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Twiplomacy study names top Twitter sites

The twitter sites of UNICEF, UN and Davos are the most followed international organisations on Twitter according to the Burson-Marsteller's latest edition of 'Twiplomacy'. The heads of the Arab League, the IMF and NATO are the most followed heads of international organisations.
The study looks specifically at international organisations and their leaders on Twitter. The study shows that all leading international organisations have a Twitter account and half of their leaders have active personal accounts on the social network.

Twiplomacy study names top Twitter sites

Most followed

The findings indicate that the United Nations Children's Fund is the most followed international organisation with more than two million followers. It is also the second most effective organisation after the European Organisation for Nuclear Research because both organisations' tweets are retweeted on average more than 100 times.

The study, one of the leading researches of its kind, is aimed at identifying to what extent world leaders, governments and international organisations use Twitter. In early November 2013, the company analysed 223 accounts of 101 international organisations.

"Understanding the use and application of social media is now essential to effective strategic communications efforts," said Burson-Marsteller's worldwide chair and CEO Don Baer. "Our study has become the industry standard for advancing that understanding.

Key findings

    • Nabil Elaraby, the secretary general of the Arab League is the most followed head of an international organisation with more than 346,000 followers.

    • Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and NATO's Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen are in second and third position with more than 150,000 followers each.

    • Those international organisations who signed up to Twitter in 2007 and early 2008 are also among the most followed today. Five of them have more than a million followers each, namely @UNICEF, the @UN, the World Economic Forum (@Davos), the UN Refugee agency (@Refugees) and the World Wide Fund for Nature (@WWF). All international organisations combined have 18,325,589 followers.

    • Geneva-based organisations have 6,197,506 followers, beating New York to second place where organisations total 5,598,909 followers.

    • Fifty heads of international organisations have personal Twitter accounts that are managed either personally or with their teams. Twitter has played a crucial role in the election of Roberto Azevêdo, the new head of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) who tweets as @WTODGAzevedo. The first act of the new secretary general of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Mukhisa Kituyi, was to set up his personal Twitter account @UNCTADKituyi.

    • The study found that the secretary general of the East African Community is the most conversational head of any international organisation. More than 65% of Richard Sezibera's tweets are @replies to other users. Overall, international organisations are less conversational than their leaders with the notable exception of @Eurocontrol, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, which has been answering questions about flight delays since the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland disrupted air travel across Europe in 2010.

More resources needed for social media

The World Economic Forum and the @GlobalFund have recently run direct message campaigns, reaching out directly to their most influential followers on Twitter to push their reports and campaigns. They are also among a handful of accounts that allow any follower to send them direct messages, effectively opening up a new two-way channel of communication.

"Credit goes to the social media managers in each organisation who are often alone to manage an organisation's Twitter account and other social media platforms on top of their day job. Organisations that put more resources into their digital communications are the ones who will be most effective over the coming years," notes Matthias Lüfkens, Burson-Marsteller's digital practice leader EMEA and author of the report.

To access the complete analysis of these findings, go to

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