World leaders: 80% of the most powerful people use Twitter

Barack Obama does his AMA on RedditWorld leaders taking to Twitter has slowed down throughout 2013 reveals research by The Digital Policy Council (DPC). Although the heads of state flocking to the microblogging platform is decelerating, 80% of world leaders are now using Twitter.

The DPC has been ranking world leader Twitter usage since 2009. Its latest 2013 report reviews 133 heads of state out of 167 countries – personal or national office accounts. Many countries are represented by a national office Twitter account such as France’s @Elysee, Russia’s Kremlin @KremlinRussia (@KremlinRussia_E for the English language account), the United Kingdom’s @number10gov, The United States’ White House @whitehouse and so on.

The report highlights that for many countries, the national office Twitter account was the main or even sole Twitter voice for governments (out of the 133 heads of state tweeting, 37 were national offices). This includes the accounts in the top half the DPC table – offices such as Germany, El Salvador, Saudi Arabia and Uruguay.

The report uses Klout to determine some of its scores along with other indicators such as the number of followers. Regardless of the positive or negative perception of such services, it would have been interesting to see the results from similar profiling services such as Kred, Peer Index et al and the difference between the data sourced, comparative analysis etc., to offer some balance in this respect. It may have offered perspective view, particularly if rudimentary approaches were used for analysis. Twitter appears the platform of choice for many world leaders and there is no doubt that as the world tunes into how heads of state behave, the impact that it could have upon their popularity and therefore term in office grows in importance. Although a rudimentary approach, the results coupled with others factors does offer some interesting talking points.

A graph showing Adoption of Twitter Among Heads of State

Adoption of Twitter Among Heads of State

The top three world leader Twitter users
President Barack Obama @barackobama  continues to lead the pack in the number one spot with 40 million followers, adding 16 million followers in 12-months. An incredible 1.1 million inauguration-related tweets were sent during the Obama’s inauguration ceremony. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) @sbyudhoyono jumped into the number two spot. SBY, a Twitter newbie joined in 2013, according to DPC quickly gained 4.2 million followers. In at the number three spot is Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul @cbabdullahgul who increased his followers by approximately 2.6 million to 4.1 million. His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum @hhshkmohd, Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai made the greatest leap amongst the top 10. He moved from number 10 spot in 2012 to number seven.

World leader Twitter use in Europe
UK Prime Minister David Cameron  @david_cameron, ranks in at 19. However, he’s not the only European leader that didn’t feature high on DPC’s table. There aren’t any leaders from Europe featured in the top 10 with some European cousins not using Twitter (e.g. Denmark and Sweden). David Cameron created a Sina Weibo account for a visit to China that prompted calls for President Xi Jinping to follow suit. Even though China has the largest population, its leaders do not use social media including Twitter (likewise with Laos and North Korea), with the platform being blocked since 2009. Interestingly, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani @hassanrouhani created his Twitter account in 2013, even though Twitter is blocked within Iran.

The impact of digital and social media has upon countries has long been debated with the Arab Spring uprising, the Syrian crisis, Israel and so on. From high profile separations through to selfies, world leaders and the people that represent them will need to be more focused upon their behaviour off and online, in addition to the conversations they have with global audiences. It hasn’t been just about the numbers for quite some time. Lets face it; with celebrities easily eclipsing the social profiles that heads of state manage (and are probably envious of), they surely have other important issues to concentrate upon.

The World Leaders on Twitter Ranking Report is also accessible via SlideShare where analysis from the DPC seeks to share more insight.

Tim Gibbon is the founder and director at Elemental, a communications consultancy. He tweets @elementalcomms, @smponline and @timgibbon

  • Tim Acheson

    0% use Google+

  • Ian Gillman

    twtr………………going to $40,,,,,,,,,,a little birdie told me………(Self Disclosure: I own shares of TWTR)