BM study finds almost two-thirds of world leaders are on Twitter

30 Jul,2012

By A Correspondent


Burson-Marsteller, the global public relations and communications firm, released “Twiplomacy” – the first-ever global study of world leaders on Twitter. The study shows that almost two-thirds of world leaders have a Twitter account. However, whilst the social network offers direct interaction between users, almost half of world leaders don’t follow any of their peers.


“Twiplomacy” is the first research of its kind, aimed at identifying to what extent world leaders use Twitter. Burson-Marsteller analyzed 264 government accounts in 125 countries.


Data used was taken in July 2012 from the accounts of 264 heads of state and government and their institutions in 125 countries world-wide looking at over 30 variables using Twitonomy. Burson-Marsteller used Doesfollow to analyze Twitter relations between world leaders and MyFirstTweet to identify the first tweet of each world leader.


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.


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 per cent and 93 per cent of their tweets being @replies.


“This study illustrates how Twitter is closing the communication gap between us and our world leaders. On the one hand, it allows heads of state and government to broadcast their daily activities and government news to an ever growing audience. On the other hand it allows citizens direct access to their leaders. Consequently, it is now, more than ever, critical for these leaders to get it right on the social network”, said Jeremy Galbraith, CEO of Burson-Marsteller Europe, Middle East and Africa.


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 Francois 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.


“16 of the G20 leaders have are actively using Twitter for public diplomacy, but it is sad to see that the heads of state and government in China, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and Italy still do not have joined the Twitterverse”, said Matthias Lufkens, Burson-Marsteller’s Digital Practice Leader in Europe, Middle East and Africa.


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 Portugaland the prime minister of Trinidad and Tobagoboth 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 per cent 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 Chavez is in second place with 3,152,608 followers, followed by the White House, Queen Rania of Jordan and10 Downing Street, all having over two million followers.


Other key findings include

  • Out of the 264 accounts of heads of state and government, 90 have never ever sent a retweet and 99 have never sent @reply
  • US President Barack Obama was the first world leader to sign up to Twitter on March 5, 2007 followed the same month by @EPN, the account now used by Mexico’s president-elect Enrique Pena Nieto.
  • Most popular tweet: “Same-sex couples should be able to get married.” – President Obama”, retweeted 62,047 times on May 9, 2012
  • World leaders tweet in 43 different languages. English is used by 34 per cent followed by Spanish (15 per cent). However Spanish and Latin American leaders tweet three times as much as their English counterparts

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