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In April, Burson-Marsteller released a study on how world leaders use Instagram to communicate with their constituents (or subjects, depending on who you ask). But while Instagram is an up-and-coming way to market yourself as a politician, there has always been One Platform to Rule Them All, and that platform is Twitter.
It all began 5 March 2007, when Illinois Senator Barack Obama became the first world leader to join the platform in the build-up to his presidential campaign. Since then, 856 leaders have joined the text-based platform to make it the most popular among politicians and popes alike.
Thinking we’re only one signature away from ending the war in Iraq.
Learn more at http://www.barackobama.com
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) April 29, 2007
The firm’s latest study on Twitter finds that once again US President Donald Trump is not where he wants to be. Instead, an unlikely candidate sits atop the throne of most followed current world leader on Twitter: Pope Francis.
The Catholic Pope has nine different Twitter accounts
The Catholic Pope has nine different Twitter accounts (that all produce the same content in different languages) and has drawn in 33.7-million followers. But he shouldn’t get too comfortable: Trump is gaining headway in second place, with his personal Twitter account at 31.2-million followers.
Burson-Marsteller reckons he should snatch the lead soon, declaring that his months as president have issued him a “robust growth” in followers.
I ask everyone to join me as pilgrims of hope and peace: may your hands in prayer continue to support mine.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) May 12, 2017
But neither Trump nor the Pope should get too cocky: Former US President Barack Obama still sits with a growing base of 89.5-million followers. He remains the third most followed on Twitter behind Katy Perry (99.3-million) and Justin Bieber (95.8-million).
Former US President Barack Obama still sits with a growing base of 89.5-million followers
In third place for most followed current world leader is Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is the most followed leader on Instagram — earning himself a gold and bronze in social media usage.
Yet another wonderful interaction with President Putin at St. Petersburg. pic.twitter.com/MWJUBOzhz0
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 1, 2017
In Sub-Saharan Africa, the most followed leader is Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, with just over 2-million. Behind him are Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. South Africa’s @PresidencyZA missed third place by 200 000 followers.
The study also looked at how governments dealt with the all-important Twitter handovers that happen at the end of a world leader’s run. When Trump was inaugurated, the Twitter transfer was meticulously organized. All of Obama’s tweets as president were moved to @Potus44, and Trump was able to take @Potus (and all Obama’s followers.)
One can assume this process will continue until Twitter is no longer relevant, but if you’re looking to bag a POTUS handle to sell when the time comes, you just weren’t quick enough: numbers up to @Potus100 is taken, and assuming every future president will only serve one term, that could be sold in 220 years.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, the most followed leader is Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta
But the US takeover was peaceful, and some countries haven’t been so lucky.
When former South Korean President Park Geun-hye was impeached, the official presidential account @BlueHouseKorea went offline. It has since been reinstated, with all its followers, but it’s tweets are protected from non-followers. But if you aren’t following, you aren’t missing much: according to the study, the account has been dormant since it went back online.
When former Argentinian President Christina Kirchner was meant to hand over her Twitter to her successor, she famously decided not to divulge the login details. The new government was forced to start again and rebuild following.
— CasaRosada 2003-2015 (@CasaRosadaAR) June 2, 2017
But while she may have been icy, some world leaders are known for their friendliness.
Of all The Netherlands‘ and Nepal’s tweets, 95% are replies to constituents with queries in regards to policies, laws and regulations. Rwandan President Kagame is the top individual on the list, using 79% of his Twitter usage on replies. Of the top ten most conversational, three accounts are Rwandan leaders.
Despite these numbers, though, none of these accounts are the most generally active on Twitter. That title goes to the Mexican government, which averages around 123 tweets a day. South Africa’s presidency account just makes the top ten, with around 38 tweets a day.
This appearance is surprising, though, considering President Jacob Zuma has not used his individual account since 2013, around the time of national election campaign.
Promoting a caring society as a guest of the Evangelical… in Giyani, Limpopo
— Jacob G. Zuma (@SAPresident) October 6, 2013