are world leaders more likely to use iOS or Android to post tweets? 9% of world leaders’ tweets come from the iPhone and iPad combined while just 1% originate from Android
Though world leaders are becoming more active on Twitter, it’s hard to say whether they are truly using the platform to speak to their constituents and interact with other leaders. It’s known that some leaders, such as President Obama, employ staff to manage their presence. Even when leaders do not tweet with their own hands, though, Twitter can still provide us a window into their lives. When leaders tweet behind-the-scenes photographs of their daily lives and post Vines that explain their political views, they become more relatable to us. And that is what Twitter is all about.
Which world leaders do you follow on Twitter? Is there one account in particular you enjoy most?