President Muhammadu Buhari has emerged the most followed Sub-Saharan African leader on Twitter during the COVID-19 pandemic, a study by one of the leading global communications agency Burson Cohn and Wolfe (BCW) has revealed.
The BCW Twiplomacy study 2020, which focuses on how world leaders have tweeted during the coronavirus pandemic and how Twitter has tried to keep the chat clean from disinformation, revealed that Buhari recorded 3.1 million followers ahead of President Paul Kagame of Rwanda’s 1.9 million followers. PMB’s Twitter follower growth within the period when Coronavirus began in mid-March until June was 51 percent.
Speaking on the outcome of the research, Chief Innovation Officer, BCW, Chad Latz said: “It is therefore vital for world leaders to use channels like Twitter to reach out to their followers to spread critical health warnings and keep their followers abreast of the latest COVID-19-related information. As the pandemic abates in some countries, world leaders will find themselves with an expanded audience for future engagement.”
The Group Managing Director, CMC Connect BCW (the affiliate company of BCW in Nigeria), Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, lauded the BCW global network for the professionalism that culminated in the timely release of the study.
He said: “This report will encourage leaders who have been lagging behind to tap into opportunities provided by social media to communicate rightly by increasing their activities on the platforms to educate and inform their people. COVID 19 has changed many around the globe, and in Africa the need to communicate what the government is doing and saying shows some level of transparency.”
The 2020 Twiplomacy edition revealed that governments and leaders of 189 countries had an official presence on the social network, representing 98 percent of the 193 UN member states.
The study revealed that the leaders use Twitter to share critical coronavirus information and encourage their citizens to “stay home” and “stay safe.”
The study added that many leaders have been leading by example and updating their Twitter profiles, wearing a face mask and participating in the #SafeHands challenge, “world leaders and diplomats also had to adapt to working from home and have been thrust into video conferences, making diplomacy truly digital.”
The study explained that globally, US President Donald Trump is still the most followed world leader with more than 81 million followers and counting, while the governments of four countries namely Laos, North Korea, Sao Tome and Principe and Turkmenistan do not have a Twitter presence.