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78% of world leaders have Twitter account, study shows

“While Twitter is certainly not the only channel of communication and will not replace face-to-face meetings, it allows for direct peer-to-peer interaction." (Credit: www.wikipedia.org)

“While Twitter is certainly not the only channel of communication and will not replace face-to-face meetings, it allows for direct peer-to-peer interaction.” (Credit: www.wikipedia.org)

Global public relations and communications firm Burson-Marsteller recently released “Twiplomacy,” an annual global study of world leaders on Twitter, which showed that more than three-quarters (77.7 percent) of world leaders have an account on that social media platform and two-thirds (68 percent) have made mutual connections with their peers.

“Twiplomacy” aims to identify to what extent world leaders use Twitter. In early July 2013 Burson-Marsteller analyzed 505 government accounts in 153 countries.

While the study does not include details about how local government and political leaders use Twitter to interact with their peers, a quick search of the micro-blogging site shows that a relatively small group of Puerto Rico’s current and former political leaders have accounts that they use mostly to advance their political beliefs, and in some cases, share their personal thoughts.

The list includes: Gov. Alejandro García-Padilla (@agarciapadilla), First Lady Wilma Pastrana‏ (@Wilma_Pastrana), Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi (@PierluisiPNP), Secretary of State David Bernier (‏@DavidBernierPR), Economic Development and Commerce Secretary Alberto Bacó (@BacoFomento), House Speaker Jaime Perelló (‏@jrperello), Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Executive Director Juan Eugenio Hernández-Mayoral ‏(@juaneugeniohm), former Secretary of State Kenneth McClintock — who is possibly the most active of the group on Twitter — (@PRKDMc); and former Gov. Aníbal Acevedo-Vilá (@anibalacevedo).

The study’s findings indicate that U.S. President Barack Obama @BarackObama is still the most followed world leader on Twitter with more than 33 million followers. However, while almost a third (148) of all world leaders and governments are following Obama he is not the best-connected leader. @BarackObama only mutually follows two other world leaders — Norway’s Jens Stoltenberg and Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev.

Gov. García-Padilla's Twitter page.

Gov. García-Padilla’s Twitter page.

While Gov. García-Padilla, Pastrana, Pierluisi, Bacó, McClintock and Acevedo-Vilá all follow Obama, the opposite does not hold true — perhaps not surprisingly and in line with the findings.

Burson-Marsteller — as well as this media outlet — used Doesfollow to analyze Twitter relations between local and world leaders.

The @WhiteHouse and the @StateDept are followed by 132 and 99 peers respectively, but they are also giving all other world leaders the cold shoulder: The @WhiteHouse follows three other leaders and the @StateDept is not following any other Foreign Ministry.

The Pope (@Pontifex) has become the second most followed world leader with more than 7 million followers on his nine different accounts. Although Pope Francis does not engage with other Twitter users, especially his Spanish tweets are re-tweeted on average more than 11,000 times, making him the most influential world leader on Twitter. In comparison @BarackObama’s tweets are only re-tweeted on average 2,309 times despite his massive following.

“This study illustrates how Twitter and social media in general have become part and parcel of any integrated government communications”, said Jeremy Galbraith, CEO of Burson-Marsteller Europe, Middle East and Africa.

“While Twitter is certainly not the only channel of communication and will not replace face-to-face meetings, it allows for direct peer-to-peer interaction. I expect we will see an increasing number of corporations and CEOs also embracing the new tools that are connecting our world leaders”, he said.

‘Formidable broadcasting tool’
The study found that Twitter has become a formidable broadcasting tool for world leaders. Although not being conversational, the @Pontifex account has seen phenomenal Twitter growth over the past six months as have the accounts of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono @SBYudhoyono and Venezuela’s President @NicolasMaduro who both signed up to Twitter in March 2013 and now rank among the top 20 most followed world leaders.

Even dormant accounts of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff @DilmaBR and French President François Hollande @FHollande, who both suspended tweeting after being elected, have seen their followers increase.

“People want to engage with their leaders on Twitter”, notes Matthias Lüfkens, Burson-Marsteller’s digital practice leader EMEA and author of the report, “However, it is astonishing to see that accounts with the largest number of followers have the least interaction with other Twitter users.”

There are 227 personal accounts and 76 world leaders tweet personally albeit many only occasionally. Seven of the G8 leaders have a personal Twitter account and all but one of the G20 governments have an official Twitter presence.

Twitter is also used by smaller nations to put them on the world map and tweet eye-to-eye with their peers. The Croatian government (@VladaRH) and the Foreign Minister of Iceland (@MFAIceland) are unilaterally following 195 and 142 peers and world leaders respectively in the hope that they will return the favour.

The Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority uses Twitter to interact with residents and convey agency news.

The Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority uses Twitter to interact with residents and convey agency news.

All 45 European governments now have an official presence on Twitter. In South America all countries except Suriname have an official Twitter presence. In North America, Asia and Africa 79 percent, 76 percent and 71 percent of all governments have a Twitter account. Only a third (38.4 percent) of all governments in the Pacific use the micro-blogging service.

In Puerto Rico, many of the major public agencies — namely the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (‏@AEEONLINE), the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (@ACUEDUCTOSPR), the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (@PRTourismCo), the Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency (@AEMEADPR), as well as La Fortaleza (@fortalezapr) and the State Department (@DeptEstadoPR), all use Twitter to convey official messages and interact with citizens.

Data used was taken in July 2013 from the accounts of 505 heads of state and government, foreign ministers and their institutions in 153 countries worldwide looking at more than 50 variables using Twitonomy.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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