The world is a Twitter as more global leaders connect


MIAMI: Have you been struggling over how to boost your Twitter followers?

Note to self: Become the leader of one of the most populous countries on the planet. It worked for @NarendraModi— that’s India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi—who within weeks of his May election shot up to No. 4 on a list of world leaders with the most Twitter followers.

Now he has nearly five million, pushing @WhiteHouse into the fifth spot, according to Burson-Marsteller’s annual study of Twiplomacy—the use of Twitter for diplomacy.

But @BarackObama is still safe as the world’s most followed leader with 43.7 million followers, easily eclipsing runner-up @Pontifex (Pope Francis), who has more than 14 million, and Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (@SBYudhoyono), who has collected more than 5 million and is the third most followed leader.

It seems Twitter, the online social networking service that limits messages known as tweets to 140 characters, has become indispensable for world leaders and top diplomats.

More than 83 percent of the 193 United Nations member countries appear on Twitter, according to the study, and more than two-thirds of all heads of state network on Twitter.

But Twitter is a moving target with followers being added and dropped constantly—so all we can say is the numbers in the study were accurate as of Wednesday when it was released.

Combined, world leaders have sent out more than 1.9 million tweets—an average of four tweets per day, according to Burson-Marsteller, a global public relations and communications firm. For the study, data was collected from the accounts of 643 heads of state and government, foreign ministers and their institutions.

“This year we have seen a 28 percent rise in Twitter accounts among government users, a dramatic increase in efforts to reach people around the world,” Donald A. Baer, Burson-Marsteller worldwide chairman and chief executive, said in a statement.

Foreign ministers, according to the study, “have established a virtual diplomatic network by following each other on the social media platform.”

The highest-ranking Latin American presidents by followers are Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez with 2.89 million, just squeezing by Colombia’s Juan Manuel Santos with 2.88 million. They’re in 10th and 11th places, respectively. Early this week, Santos was leading Fernandez but interest in Argentina’s developing debt repayment controversy may have boosted her Twitter numbers.



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