India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has become the second most followed world leader behind only US President Donald Trump with 57.9 million followers, overtaking Pope Francis who has 51 million. The Pope has as many as nine different language accounts.
According to the new 2020 Twiplomacy rankings released by global communications firm BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe), Trump was the most followed world leader for the fourth consecutive year with 81.1 million followers, a growth of 33 per cent over last year. Trump is also the most effective world leader on the microblogging site with each of his tweets garnering an average 24,000 retweets, which is slightly better than Saudi King Salman who garners 23,573 retweets per tweet. Modi leads the rankings in terms of true reach as calculated by Klear.com. His account reaches on average 40 million followers, or 70 per cent of his followers with his tweets, twice as many as President Trump who only reaches an audience of 20 million or a quarter of his followers.
The heads of states and governments of 163 countries and 132 foreign ministers maintain personal accounts on the platform. As of June 1, 2020, all 1,089 personal and institutional Twitter accounts of world leaders had a combined total of more than 620 million followers.
Further, governments and leaders of 189 countries have an official presence on the social network, representing 98 per cent of the 193 UN member states. The governments of only four countries are absent-- Laos, North Korea, Sao Tome and Principe and Turkmenistan.
Among foreign ministries, the US State Department is the most followed with 5,843,040 followers on Twitter with the foreign ministry of Saudi Arabia and India completing the top three with 2,708,727 and 1,461,097 followers, respectively. The most tweeted topic by world leaders in the first three months of this year was not surprisingly COVID-19.
Heads of state and foreign ministers took to Twitter to share critical coronavirus information and encouraged their citizens to "stay home" and "stay safe." Many leaders have lead by example updating their Twitter profiles, wearing a face mask and participating in the #SafeHands challenge.
"The coronavirus has been the main topic on Twitter for the past three months, and due to the worldwide lockdown Twitter has seen increased interest," said Chad Latz, Chief Innovation Officer, BCW. "It is therefore vital for world leaders to use channels like Twitter to reach out to their followers to spread critical health warnings and keep their followers abreast of the latest COVID-19-related information. As the pandemic abates in some countries, world leaders will find themselves with an expanded audiences for future engagement."
Other key findings of the study shows Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan was the most followed leader in the Arab world with 10,441,750 followers while Muhammadu Buhari, the president of Nigeria was the most followed Sub-Saharan African leader with 3,121,169 followers. In the EU, French President Emmanuel Macron was the most followed leader with 5,293,346 followers. In Latin America it was Mexico's President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador with 7,098,711 followers, ahead of Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro with 6,625,551 followers.
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