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World Leaders Grow their Audiences on Facebook During Coronavirus Pandemic

Indian Prime Minister Modi continues to be the most popular world leader on Facebook


NEW YORK, World leaders have seen their follower numbers grow exponentially in March 2020 as citizens are looking for guidance during the coronavirus pandemic, according to in the latest 2020 “World Leaders on Facebook” rankings by leading global communications agency BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe).

During the month of March, the 721 pages of world leaders analyzed in the study, part of the Twiplomacy series, have added 13 million new page likes, a 3.7 percent increase, which is almost half of the growth these pages enjoyed overall over the past 12 months. Notably the pages of Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and those of the governments of Austria, Estonia and Italy have more than doubled their page likes in March 2020 alone.

Chief Innovation Officer, Chad Latz, said, “The significant increase in followers of world leaders on Facebook is a logical result of two primary drivers, populations seeking definitive answers on the coronavirus issues and their country’s definitive policy on managing the pandemic, but also the fact that studies are showing that time online generally has increased in some cases up to 36% and on Facebook more than 20%.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is still the most popular world leader on Facebook, with more than 44.7 million likes on his personal page and 13.7 million likes on his institutional Prime Minister of India page, which is in fourth position. U.S. President Donald Trump is the second most popular world leader on Facebook, with more than 26 million likes and Jordan’s Queen Rania is in third position with 16.8 million likes, although she has registered a slight decline over the past 12 months.

For the first time the study, now in its fourth year, has incorporated the true reach per post for each of the Facebook pages of world leaders defined as a prediction of the number of real views an influencer gets per post rather than the volume of followers alone. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi reaches on average 1.7 million of his fans which represents only 3.8 percent of his Facebook community. Brazil’s President reaches on average 956,000 of his 10 million fans and U.S. President Donald Trump, who has 26 million likes, reaches 877,000 fans, i.e. only 3.3 percent of his massive community.

However, U.S. President Donald Trump dominates the rankings for the most interactions with 309 million comments, likes and shares on his Facebook page over the past 12 months, ahead of Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro with 205 million interactions. The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has more than four times as many page likes is only in third place with a total of 84 million interactions over the past 12 months.

The study analyzes the activity of 721 Facebook pages of heads of state and government, and foreign ministers, 29 more than in the 2019 study using aggregate data from Facebook’s CrowdTangle tool. As of March 1, 2020, the pages have a combined total of 362 million page likes and published 435,256 posts in the past 12 months which have garnered a total of 1.383 billion interactions (comments, likes and shares).

Other Key Findings Include:
  • Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo is the most popular leader in Sub-Saharan Africa with 1.6 million likes, ahead of Rwanda’s Paul Kagame. However, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Ali has made it into the Top 10 list with 735,000-page likes and he has the best true reach, reaching 35 percent of his Facebook community.

  • Jordan’s Queen Rania has been topping the list of the most popular leaders in the Middle East and North Africa for several years. Although she has lost some of her page likes, with 16.8 million likes, she has twice as many likes as Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi with 7.6 million likes and is ahead of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, with 3.8 million likes.
     
  • Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro is by far the most popular leader on Facebook in Latin America with more than 10 million page likes ahead of Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador with 6.4 million likes. Nayib Bukele, the new President of El Salvador, has shot into third position with 2,229,506 page likes and a growth rate of 46 percent.
     
  • As of March 1, 2020, French President Emmanuel Macron was the most liked EU leader with 2.5 million likes ahead of Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis with 2.2 and 1.8 million Facebook likes, respectively. However, Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte who enjoys a healthy growth of 26 percent over the past 12 months is bound to become the most followed EU leader.
     
  • For the first time the Russian Foreign Ministry tops the list of the most active world leaders with an average of more than 27 posts per day over the past 12 months. The governments of Uzbekistan and Botswana are in second and third position with more than 20 posts per day.

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