New study shows how world leaders use Twitter


Since his election in late May 2014, India’s new Prime Minister Narendra
Modi has become the fourth-most followed world leader
on Twitter according to new study.

He has acquired 4,981,777 followers according to Twiplomacy, an annual global study of world leaders on Twitter by Burson-Marsteller.

He has surpassed the United States White House account, @WhiteHouse (4,980,207), and is using Twitter as a powerful tool to broadcast his messages.

The study also revealed that more than 83 percent of all United Nations (UN) governments have a presence on Twitter, and two-thirds (68 percent) of all heads of state and government have personal Twitter accounts.

Twiplomacy aims to identify the extent to which world leaders use Twitter and how they connect on the social network.

In early June 2014, Burson-Marsteller analyzed 643 government accounts in 161 countries. Only 32 countries, mainly in Africa and Asia-Pacific, do not have any Twitter presence.

Donald A. Baer, Worldwide Chair and CEO, Burson-Marsteller, said: “We are proud that, now in its third year, the Burson-Marsteller Twiplomacy study has become a must-read on social media’s growing importance among world leaders.  This year we have seen a 28 percent rise in Twitter accounts among government users, a dramatic increase in efforts to reach people around the world.”

As of June 25 2014, the five most followed world leaders were U.S. President Barack Obama (@BarackObama) (43 million followers of the US president’s campaign account), Pope Francis (@Pontifex) with 14 million followers on his nine different language accounts, Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (@SBYudhoyono) (5 million followers), @NarendraModi and the @WhiteHouse.

However, the most followed world leaders follow few other peers, and they are hardly conversational. @BarackObama and the @WhiteHouse only follow three other world leaders, namely Norway’s Erna Solberg, Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev and the UK government.

Conversely, foreign ministers use Twitter to establish mutual connections, creating a virtual diplomatic network. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (@LaurentFabius) is the best connected foreign minister, mutually connected to 91 peers and world leaders.

More than 3,100 embassies and ambassadors are now active on Twitter: Canada, France, Israel, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, the UK and the US have put most of their embassies and missions on Twitter. The UK Foreign Office in London also encourages personal engagement by its ambassadors, and it is virtually impossible to become a Foreign Office diplomat without using digital tools.

Pope Francis is the most influential world leader on Twitter. His Spanish tweets are retweeted on average more than 10,000 times each. The tweets of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro are retweeted 2,000 times. In comparison, @BarackObama’s tweets are only retweeted an average 1,400 times each, despite his massive following.

Matthias Lüfkens, Burson-Marsteller’s EMEA Digital Practice Leader and author of the report, said: “Twitter has become a powerful channel for digital diplomacy and 21st century statecraft.  It always amazes me how quickly social media teams, and sometimes politicians themselves, react to direct messages sent on Twitter. Twitter has become one of the most powerful communication tools and provides a direct line to our leaders. World leaders might not necessarily read the tweets addressed to them, but their teams certainly monitor the Twitter activity.”

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