Social media has emerged as a viable tool for world leaders to interact with people directly without interference from media organizations. Leaders who were highly dependent on traditional channels like electronic and non-electronic media to relay their messages have been shifting their focus to social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, which provides them with a seamless interface to interact with people, not only in their respective nations but also around the world.
With rising utilization of these platforms, social media giants like Facebook have been rapidly evolving their policies to accommodate this upsurge. Introduction of more transparent and accountable working frameworks have also enabled leaders to monitor and analyze their reach and impact on these platforms.
In a recent study conducted by leading global communications agency BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe), part of the Twiplomacy series different aspects of this rising trend of social media’s instrumentality have emerged. According to the newly released 2019 World Leaders on Facebook study, Indian Prime Minister has emerged by far the most popular world leader on Facebook. With more than 43.5 million likes on his personal page and 13.7 million likes on his institutional page, i.e., @PMOIndia, PM Modi has topped the list.
US president Donald Trump trailing behind PM Modi in the second place with more than 23 million likes on his personal Facebook page, Jordanian Queen Rania on the third position with 16.9 million likes.
According to the report, leaders of 182 have registered their official presence on Facebook which is 94 percent of 193 UN member states. Eritrea, Laos, Mauritania, Nicaragua, North Korea, Swaziland and Turkmenistan and a small handful of Pacific island states are the few nations whose leaders do not have any official presence on the digital platform.
The 2014 general elections saw a huge impact of these digital platforms that empowered crores of Indians to interact directly with political leaders, bypassing the traditional channels. Indian traditional media, which has been traditionally dominated by a group of select elites felt the pinch because of their declining relevance.
Using data from Facebook’s CrowdTangle tool 962 pages of several official accounts of heads of government, foreign ministry and others were analyzed in this study. As of March 1, 2019, these pages have a combined total of 345 million page likes and published 449,739 posts in the past 12 months which have garnered a total of 767 million interactions (comments, likes and shares).
Chad Latz, Chief Innovation Officer, BCW said, “Additionally, we see how some leaders are very successful by being personal and approachable on the platform using all the tools at their disposal, from Facebook Live to Facebook Stories, to engage their audiences.”
PM Modi has also been evolving his social media presence on other platforms to maximize his reach. On Instagram PM Modi has around 19.9 million followers and around 46.8 Million followers on Twitter.