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Which global leaders are winning when it comes to Twitter?

Twitter’s important. Most of us get it, and it seems the vast majority of politicians do to. At least, they get that being on Twitter’s important — some of them just aren’t sure what do once they’re there.

In fact, according to a study released today by PR company Burson-Marsteller, nearly two-thirds of the world’s leaders are now on the 140 character-or-less social network. Bizarrely though, less than half follow their peers from around the globe.

The company claims that the study, called Twiplomacy is the “first research of its kind, aimed at identifying to what extent world leaders use Twitter”.

US president Barack Obama is the politician most followed by other world leaders. Over a quarter (76) of all world leaders and governments are following Barack Obama. However his account mutually follows only Norway’s Jens Stoltenberg and Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev. European Union President Herman van Rompuy (@euHvR) is the best connected world leader, mutually following 11 other peers. Australian Prime Minister @JuliaGillard is the second best connected leader.

Obama can also lay claim to the most popular tweet: “Same-sex couples should be able to get married.” – President Obama”, was retweeted 62 047 times on 9 May 2012.

Russian President Putin, Rwandan President Kagame, Singapore Prime Minister Lee, Dutch Prime Minister Rutte and 35 other accounts do not follow any other Twitter user; effectively cutting themselves out of the conversation.

On the other hand Ugandan Prime Minister Mbabazi and Rwandan President Kagame are the most conversational world leaders on Twitter with 96% and 93% of their tweets being @replies.

“This study illustrates how Twitter is closing the communication gap between us and our world leaders. On the one hand it allows heads of state and government to broadcast their daily activities and government news to an ever-growing audience. On the other hand it allows citizens direct access to their leaders. Consequently, it is now, more than ever, critical for these leaders to get it right on the social network”, said Jeremy Galbraith, CEO of Burson-Marsteller Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Interestingly the study found that political accounts have a habit of staying relatively dormant until election time rolls around. That’s certainly true for South African president Jacob Zuma, whose account has been dormant since March this year.

According to the study, world leaders tweet in around 43 different languages, with English being the most common at 34%. Spanish comes in second at 15% although, Spanish and Latin American leaders tweet three times as much as their English counterparts.

Twipolmacy saw Burson-Marsteller analyzed 264 government accounts in 125 countries.

Author | Stuart Thomas: Senior Reporter

Stuart Thomas: Senior Reporter
Stuart Thomas joined the Burn Media team in 2011 while finishing off an MA in South African Literature. Eager to prove his geek credentials, he allowed himself to be thrown in the deep and did his best stay afloat. When not fused with his keyboard, you can find him... More