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‘Twiplomacy’: Study charts political heavyweights on Twitter

‘Twiplomacy’: Study charts political heavyweights on Twitter
President Obama is the most followed political figure on Twitter, biting at the heels of pop stars, Justin Beiber and Katy Perry, who lead the field in terms of popularity. A new study has revealed over two-thirds of state heads are now using Twitter.

A ‘Twiplomacy’ study by Burson-Marsteller has ranked the world’s politicians in terms of their performance on social media platform Twitter.

Obama tops the political Twitter chart with over 47.7 million subscribers, while Pope Francisco comes in second, with 14 million followers on his nine different language Twitter accounts.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono takes forth position, with The White House and newly-elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in fourth and fifth place. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev ranked 15th with over 2.3 million followers, close behind Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff who has over 2.4 million subscribers.

“Twitter has become an indispensable diplomatic networking and communication tool,” writes the Twiplomacy study. “More than half of the world’s foreign ministers and their institutions are active on the social networking site.”

As of June this year, 83 percent of the 193 UN member countries have a presence on Twitter and 68 percent of all state heads have accounts on Twitter.

Twiplomacy notes that size isn’t necessarily everything, pointing out that having the most followers does not mean a political figure will be more influential. Although President Obama has by far the most followers, in comparison to other political figures he gets fewer retweets, averaging around 1,442 per post.

Pope Francisco dominates in this area, boasting 10,000 retweets for every post on his Spanish account, and 6,463 on his English account.

Despite the fact that so many world leaders havepersonal accounts on Twitter, very few of them actually write their own posts. With the exception of British Foreign Minister William Hague, Estonian President Toomas Henrik and a few others, most politicians prefer to avoid potential linguistic faux-pas.

Belgium Foreign Minister Didier Reynders fell into that trap when he proclaimed “I’m coming on Twitter” after he created his account.

Interestingly, Twiplomacy also found that Spanish had dethroned English as the dominant language on the web when it comes to political Tweets. The 70 Spanish-language, political accounts looked at have tweeted a total of 603,735, compared to 234 English-language accounts with a total of 530,554.

However, despite the increase of political influence on Twitter, the social media network still remains a platform for popular culture. Barack Obama is the only political figure in the top twenty surrounded by the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Shakira and footballer Cristiano Ronaldo.

Furthermore, in the greater scheme of things, Twitter users make up a small part of internet users. According to a Pew Research poll, 18 percent of internet users are active on Twitter and only 14 percent are adults. It also points out that an even smaller percentage of Twitter users actually engage in political dialogue on the social media platform and their views tend to be more liberal, diverging from social norms.