Who are the most noteworthy world leaders on Twitter? Here is our tongue-in-cheek and irreverent Top Twenty Twitterati 2016 list in no particular order and purely based on personal preferences by the Twiplomacy team.
Barack Obama was the first world leader to set up a Twitter account for his election campaign in 2007. Over tthe past decade his campaign account has become the most followed and the most listed among all world leaders. While he is following a record 636,000 other Twitter users, he is giving most other world leaders the cold shoulder. The key question is will he be running his account personally once he leaves office in 2017 and will he follow us? PS.: A retweet may suffice 😉
Humbled. — Barack Obama (@BarackObama) October 9, 2009
@POTUS is the official Twitter account of the President of the United States. Set up in May 2015 it has become the 7th most followed Twitter account of any world leader and is by far the most effective considering that it receives an average of 12,350 retweets and an average of 19,600 likes per tweet. The President of the United States does not tweet every day, but every tweet is carefully crafted and comes across as hand-written by Barack Obama himself.
¿Que bolá Cuba? Just touched down here, looking forward to meeting and hearing directly from the Cuban people.
— President Obama (@POTUS) March 20, 2016
Pope Francis teaches us that social media engagement doesn’t have to be a conversation. Despite only broadcasting, the Pope is the second most followed world leader with more than 28 million followers on his nine Twitter accounts. He rarely shares pictures on Twitter and his visual communication is now happening on Instagram where he has become the third most followed world leader.
Christ is risen! Alleluia!
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) April 20, 2014
Canada’s Justin Trudeau is the rising social media darling, active on most social media channels. Since taking office the Canadian Prime Minister tweets in English and French, although most of the heavy social media lifting is done by his team. His friendly attitude has recently taking a hit after elbowing his way through a parliamentary debate. But then he used Twitter to apologize.
I apologize to my colleagues, to the House as a whole, and to you, Mr. Speaker, for failing to live up to a higher standard of behaviour.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) May 19, 2016
Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri is more active on Snapchat than on Twitter, however some of the most significant Snapchat stories are reposted on his Twitter account.
Vamos Argentina! pic.twitter.com/IZIDDUuJQD
— Mauricio Macri (@mauriciomacri) December 10, 2015
You think emojis are only for kids?! Australia’s Foreign Minister is the undisputed emoji star. She has even given an emotional emoji interview and regularly uses the small visuals to explain complex issues and giving her tweets more character(s).
— Julie Bishop (@JulieBishopMP) May 12, 2016
Dmitry Medvedev will go down in history as the first Russian President on Twitter and since becoming Prime Minister he has put the entire government on the social network. While he exchanged niceties with Barack Obama and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the beginning, his Twitter activity has taken a back seat since December 2012. The amateur photographer prefers to share pictures on his Instagram account.
— Дмитрий Медведев (@MedvedevRussia) November 7, 2012
The Estonian President is a ceremonial job and Toomas Henrik Ilves seems to have lots of time on his hands to tweet but he is regularly attacked by trolls. A must read and follow for anyone interested in cybersecurity and European politics.
Q: So who are the people behind Troll Ops? A: Trollops They’ve been active today. — toomas hendrik ilves (@IlvesToomas) December 21, 2014
The President of Namibia made a splash when he joined Twitter in 2014 with a series of memorable phrases the best one being: « Be a leader not a follower LOL » In 2016 Hage Geingob took suggestions from his Twitter followers for his annual state of the nation address.
Be a leader, not a follower! Lol
— Hage Geingob (@hagegeingob) July 3, 2014
The Turkish President is among the six most followed world leaders on Twitter but that hasn’t kept him from lambasting the social network and shutting down the service in his own country.
The Prime Minister of Malaysia is the selfie specialist, personally snapping selfies with his esteemed guests including Barack Obama, François Hollande and Turkish President Erdogan. He is even using a selfie stick for ‘groufies’ with larger audiences but he hasn’t posted any selfies for a while.
My selfie with President Obama ! pic.twitter.com/mr94wZtmuA
— Mohd Najib Tun Razak (@NajibRazak) April 27, 2014
@Erna_Solberg Kudos to the Norwegian Prime Minister, who is among the most conversational world leaders on Twitter and tweets personally despite suffering from dyslexia and making the occasional spelling mistake. We wish she would write more in English. PS.: we don’t mind the typos.
Steffen Seibert is the voice of Angela Merkel on Twitter. While the German government spokesman is doing a stellar job, he is only her mouthpiece and we would like to hear it from Angela herself.
@32ylater it is Sunday and even I don’t work 24/7, at least not for your questions, I am afraid. You will get your answers.
— Steffen Seibert (@RegSprecher) September 25, 2011
The Prime Minister of Singapore keeps us entertained with his regular #guesswhere cityscapes and fun and engaging selfies even from the hospital bed. His office produced this video for his four year anniversary on social media. Continue to entertain us.
Marking my 4th year on FB & Twitter slightly belatedly. 🙂 Thanks for all your support! – LHL https://t.co/yhwVEjvJcu
— Lee Hsien Loong (@leehsienloong) April 26, 2016
John Kerry had to fight hard to be able to use his personal Twitter account, set up when he was Senator at the State Department. Most of the tweets sent by Senator Kerry have been deleted from the account. The Twitter account is managed by his staff. Our advice: less handshake pictures, less retweets and more personal tweets just like before.
— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) February 4, 2014
No one can ignore the meteoric rise of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his superb use of the platform which has given him an enormous social media footprint. Our prediction is that he will be the most followed world leader by 2017.
India has won! भारत की विजय। अच्छे दिन आने वाले हैं।
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 16, 2014
The President of Azerbaijan is not really diplomatic when he goes on long Twitter rants, lambasting Armenia’s occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and almost declaring war in a tweet.
Just as we have beaten the Armenians on the political and economic fronts, we are able to defeat them on the battlefield.
— Ilham Aliyev (@presidentaz) August 7, 2014
You want a conversational leader? Follow Rwanda’s President @PaulKagame. He doesn’t take any punches and has strong words for his critics.
@MiaFarrow You just dead wrong and biased on# Rw.get facts right n put blame where it be….if you want to be helpful!!!
— Paul Kagame (@PaulKagame) July 23, 2013
The president of Venezuela is the fourth most prolific and the fourth most retweeted world leader, averaging almost 2,500 retweets per tweet. Strangely his tweets are favorited three times less. #Strange
Thank you World and our América from Bolivar’s homeland. Together for the anti-imperialist unity..We shall overcome.. pic.twitter.com/rKxpFRwJ1g
— Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) March 21, 2015
Estonia’s 36-year old Prime Minister has proudly tweeted how easy it is to securely sign documents, pay taxes and e-vote in the most digital country in the world. Next up: cast your vote with a Direct Message on Twitter. #Seriously Since last year he is wearing a tie on his Twitter profile.
I just declared my 2014 taxes while waiting for a plane in Luxembourg airport. It took me 3 minutes and 55 seconds on an ipad. #e-Estonia
— Taavi Rõivas (@TaaviRoivas) February 14, 2015
It takes a lot of courage to come out on Twitter. The Latvian Foreign Minister has done it.
I proudly announce I’am gay… Good luck all of you…
— Edgars Rinkēvičs (@edgarsrinkevics) November 6, 2014
By Matthias Lüfkens, who has been monitoring world leaders tweets for several years.