Pope Francis, Not Obama, is Most Influential World Leader on Twitter

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  • Pope Francis receives an Argentina soccer jersey during his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican June 25, 2014.  REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi (VATICAN - Tags: RELIGION)
    Pope Francis receives an Argentina soccer jersey during his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican June 25, 2014. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi (VATICAN - Tags: RELIGION) REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi
  • U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the League of Conservation Voters Capital Dinner at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington June 25, 2014.   REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque  (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
    U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at the League of Conservation Voters Capital Dinner at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington June 25, 2014. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS) REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
  • India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi comes out of a meeting room to receive his Bhutanese counterpart Tshering Tobgay before the start of their bilateral meeting in New Delhi May 27, 2014.   REUTERS/Adnan Abidi
    India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi comes out of a meeting room to receive his Bhutanese counterpart Tshering Tobgay before the start of their bilateral meeting in New Delhi May 27, 2014. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi Reuters/Adnan Abidi
  • Visiting Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono gestures as he delivers a speech during his visit at the presidential palace in Manila May 23, 2014.  REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco
    Visiting Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono gestures as he delivers a speech during his visit at the presidential palace in Manila May 23, 2014. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco
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    A portrait of the Twitter logo in Ventura, California December 21, 2013. Reuters/Eric Thayer
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U.S. President Barack Obama may have the most number of followers on online social networking and microblogging service Twitter, but he is not the portal's most influential world leader. Pope Francis is.

The @BarackObama account (here), as of presstime, has 43.7 million followers. The @Pontifex handle (here) comes second with 14 million followers. Started by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on February 2012, the @Pontifex account has nine versions, including English, Spanish and Italian.

Matthias Lüfkens, who leads the annual Twiplomacy survey, said it is not the number of followers that determine how influential a world leader is, but the number of times a leader's tweet was retweeted.

Read: Pope Francis Likely to Become MafiaTarget as He Excommunicates Italian Mafia

"It's not the number of followers which is really important, but the reach, the engagement," he said.

Pope Francis' tweets on the Spanish handle gets retweeted 10,000 retweets for every tweet, while the English account, 6,462 retweets per tweet.

President Obama's tweets, meantime, are retweeted at just a measly average of 1,442 times per tweet.

Twitter, according to Lüfkens, is an increasingly-powerful tool. "It helps you to broadcast, and if you broadcast to the right audience, that has huge impact," he said.

Read: Pope Francis Cancels July Appointments, Raises Question If Vatican Is Hiding Declining Health

It enables enables politicians to create a sense of intimacy and even interact with one another in public. It also engages world leaders to follow one another mutually, which by itself is already a strong statement.

Rounding off the top five on Twitter's most influential world leaders are Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the White House and Narendra Modi, India's new prime minister.

"He (Modi) is expected to surpass the United States White House account within the next days and is using Twitter as a power tool to broadcast his messages," the study predicted.

Read: Pope Francis Takes Day Off, Nothing Major Says Vatican, Just Tired, Advisers Keen on Doomsday Conspiracy Mill

But there is one called most engaging, and that is Ugandan Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi with the @AmamaMbabazi handle. He actually takes times to respond to his followers and others who tweet at him. Majority or 95 per cent of his tweets are replies.

"Twitter has become a powerful channel for digital diplomacy and 21st century statecraft," Lüfkens said. "World leaders might not necessarily read the tweets addressed to them, but their teams certainly monitor the Twitter activity."

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