‘Twiplomacy’: Study charts political heavyweights on Twitter

Reuters / Kacper Pempel

Reuters / Kacper Pempel

President Obama is the most followed political figure on Twitter, biting at the heels of pop stars, Justin Beiber and Katy Perry, who lead the field in terms of popularity. A new study has revealed over two-thirds of state heads are now using Twitter.

A ‘Twiplomacy’ study by Burson-Marsteller has ranked the world’s
politicians in terms of their performance on social media
platform Twitter.

Obama tops the political Twitter chart with over 47.7 million
subscribers, while Pope Francisco comes in second, with 14
million followers on his nine different language Twitter

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono takes forth
position, with The White House and newly-elected Indian Prime
Minister Narendra Modi in fourth and fifth place. Russian Prime
Minister Dmitry Medvedev ranked 15th with over 2.3 million
followers, close behind Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff who
has over 2.4 million subscribers.

“Twitter has become an indispensable diplomatic networking
and communication tool,”
writes the Twiplomacy study.
“More than half of the world’s foreign ministers and their
institutions are active on the social networking site.”

As of June this year, 83 percent of the 193 UN member countries
have a presence on Twitter and 68 percent of all state heads have
accounts on Twitter.

Twiplomacy notes that size isn’t necessarily everything, pointing
out that having the most followers does not mean a political
figure will be more influential. Although President Obama has by
far the most followers, in comparison to other political figures
he gets fewer retweets, averaging around 1,442 per post.

Pope Francisco dominates in this area, boasting 10,000 retweets
for every post on his Spanish account, and 6,463 on his English

Despite the fact that so many world leaders havepersonal accounts
on Twitter, very few of them actually write their own posts. With
the exception of British Foreign Minister William Hague, Estonian
President Toomas Henrik and a few others, most politicians prefer
to avoid potential linguistic faux-pas.

Belgium Foreign Minister Didier Reynders fell into that trap when
he proclaimed “I’m coming on Twitter” after he created
his account.

Interestingly, Twiplomacy also found that Spanish had dethroned
English as the dominant language on the web when it comes to
political Tweets. The 70 Spanish-language, political accounts
looked at have tweeted a total of 603,735, compared to 234
English-language accounts with a total of 530,554.

However, despite the increase of political influence on Twitter,
the social media network still remains a platform for popular
culture. Barack Obama is the only political figure in the top
twenty surrounded by the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Shakira and
footballer Cristiano Ronaldo.

Furthermore, in the greater scheme of things, Twitter users make
up a small part of internet users. According to a Pew Research
poll, 18 percent of internet users are active on Twitter and only
14 percent are adults. It also points out that an even smaller
percentage of Twitter users actually engage in political dialogue
on the social media platform and their views tend to be more
liberal, diverging from social norms.

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