How Social is your Leader?

Are you on Twitter?  Is the leader of your country on Twitter?  Do you follow Xavier Bettel?

With the recent win of Narendra Modi as Prime Minister of the World’s largest democracy, I thought it important to hear what the man had to say.  Billed as pro-business, and overall, positive for the Indian, and thus, the World Economy, Mr. Modi’s views would certainly have an impact on our firm and our funds.

The best way for me to interact with Mr. Modi, and hear his views and those of many other world leaders is by following their twitter feeds.

Mr. Modi has added about 300k Twitter followers since he became Prime Minister of India.  His 4.53mm users make him among the top 3 most followed leader in the world behind Barack Obama at 43 million followers and neck and neck with Turkish President Gul (he lobbied against the Turkish twitter ban.)


Despite the emergence of social media (here we focus on Twitter) World leaders currently utilizing the medium, are not having a whole lot of success attracting constituents to their feeds.

To try and add some context, here (based on our research) are the top 15 world leaders by followers on Twitter.


I thought a few things and wanted to highlight a few of them.

  1. Turkey banned access to Twitter (since lifted) yet their President has a number of followers.
  2. India has almost 1.3 billion people, but Modi has only 4.5mm followers
  3. Obama clearly benefits from his celebrity, activity on Twitter and the profile of his office.
  4. What is the impact on internet penetration on number of followers on Twitter for a World leader?
  5. Can we create a score that would be a function of population, internet use, and followers, to get a true score of World Leaders Twitter success?

The Score

(Population x Internet Penetration) divided by Twitter Followers

A pretty simple approach, I tried to give a score that would adjust for countries with a smaller population, and for those who also have low internet penetration.

A new picture emerged.  Interestingly, the correlation between per capita wealth and our score is spurious.

Leaders of small wealthy countries with high internet penetration rates populate the list alongside poorer countries with lower internet use rates.


The most interesting thing is that many of the G7 leaders lag in both absolute followers, and their score.  It seems that we are more interested in Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber than hearing policy tweets from the likes of David Cameron and Stephen Harper.

I’m sure we have some gaps in our data, but I’m happy to share it.


Return to Blog