A recent study by Twiplomacy reports that Pope Francis is the most influential world leader on Twitter, with the highest number of retweets from his @Pontifex account. Pope Francis gets an average of 11,100 retweets for every Spanish tweet and 8,200 retweets for each English tweet, whereas President Obama's account typically gets an average of only 2,300 retweets.
The world leader with the most followers is Barack Obama with 33.5 million people getting updates from @BarackObama, but Pope Francis takes the number two spot with 7.2 million followers spread across his nine different language-based @Pontifex accounts.
Matthias Lüfkens of Twiplomacy clarified in a message to The Huffington Post that "world leader" was defined as heads of states and government accounts of UN member states, which accounts for the absence of the Dalai Lama.
Though the Vatican is a non-member permanent observer state at the UN, exceptions were made in the study for the Vatican, Kosovo, and Palestinian territories. However, if Tibet were to be included with the Dalai Lama as its spiritual leader, his @DalaiLama handle would beat out @Pontifex for the second-most followed account with 7.35 million followers.
The infographic is here:
Another study done in June tracked influence amongst all verified tweeters, not just world leaders. Influence is determined by how many times a tweet has been replied to or retweeted, and the most engaged and influential leaders are not pop stars, but religious leaders.
A Twitter employee, Robin Sloan, asked the question "Why are some tweets more popular than others?" with surprising results, as evangelical Christian leaders like Joyce Meyers, Max Lucado, and Andy Stanley all authored tweets that were "punching way above their weight."
Their largely inspirational messages perform a staggering 30 times as well as tweets from top tweeter and pop culture icon Lady Gaga, who boasts over 39 million followers even though her account has been temporarily shut down.