7 Engaging Heads of State You Should Follow
Last month I wrote about two very inspiring speakers who I had the opportunity to hear at The Marker Com.vention in Tel Aviv: Alec Ross, Senior Advisor for Innovation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Macon Phillips, Special Assistant to the President and Director of Digital Strategy at the White House. Both spoke passionately about social media as an essential communication tool for governments and heads of state.
Ever since the conference, I have found myself friending and following various political leaders from across the globe. I must admit that I was quite taken aback by how seriously leaders from across the political spectrum seem to be taking social media. I had mistakenly assumed that government types, who often wear their trousers too high and their top buttons too tight, would dismiss social media as trivial or unnecessary.
I had also underestimated the willingness of governments and political leaders to openly interact with the media, interest groups, lobbyists, and the general public, who watch their every move and just wait for an opportunity to criticize and turn a tiny slip up into a landslide chasm of character assassination.
So I decided to investigate further and develop a list of the top seven heads of state who are braving the Twitosphere. Some are impressive, some are amusing, and some are just bizarre.
1) Barack Obama – President of the United States - @BarackObama
Why: The 44th President of the United States is the first president to really engage in social media, including Twitter. And wow, is he good at it. With 16 million followers and almost 5,000 tweets, and with the US elections on the horizon, this account is a “must follow.” President Obama tweets about everything from public policy to humour. He instagrams and links to political debates. He even plugs his wife’s account @michelleobama. Simply put, he’s the ultimate tweeter.
2) David Cameron – Prime Minister of Great Britain - @Number10gov
Why: Forever prim and proper, the PM of Great Britain embodies the English attitude rather well. Yet, he has been using social media channels to try to present himself as one of the people, who can mix it with the common folk. With the London Olympics coming up, this account might provide a unique perspective of “The Games.”
3) Dato’Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak – Prime Minister of Malaysia - @NajibRazak
Why: The Economist calls Najib a “well-intentioned man” fighting for “right and proper” reform, who faces obstructionism not only from the opposition, but from his own party as well. He seems to be a decent person who is trying to make a difference in his country. I presume he originally turned to Twitter because it was impossible to fit his name on a campaign button. In any case, he is a prominent political leader and worth a follow.
4) Hugo Chavez – President of Venezuela - @hugochavezfrias
Why: For better or worse, Chavez is one of the world’s most uninhibited extroverts, always finding ways to get himself into the headlines with his unusual ideas. Back in 2007, he created a new time zone for his country, setting clocks back half an hour, saying it would increase morale. This unpredictability translates directly into his tweets. Last month he gave away a house to a Venezuelan who became his three millionth follower. Put it this way, he’s never boring!
5) Rania Al Abdullah – Queen of Jordan - @QueenRania
Why: Despite her intense regal schedule, Queen Rania never skips an opportunity to tweet her followers. A true techie at heart, this queen has her own Facebook profile, YouTube channel and website. With a great public image that borders on celebrity status, she really harnesses the power of social media to lend support to various worldwide campaigns, especially for education and cross-cultural dialogue.
6) Kevin Rudd – Former Prime Minister of Australia - @KRuddMP
Why: Kevin Rudd tweets regularly and engages with his followers. Though he is not a current head of state, he just seems more engaging, honest, and genuine with his tweets than the current PM, Julia Gillard. That perhaps is why he has more than one million followers!
7) Elizabeth Windsor – The Queen of England (well, her parody account) - @Queen_UK
Why: Probably one of the funniest accounts on Twitter. I don’t know who’s writing these brilliant parody tweets, but he or she is always responding in real-time to current events. This account already has close to one million followers.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and to find out about more political leaders who are actively using social media. Please share their names and I’ll take a look.