While Latin is well suited to Francis's messages in terms of their brevity, his phrases are 'difficult to translate.'
While Latin is well suited to Francis's messages in terms of their brevity, his phrases are 'difficult to translate.'

Top of the tweet parade

By Jan Cronje Time of article published Jul 31, 2013

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Cape Town - US president Barack Obama has the most Twitter followers, but Pope Francis’s tweets are more influential, says a study, “Twiplomacy 2013”, by global communications firm Burson-Marsteller.

It ranked the Twitter accounts of 505 heads of state and government, foreign ministers, and kings and queens from 153 countries.

It analyses their profiles, tweet history and connections with each other to see who was the most influential.

President Jacob Zuma had the most followers in Africa and was placed 44th among world leaders, according to number of followers.

But the 256 637 people who follow him pale in comparison to how many follow Obama.

The 44th US president has more than 33 million followers.

In second place is Pope Francis – head of the Vatican City – with 7.2 million followers.

But, despite having only a quarter as many followers as the US president, each tweet the pope sends out gets an average of 11 116 retweets.

Obama, meanwhile, has his tweets retweeted, on average, only 2 309 times.

“By this standard, Pope Francis is by far the most influential tweep,” states the report.

The report also looked at the most influential tweet: here the prize goes to Obama. His tweet of “Four more years”, with a photo of him hugging wife Michelle Obama after winning a second term in office after the 2012 US presidential elections was retweeted 800 000 times.

The report found that while 22 world leaders have accounts with more than one million followers, the only African leader to reach that number was former Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi, with 1.6 million. Following Mursi’s ousting earlier this year, Zuma, who tweets from @SAPresidency, moved to first place among Africa’s leaders.

Among South African politicians, however, Zuma does not occupy first place. Premier Helen Zille has more followers, with just more than 300 000. And Economic Freedom Fighters head Julius Malema has 342 343.

While Zuma might have the most followers among African leaders, he rarely tweets.

He has only tweeted 94 times since May 10, 2011, when he sent his first tweet.

The study found that 71 percent of African government leaders used the service.

While this is slightly lower that the global average of 75 percent, some African leaders were extremely “conversational”. Rwandan President Paul Kagame, for example, uses Twitter almost exclusively to answer questions from his 141 525 followers – 88 percent – and anyone who wants to discuss African issues with him, states the report.

He is joined by Ugandan Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, with just less than 14 000 followers, who is the “most conversational” of all world leaders. “Ninety-six percent of his tweets (are replies) to other users, making him a shining example of how world leaders can engage directly with their constituents on Twitter,” said the study.

While more politicians are using Twitter, they still trail rock stars in total numbers of followers. Justin Bieber, with 42.2 million followers, is first, Katy Perry, with 39.8 million, second and Lady Gaga, 39.2 million, third. - Cape Times


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