The number of followers that a Twitter account has is thought to be a reflection of its reach and importance. The more followers that an account has, the more people its messages get out to. Social media experts, however, claim that what it is more important than the number is the quality of followers and whether they are actually a part of the network that the account holder hopes to reach. Increasingly, world leaders are turning to Twitter in order to communicate with the public. In fact, Twitter is considered the most popular social media tool of governments and public figures around the world. This article takes a closer look at which of the current world leaders have the highest number of Twitter followers.
1. Pope Francis
Pope Francis tops the list with 33.72 million Twitter followers, becoming the most followed leader in the world after prior US President Obama left office. This account, @pontifex, is made available in 9 languages and reached 32 million followers just a few days after the Pope’s 80th birthday celebration. The 3 largest groups of followers are divided as follows: Spanish speakers (38.8%), English speakers (31.61%), and Italian speakers (12.78%). The Pope generally tweets messages taken from his speeches and public comments roughly twice a week.
2. Donald Trump
Donald Trump, the 45th President of the US, has the second most highly followed Twitter account of any current world leader. As of the last count, this page has approximately 30.13 million followers. Since his presidential swearing in ceremony in January of 2017, the number of Trump Twitter followers has grown by around 5% every month. If this growth trend continues, the Trump account is expected to surpass that of Pope Francis by the end of August of 2017. Trump uses the Twitter account to report his thoughts on world and US affairs, policies, and his opinion on mass media. He averages several tweets on a daily basis and in one year, receives around 160 million likes and shares.
3. Narendra Modi
Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, comes in at third place on this list, trailing only slightly behind the Trump account with 30.06 million followers on Twitter. This leader uses his Twitter account to share comments, greetings, photos, and videos with his followers. He has been referred to as “the social media politician” by the New York Times and was one of the first world leaders to communicate directly to the public, avoiding traditional channels of mass media. Recently, he had an interview with US reporter Megyn Kelly, who came under fire after asking the Prime Minister if he used Twitter.
4. Prime Minister of India
The official Prime Minister of India position also has an official Twitter account with 18.04 million followers. When previous Prime Minister Manmohan Singh left office, his staff archived the official Prime Minister tweets and followers in a different account and left @pmoindia available for public-taking. A young resident of India took over the account name, only to have it taken back by Twitter shortly after. Opponents of this event criticized Singh and his administration, claiming that it was a bad political move to not hand over the official account when the office changed.
5. President of the US
The official President of the US position also has its own official Twitter account, which is the 5th most followed in the world and has around 14.42 million followers. The @POTUS account was first used by Barack Obama and archived as @POTUS44. The first tweet on the current US President Twitter account was a link to the 2017 presidential inauguration video on the Trump Facebook account.
6. US White House
In addition to having an official presidential Twitter account, the US government also runs a Twitter account for the White House. This account is the 6th most following in the world with around 14.42 million followers. It shares information about current policy under debate in Congress and activities happening in the White House. Some individuals claim it is more professional and politically-minded than either the Trump or US President account.
7. Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the current President of Turkey, has the 7th highest number of Twitter followers of any other world leader. This account has around 10.27 million followers. Interestingly, his administration has been accused of blocking access to several social media sites, including Twitter. This move, which occurred in March of 2014, caused #TwitterisBlockedinTurkey to become the top trending phrase in the world.
8. Sushma Swaraj
Sushma Swaraj, the current Minister of External Affairs in India, has the 8th highest Twitter following of all world leader accounts. As of the last report, Swaraj has approximately 8.01 million followers. She is the first woman on this list, the second woman to serve as a Minister of External Affairs, leader of the Bharatiya political party, and a former Supreme Court lawyer. She uses her account to share her opinion of governmental policies, to greet and acknowledge certain people, and to share pictures of her work.
9. HH Sheikh Mohammed
HH (which stands for His Highness) Sheikh Mohammed has been the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates since 2006. His Twitter account is the 9th most followed of all world leaders and has approximately 7.92 million followers, just under that of Sushma Swaraj. He is often credited with bringing the city of Dubai into the global forefront by facilitating large developmental efforts. He uses his Twitter account to share pictures of himself (either alone or with other people), to announce personal events (like the birth of his son), to inform the public of his work, and to leave spiritual and religious messages for his followers.
10. Joko Widodo
Joko Widodo, the current President of Indonesia, is the 10th most followed world leader on Twitter. His account has around 7.43 million followers, just under that of Sheikh Mohammed. He uses his account to share videos of traditional Indonesian practices, to address the nation on important national holidays, to post pictures of his work with other world leaders and officials, and to promote issues of public interest (like public health and judicial processes). He is well-known for his use of Twitter to reach the general population and has even initiated a platform for questions and answers on the account.