Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta (@UKenyatta) is Africa’s most followed president with 456,209 followers. This is at least according to Twiplomacy an annual global study of world leaders on Twitter by Burson Marsteller a leading global public relations and communications firm.
The annual Twitter study shows foreign ministers use Twitter to establish virtual diplomatic network. More than 83 per cent of all United Nations (UN) governments have a presence on Twitter and two-thirds (68 percent) of all heads of state and government have personal Twitter accounts.
Since his election in late May 2014, India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi (@NarendraModi) has become the fifth-most followed world leader on Twitter, with 4,967,847 followers. He is expected to surpass the United States White House account, @WhiteHouse (4,976,734) today and is using Twitter as a power tool to broadcast his messages.
Twiplomacy aims to identify the extent to which world leaders use Twitter and how they connect on the social network. In early June 2014, Burson-Marsteller analyzed 643 government accounts in 161 countries. Only 32 countries, mainly in Africa and Asia-Pacific, do not have any Twitter presence.
As of 24 June 2014, the five most followed world leaders were U.S. President Barack Obama (@BarackObama) (43 million followers of the U.S. president’s campaign account), Pope Francis (@Pontifex) with 14 million followers on his nine different language accounts, Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (@SBYudhoyono) (5 million followers), the @WhiteHouse and@NarendraModi. However, the most followed world leaders follow few other peers, and they are hardly conversational. @BarackObama and the@WhiteHouse only follow three other world leaders, namely Norway’s Erna Solberg, Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev and the UK government.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (@LaurentFabius) is the best connected foreign minister, mutually connected to 91 peers and world leaders. The European Union External Action Service,@eu_eeas, is second with 71 mutual connections, and Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt (@CarlBildt) is third with 68 mutual connections. These mutual connections among foreign ministers allow for private conversations via direct messages on Twitter.
More than 3,000 embassies and ambassadors are now active on Twitter: Canada, France, Israel, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, the UK and the U.S. have put most of their embassies and missions on Twitter. The UK Foreign Office in London also encourages personal engagement by its ambassadors, and it is virtually impossible to become a Foreign Office diplomat without using digital tools.
Twitter is now the most powerful channel for digital diplomacy and 21st century statecraft having powerful communication tools providing a direct line to our leaders.