Pope Francis named 'most influential' world leader on Twitter

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Pope Francis. Credit: Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk.

A new global communications report calls Pope Francis the most influential world leader on Twitter, who has the second-largest following among world leaders on the fast-paced social media network.

“Although Pope Francis does not engage with other Twitter users ... his Spanish tweets are re-tweeted on average more than 11,000 times, making him the most influential world leader on Twitter,” the Switzerland-based public relation and communications firm Burson-Marsteller announced July 24.

The firm's “Twiplomacy” report examined the presence and influence of world leaders on Twitter, a social network where users can publish messages of 140 characters or less, called “tweets.” Those who follow someone on Twitter can share tweets by “re-tweeting” them.

The report found that Pope Francis’ Spanish-language tweets are re-tweeted an average of 11,116 times. His English-language tweets are re-tweeted by an average of 8,219 followers.

His closest competitor by this measure is President Barack Obama, whose tweets are re-tweeted on average 2,309 times.

“By this standard, Pope Francis is by far the most influential” Twitter user, the report said.

Benedict XVI launched the “Pontifex” Twitter account on December 12 and built an audience of several million before his February 28 resignation. Pope Francis continued Pope Benedict’s practice of sending short messages reflecting on Jesus and the Christian life after his March 13 election to the papacy.

Burson-Marsteller said the growth of the papal presence on Twitter over the last six months has been “phenomenal.”

Pope Francis now has over 7.2 million followers on Twitter across eight accounts. Besides the English-language “Pontifex” account and the Spanish-language “Pontifex_es” account, he tweets in six other languages: Arabic, French, German, Italian, Latin and Portuguese. His Latin-language account alone has over 130,000 followers.

The Pope is the second most followed world leader on Twitter, after President Obama who has 33.5 million followers.

The “Twiplomacy” report ranked the White House as the third most followed, with a combined 4 million English- and-Spanish-language followers. Turkey’s President Abdullah Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are the fourth and fifth most followed, with 3.4 million followers each.

The report is based on July 2013 data collected on 505 heads of state and government, foreign ministers, and their institutions in 153 countries.

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