I tweeted recently about the state of the Twitter business as far as Heads of State were concerned.  With the arrival of new kid on the block, Hugo Chavez (you rebel, you) and the upcoming general election in the UK, I feel that the topic is hot!

As of today, below is the hit parade ranked by the number of followers.  I have put the handle that each has decided to use as well the number of accounts they are following, the last time they tweeted and the total number of tweets.  If I were to be a bit more methodical I might have put their starting date (initiation to Twitter), however, then I might need to put down when they started their reign, etc., and then we’re getting into some silly algorithms.

Here are the five main considerations I have about this list of 18 different heads of state on Twitter.

  1. In terms of following strategies, there are basically three approaches: follow a lot, follow no one or follow 1 in every 4.  The average of the 18 accounts is that a head of state follows a number that is 16.1% of its followees.  The vast majority are in the follow no-one camp.
  2. I can’t comment on the quality of the tweets in each case because of the language constraints, but there is quite a variety of tweeting styles (or should I say counsels!).  You will see a range going from PM Rudd is so personal as recount what he has eaten recently, to Queen Rania using the “2” for “to”, and Sheik Mohammed who uses quite a nice combination of personal and official tweets.  Many include a link each time.  Others include words of emotion and feelings.  Others are just non existent (why not just shut it down then!).
  3. What is with Prime Minister Gordon Brown (DowningStreet) and President Nicolas Sarkozy (Elysée) using their address as their handle? [Arroyo (PresidentGMA) is not much better.]  Delusions of grandeur? Designs to rob future dignitaries of THE handle?  For Brown’s ongoing (outgoing?) political presence post-May 6th, I suppose he will have to start all over again (not that there really is a life after having been head of state/prime minister?).
  4. Half of the leaders have stayed absolutely current (tweeted today). I note that in the run up to d-day for Gordon Brown that he has stopped using it since 20th April… is it that he no longer considers it a vital part of his marketing mix at crunch time?  The number of tweets compared to the number of followers is an interesting stat.  With Brown’s prolific tweeting up until his last tweet, he theoretically hit 3.2 billion sets of eyeballs (tweets x followers) versus 2.6 billion for Obama. What is for sure is that it is not about the quantity of tweets, nor the absolute quantity of followers that truly count, but what is going on behind in terms of RTs and engagement, etc.
  5. Where are Merkel and Putin? (Medvedev who?)
HandleNameFollowersFollowingLast tweet# of Tweets
barackobama*Barack Obama3,858,383729,0564/5/10685
downingstreet*Gordon Brown (UK)1,737,390478,22420/4/101848
QueenRania*Rania Al Abdullah (Jordan)1,271,20457Today368
KevinRuddPM*Kevin Rudd (Australia)920,087202,143Today619
hatoyamayukio*Yukio Hatoyama (Japan)574,527105,507Today152
HHSHKMOHD*Sheikh Mohammed Al Maktoum (UAE)335,1224126/3/10314
Chavezcandanga*Hugo Chavez (Venezuela)204,4695Today18
sebastianpinera*Sebastian Piñera (Chile)91,37623,37324/4/10817
PMHarper*Stephen Harper (Canada)50,902127602/5/10248
JensStoltenbergJens Stoltenberg (Norway)28,36225,138Today303
reflexionfidelFidel Castro (Cuba)20,0561530/4/10115
NajibRazakNajib Abdul Razak (Malaysia)16,18125Today893
JohnKeyPMJohn Key (NZ)9,1558844/5/10385
LarsloekkeLars Løkke Rasmussen (Denmark)5,3022,749Today190
Netanyahu*Benjamin Netanyahu (Israel)3,688418Today388
PresidentGMAGloria Arroyo (Philippines)2,7068411/7/0933
Elysee*Nicolas Sarkozy (France)2,332023/4/106
VDombrovskisValdis Dombrovskis (Latvia)2,3037225/4/1090

* officially verified by Twitter.

Twitter’s recent numbers as announced at CHIRP speak of the wildfire contagion (180 million unique visitors per month; 300,000 new users per day…).  Its use in Iran and in natural disasters and emergencies has given the service a bit more “weight.”  However, in businesses especially on mainland Europe (below Holland), it remains a hot potato.  Surely when the political leader takes it on board and finds a good angle and voice, it helps catapult Twitter to the fore and “authorise” business leaders to go down the route of being personality-bosses.  Until or if Sarkozy decides to use Twitter (why not under his own name, too?), is France going to stay rear-guard on Twitter?  Ironically, “France” is 21st on the list of hot topics twittering around the world, though perhaps not yet for the French (only 127K French Twitters or 0.2% versus 63% awareness!).

So, anyone want to make any predictions for a year from now?  Will the installed political leaders be using more or less of Twitter than they are today?

—Update (30 Oct 2010): Was sent a mail this week by Nathan Grimm, from Guide to Online Schools, telling me of Dictators’ widget that allows you to track the twitter feed of the world’s top three dictators (Chavez, Kim Jong Il and Fidel Castro).  He has created a widget that you can upload on to your site…

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