In less than seven months, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has racked up more than 1 million followers on Twitter, using the 140-character medium to denounce an uprising in Ecuador, congratulate the election of new leftist president of Brazil, and announce business deals.
"Hello beautiful world. I would like to thank all my followers," Mr. Chávez tweeted on Monday from his account, @chavezcandanga. "We've passed the million mark! Woo-hoo!"
When Chávez started tweeting back in April, the Guardian doubted whether the former military officer could limit his verbose speech to fit the Twitter medium.
"How regularly the president will compress his freewheeling, folksy, meandering, epic discourses into the new medium remains to be seen. He is a talented TV communicator but by his own admission does not know when to shut up," the British newspaper wrote. "His Sunday show, Alo Presidente (Hello President), a largely unscripted monologue, often exceeds seven hours, amounting to 54,000 words, or 333,000 characters, about the length of a romance novel."
Perhaps Chávez has figured out the trick: Tweet often. In May, he reportedly opened a special government department with 200 employees to handle his Twitter account.
Since then, he's accrued an average of 4,600 new Twitter followers daily.
Venezuela's opposition parties are also catching on to the power of social media. From their account @unidadvenezuela, they "waged a Twitter battle for influence" in September's legislative elections, as Agence France-Presse put it.
It seems unlikely that Chávez was paying attention to their tweets. Perhaps signaling how important he thinks others' words are, he follows only 20 people on Twitter (among them are Brazil's new President Dilma Rousseff and the account "Reflections of Fidel").
Though he is Latin America's most-followed leader on Twitter, Chávez remains far short of President Obama's 5.7 million followers. And while Mr. Obama is considered the "first official elected through social media," Chávez's recent setback in legislative elections could foreshadow him becoming the first official ousted despite a command of social media.