Kenya’s President William Ruto is the most influential African Leader on Twitter in 2022, according to the 2022 World Leader Power Ranking report from Twiplomacy, a digital diplomacy initiative by strategic communication agency, BCW Global.
Ruto, who ranks 13th globally and 3rd among the New World Leaders, is followed by South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, and Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni as the second and third most influential leaders on the social networking platform in the continent. Globally, Ramaphosa and Museveni rank 18th and 29th respectively.
BCW’s Twiplomacy new ranking algorithm has been designed to identify what influence is on Twitter among a particular list of handles. Analysing data from October 1, 2021, to September 30, 2022, Twiplomacy’s algorithm assigned a tailored weighting to variables including mentions, tweets, retweets, reach, impressions, follower changes, likes and follower count. It then applied additional variables such as gender, age, length of time in office and others to further contextualise, compare and understand influence factors in the ranking.
At a time when new leadership at Twitter has made the future of digital diplomacy on the platform uncertain, one thing remains clear: You can’t take the social out of social media – even for politicians. The top three bring together big personalities, geopolitical clout, and a strong domestic following – all factors that determine a world leader’s influence on the platform.
What else determines a world leader’s success on Twitter? Authentic, human language; quick reaction times; and a sense of humour or flair – attributes that depart from the formality of traditional diplomacy. Top-ranked leaders in the report – from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy (rising six places into the top 10) to Chilean President Gabriel Boric (breaking into the top 10 in his first year in office) – have engaged audiences with shorter, more emotional content. While President Zelenskyy’s rise is driven in part by widespread support for Ukraine in the wake of war, if this ranking had been released a year earlier, he’d still make the top 15, in part because of his distinctive, raw Twitter personality and skilful use of the platform.
Globally, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi was revealed as the most influential world leader, followed by U.S. President Joe Biden and Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In terms of age, at an average of 58 years, Twiplomacy’s top 10 are two years younger than the average world leader. The analysis found that younger leaders are more likely to communicate with followers using emojis, with the top five under 50 years old using more than the overall top five, including favourites 💪 (strength), 😎 (sunglasses), 🥳 (party) and 🔥 (fire).
Jillian Stead Jones, Director & Digital Adviser for Twiplomacy said, “Our proprietary algorithm uncovered engagement metrics like retweets as the indicators contributing most to influence, which also power a leader’s reach. This signals a shift from the popularity contest of the last decade to a more earned approach, powered by people – and to some extent, an updated algorithm that rewards active participation over passive consumption.”
BCW’s Twiplomacy has been tracking the changes in digital diplomacy, conducting international affairs through digital channels since 2012. Digital diplomacy is now one of the most essential forums for international affairs and has revolutionised global communications, creating new, direct channels of dialogue between the biggest geopolitical entities and the people they serve.