Holmes Report 02 Jun 2017 // 9:21AM GMT
Pope Francis is the most followed world leader on Twitter with a combined total of 33,716,301 followers on his nine language accounts, ahead of US President Donald Trump with 30,133,036 followers and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with 30,058,659 followers, according to the latest iteration of Burson-Marsteller’s Twiplomacy study.
Twitter is the prime social network used by 276 heads of state and government and foreign ministers in 178 countries, representing 92 percent of all United Nations member states. Facebook is the second-most used social platform by world leaders, with 169 governments having established official pages—although world leaders have, on average, twice as many followers on their Facebook pages as followers on Twitter.
President Trump is among a very small group of leaders who manage their own Twitter accounts, and his tweets have generated 166 million interactions (likes and retweets) over the past 12 months—including the four months since he was sworn in as president—almost five times as many as Modi with 35 million interactions.
Saudi Arabia’s @KingSalman is the most effective world leader on Twitter based on the average number of retweets per original tweet. Of his 10 tweets over the past year, King Salman has received an average of 147,456 retweets. President Trump’s personal Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, is the second-most effective, with an average of 13,094 retweets per tweet. Pope Francis is in third place, with 10,337 average retweets per tweet.
Trump’s unorthodox use of Twitter during the U.S. presidential election campaign, and especially since taking office, has left many governments around the world wondering if and how they should engage with @realDonaldTrump on Twitter. Some leaders, such as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada and Pope Francis, have sub-tweeted President Trump without directly mentioning him by name. Only three world leaders have addressed @realDonaldTrump directly to rebuke his policies, including Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto; Hilda Heine, the President of the Marshall Islands; and Ricardo Rosselló, the Governor of Puerto Rico.
“Politics and diplomacy are playing out on social media in a way we have never seen before,” said Don Baer, worldwide chair and CEO, Burson-Marsteller. “With the US president bypassing traditional government channels to communicate directly to his supporters and detractors alike, we can expect more people in positions of power to adopt this practice.”
The most followed non-government account is the United Nations Twitter account, @UN, which is followed by 338 of the 856 world leaders' Twitter accounts; @BarackObama and the @ObamaWhiteHouse are followed by 312 and 254 world leaders, respectively. @UNICEF is the second-most followed international organization and The New York Times (@NYTimes) is the most followed news organization.
The @Twiplomacy Twitter account is the eighth-most followed non-governmental account by world leaders, with a following of 184 heads of state and government, ahead of @Reuters and @TheEconomist.
Other intereating findings:
- Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is Latin America’s most followed leader. @EPN has 6.3 million followers, far ahead of Colombia’s President @JuanManSantos, Argentina’s @MauricioMacri, and Venezuela’s @NicolasMaduro, each of whom have more than 3 million followers.
- Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta, @UKenyatta, is Sub-Saharan Africa’s most followed leader with 2 million followers, ahead of Rwanda’s @PaulKagame and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (@MBuhari), both of whom have more than 1 million followers.
- The UK Prime Minister, @Number10gov, is the most followed EU leader, with more than 5.1 million followers, ahead of the British @RoyalFamily and France’s @Elysee Palace, with 2.9 and 1.5 million followers, respectively. Newly elected French President @EmmanuelMacron has shot into fifth place behind Spanish Prime Minister @MarianoRajoy, both with more than 1 million followers.
- Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, @HHShkMohd, is the most followed Arab leader with 7.9 million, followed by Jordan’s @QueenRania and Saudi Arabia’s @KingSalman with 6.5 million followers each.
- India’s Foreign Minister, @SushmaSwaraj, is the most followed female world leader with 8 million followers, ahead of Jordan’s @QueenRania.