New York, Apr 11: There's no denying Prime Minister Narendra Modi's personal popularity among Indians, as borne out in a poll conducted by Facebook that rated him as the most popular world leader on Facebook, beating US President Donald Trump decisively.
Mr Modi notched up more than 43.5 million likes on his personal page and 13.7 million likes on his institutional Prime Minister of India page, according to a newly-released 2019 World Leaders on Facebook study.
Mr Trump ranked second, with more than 23 million likes on his personal Facebook page, while Jordan's Queen Rania was in third position with 16.9 million likes, reaching an Arabic and English audience, well beyond the 5.8 million Facebook users in Jordan.
However, Brazil's new President Jair Bolsonaro, who took office on January 1, 2019, swelled in popularity and dominated the rankings of World Leaders on Facebook, over the past 12 months. He was ranked in the top slot for interactions and his Facebook page registered more than 145 million interactions -- almost twice as many as that of Mr Trump, who had 84 million total interactions and 2.5 times as many followers.
The study, part of the Twiplomacy series by leading global communications agency BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe), also found increased use of paid posts by world leaders. Using aggregate data from Facebook's CrowdTangle tool, the study analysed the activity of 962 Facebook pages of heads of state and government and foreign ministers, 50 more than in the 2017 study. As of March 1, 2019, the pages had 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).
In Africa, Kenya's Uhuru Kenyatta was the most popular leader in Sub-Saharan Africa with 3.6 million likes, ahead of Ghana's President Nana Akufo-Addo with 1.6 million likes, the study said. Jordan's Queen Rania, who has been topping the list of the most popular leaders in the Arab world for several years, garnered 16.9 million likes, that is double the number of followers of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (7.3 million likes) and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, with 3.8 million likes.
In Latin America, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro outstripped Mexico's new President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in popularity with 5.6 million likes and Argentinian President Mauricio Macri with 4.4 million likes. However, the page of the British royal family has its devoted following, making them the most followed world leaders in the European Union with 4.1 million likes, leaving behind French President Emmanuel Macron with 2.3 million likes and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis with 1.8 million likes.
With Facebook's change of algorithm, favouring posts from friends, family and groups, it has become more difficult for pages of governments and world leaders to reach their audiences. Followers of world leaders' Facebook pages grew by 10 per cent year-on-year, but the interactions on their pages dropped significantly.
While world leaders registered 1.1 billion interactions in 2016, that number has decreased by 32.3 per cent, compared to their interactions in 2018.
To counter the changes to the algorithm, many leaders are promoting their posts and pages with Facebook ads, as in the case of Mr Trump and UK Prime Minister Theresa May, who have been posting paid ads.
In early February 2019, German Chancellor Angela Merkel deleted her personal Facebook page @AngelaMerkel, which had 2.5 million fans, after giving up the post of leader of the Christian Democratic Union, and in mid-March 2019, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta temporarily deactivated all his social media profiles, including his Facebook page, which has 3.6 million followers. (UNI)