Public relations and communications firm Burson-Marsteller has released its ‘Twiplomacy’ report, an annual global study of world leaders on Twitter. The study shows that more than three-quarters (77.7%) of world leaders have a Twitter account and two-thirds (68%) have made mutual connections with their peers.
Twiplomacy is the leading research of its kind, aimed at identifying to what extent world leaders use Twitter. In early July 2013 Burson-Marsteller analysed 505 government accounts in 153 countries.
“This study illustrates how Twitter and social media in general have become part and parcel of any integrated government communications”, said Jeremy Galbraith, CEO of Burson-Marsteller Europe, Middle East and Africa. “While Twitter is certainly not the only channel of communication and will not replace face-to-face meetings, it allows for direct peer-to-peer interaction. I expect we will see an increasing number of corporations and CEOs also embracing the new tools that are connecting our world leaders,” he said.
The findings indicate that US President @BarackObama is still the most followed world leader on Twitter with more than 33 million followers. However, while almost a third (148) of all world leaders and governments are following Barack Obama he is not the best-connected leader. @BarackObama only mutually follows two other world leaders: Norway’s Jens Stoltenberg and Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev. The @WhiteHouse and the @StateDept are followed by 132 and 99 peers respectively, but they are also giving all other world leaders the cold shoulder: The @WhiteHouse follows three other leaders and the @StateDept is not following any other Foreign Ministry.
South African president Jacob Zuma isn’t the most active tweep. So far he has tweeted less than 100 times mainly from an iPhone on the go. However his account was largely silent between May 2012 and April 2013. Due to his large following his tweets are retweeted over 79 times on average. The most popular tweet was posted on 9 April 2013: “Congrats to Africa’s newest Head of State, HE Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, looking forward to growing further ties between our two nations!”
Although it is his personal account, President Zuma’s Twitter stream doesn’t show much interaction with his followers, and he has so far only made two mentions. The honour went to the Springboks, the South African rugby team @bokrugby, and the official Twitter page of the Presidency of South Africa, @PresidencyZA. @PresidencyZA is also the user most retweeted, with five retweets. Jacob Zuma is followed by 22 other world leaders but he hasn’t yet reciprocated.
The Pope (@Pontifex) has become the second most followed world leader with more than seven million followers on his nine different accounts. Although Pope Francis does not engage with other Twitter users, especially his Spanish tweets are retweeted on average more than 11 000 times, making him the most influential world leader on Twitter. In comparison @BarackObama’s tweets are only retweeted on average 2 309 times despite his massive following.
Swedish Foreign Minister @CarlBildt is the best-connected world leader mutually following 44 peers. The European External Action Service (@eu_eeas), is the best connected Foreign Service with 36 mutual connections followed by the Polish Foreign Ministry @PolandMFA, the UK @ForeignOffice and the French Foreign Ministry @FranceDiplo.
Turkish Prime Minister @RT_Erdogan, ousted Egyptian President @MuhammadMorsi, Rwandan President @PaulKagame, Israel’s @PresidentPeres, Singapore Prime Minister @LeeHsienLoong, Dutch Prime Minister Rutte @MinPres and 35 other accounts do not follow any other Twitter user.
On the other hand Ugandan Prime Minister @AmamaMbabazi is the most conversational world leader with 96% of his tweets being @replies to other Twitter users. The second and third most conversational leaders are Rwanda’s President @PaulKagame and Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt with his @fragaCarlBildt ‘Ask Carl Bildt’ account.
The study found that Twitter has become a formidable broadcasting tool for world leaders. Although not being conversational, the @Pontifex account has seen phenomenal Twitter growth over the past six months as have the accounts of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono @SBYudhoyono and Venezuela’s President @NicolasMaduro who both signed up to Twitter in March 2013 and now rank among the top 20 most followed world leaders. Even dormant accounts of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff @DilmaBR and French President François Hollande @FHollande, who both suspended tweeting after being elected, have seen their followers increase.
“People want to engage with their leaders on Twitter,” says Matthias Lüfkens, Burson-Marsteller’s Digital Practice Leader EMEA and author of the report, “However, it is astonishing to see that accounts with the largest number of followers have the least interaction with other Twitter users.”
There are 227 personal accounts and 76 world leaders tweet personally albeit many only occasionally. Seven of the G8 leaders have a personal Twitter account and all but one of the G20 governments have an official Twitter presence.
Twitter is also used by smaller nations to put them on the world map and tweet eye-to-eye with their peers. The Croatian government (@VladaRH) and the Foreign Minister of Iceland (@MFAIceland) are unilaterally following 195 and 142 peers and world leaders respectively in the hope that they will return the favour.
All 45 European governments now have an official presence on Twitter. In South America all countries except Suriname have an official Twitter presence. In North America, Asia and Africa 79%, 76% and 71% of all governments have a Twitter account. Only a third (38.4%) of all governments in the Pacific use the micro-blogging service.