Which World Leader Craves the Most Attention on Social Media?

Obama participated in a Twitter "Town Hall" event in 2011.

Obama participated in a Twitter "Town Hall" event in 2011. Charles Dharapak/AP file photo

Obama has the most followers, but Pope Francis gets the most engagement.

The 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns of Barack Obama were lauded for their digital acumen and, specifically, the camp's use of social media. According to a new study, Obama has translated those Twitter skills to the White House, though he sometimes lags behind other world leaders in engagement.

Twiplomacy , an annual survey by global public relations and communications firm Burson-Marsteller, measures the ways heads of state, ministries and government accounts use Twitter.

The @BarackObama account leads the list of government and world leader accounts as the most followed. With more than 43.7 million followers, the account nearly triples the collected nine accounts of runner up Pope Francis ' 14.1 million followers. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono 's account is third with 5.1 million followers, and newly elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi ranks fifth with 5 million followers.

The official White House account ranks fourth on the list and is separate from the @BarackObama account, which is run by Obama's nonprofit Organizing for Action (the organization closely tied with the Obama campaigns and Obama for America). The United States government has already reserved @POTUS in case Obama's successor decides to use the account for official purposes. The account is currently private, so information about number of accounts it follows or tweets it has posted is not available. Vice President Joe Biden tweets via the official U.S. government @VP account, which has 317,000 followers.

While Obama's account has the most followers by a wide margin, the president's engagement metrics and frequency of tweets are not as high as other accounts. The official account of the Mexican president ( @PresidenciaMX ) has proven to be the most prolific since joining the service in 2009, posting on average 78 tweets per day. The official account of the Venezuelan presidency ( @PresidencialVen ) has posted nearly 50,000 tweets, averaging almost 40 tweets per day. Since Jan. 1, 2014, Obama's account has posted 1,283, averaging about seven tweets per day.

After his re-election in November 2012, Obama posted a photo of he and first lady Michelle Obama embracing.

The tweet became the most retweeted post -- more than 700,000 users retweeted it -- on the service until Ellen DeGeneres' Oscar photo surpassed it 18 months later.

Despite single events such as his re-election, Obama lags behind other world leaders in engagement. Obama's tweets are on average only retweeted 1,442 times, while each of Pope Francis' Spanish-language tweets averages around 10,000 retweets. Among his most retweeted posts include a tweet asking users to pray for him, which has been retweeted more than 28,000 times.

Obama's Twitter presence, comparatively, eschews Twitter diplomacy. While Obama is followed by 222 other leaders, his account only follows two other world leaders: Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg ( @Erna_Solberg ) and Russia’s Dmitry Medvedev ( @MedvedevRussiae ). The Obama personal account stays out of tweeting about antyhing but domestic policy, while the White House account sends users to live streams of Obama press conferences on diplomacy or posts quotes from Obama on foreign or military policy . Neither account tweets at other foreign leaders on Twitter.

Like regular Twitter users, the study says, world leaders "vie for attention, connections and followers on Twitter" via their accounts. Like a former college classmate, the Obama account is not above posting links to petitions , name-dropping celebrities or pushing adorable photos on its followers.

Obama is the first world leader to sign onto the service, having joined in March 2007, a year after Twitter launched. The then-senator's first tweet was seven weeks later, urging users to sign a petition against then-being waged war in Iraq.

Most world leaders starting using Twitter in 2010 and 2011, with only 126 of the 642 current accounts having been activated before 2010 . In 2011 alone, 154 leaders signed up for Twitter. In all, 161 of the 193 United Nations members state governments have a presence on the service, with most of the nonusers coming from Africa and the central Pacific.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.