Twitter has been a cult amongst youngsters, media professionals and many others seeking fast information and happenings across the globe. In the same tune, world leaders also hopped onto Twitter’s bandwagon, almost two-thirds of world leaders have a twitter account. However, whilst the social network offers direct interaction between users, almost half of world leader accounts don’t follow any of their peers, according to a study carried out by Burson-Marsteller, a global public relations and communications firm named ‘Twiplomacy’.
“Twiplomacy” is the first research of its kind, aimed at identifying to what extent world leaders use Twitter. The study has analyzed 264 government accounts in 125 countries. The findings indicate that over a quarter (76) of all world leaders and governments are following Barack Obama. However @BarackObama mutually follows only Norway’s Jens Stoltenberg and Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev but hasn’t established mutual Twitter relations with other world leaders. European Union President Herman van Rompuy (@euHvR) is the best connected world leader, mutually following 11 other peers. Australian Prime Minister @JuliaGillard is the second best connected leader.
At the same time, Russian President Putin, Rwandan President Kagame, Singapore Prime Minister Lee, Dutch Prime Minister Rutte and 35 other accounts do not follow any other Twitter user; effectively cutting themselves out of the conversation. On the other hand Ugandan Prime Minister Mbabazi and Rwandan President Kagame are the most conversational world leaders on Twitter with 96% and 93% of their tweets being @replies.
The study found that politicians often discover Twitter during election campaigns but once elected, these accounts tend to go silent, such as the accounts of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff @DilmaBR and French President François Hollande @FHollande who have abandoned their followers since taking office. There are 120 personal accounts, however only 30 world leaders tweet personally and then only occasionally.
According to the findings of study, Twitter is also used by small nations to put them on the world map and tweet eye-to-eye with their peers. The president of the Dominican Republic unilaterally follows 71 other world leaders. The president of Portugal and the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago both unilaterally follow over 50 other peers in the hope that they will return the favour and the young Republic of South Sudan hopes to gain international Twitter recognition by following 16 peers.
Twitter is most popular in North and South America with 80% of governments active. Barack Obama is the most followed world leader with 17,115,077 followers, globally in 5th place just behind Britney Spears. Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez is in second place with 3,152,608 followers, followed by the White House, Queen Rania of Jordan and 10 Downing Street who all have over two million followers.