By the end of 2013, 4 out of 5 world leaders were using Twitter, according to the Digital Policy Council.
Up nearly 93 percent from 2011, Twitter use among politicians has followed an upward trend since President Obama’s revolutionary use of social media during the 2008 election. Its ability to connect constituents with their elected officials and leaders makes it a uniquely valuable tool for politicians – both domestically and internationally.
“We have seen concrete evidence that platforms like Twitter have helped leaders to gain a global “presence” in the highly-connected global community we live in. The potential influence of Twitter to truly transform leaders is convincing — the way they think, the way they choose to act, and the way they guide and are guided by their people.” – Digital Policy Council
It’s not just world leaders who are signing on to Twitter to interact globally. The Foreign Policy group recently published an article highlighting how U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul’s uses Twitter to share his experiences with both Americans and Russian citizens interested in his work.“It’s a medium that offers me great advantages as an ambassador trying to explain our policies to this giant country,” McFaul said of Twitter. “I can just go to my computer and talk with a scholar in Vladivostok or to an ecologist in Novosibirsk.”
Confining tweets to the 140-character limit is already a daunting task. Maintaining a professional tone and presenting information diplomatically makes McFaul’s job even more challenging.
So what exactly are world leaders, politicians, and officials tweeting about?
McFaul (@McFaul) has been successful in using the network as a way to connect with his host country, discussing issues ranging from Iran, Syria, visas to America, and U.S.-Russia relations with Russian Twitter users.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai (@HHShkMohd) has taken an interactive approach, recently inviting his followers to submit suggestions for the UAE Cabinet retreat. With almost 2.5 million followers, he ranks seventh on the Digital Policy Council’s 2013 list of most followed world leaders.
Interestingly, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia (@SBYudhoyono) quickly climbed the ranks, moving from 54th to 2nd on the list in just one year.
President Obama remains at the top of the list. While his tweets are now highly monitored and less personal, his digital team does utilize the social network to share information and progress through the @BarackObama and @WhiteHouse accounts.