Narendra Modi, India’s newly elected prime minister who won a landslide historic election earlier this year, has been recognized for his savvy use of social media during his national campaign and after. Today, Modi’s personal handle, @NarendraModi with 4,983,667 followers has overtaken @WhiteHouse in a race for Twitter fans. The White House has 4,980,910 followers. With the new surge in numbers, Modi is the fourth most-followed global leader on the microblogging site.
But the numbers game is more than just an ego trip or an exercise in narcissism, even though there is a significant element of national pride with Modi’s surging Twitter presence. However, political strategists and social media experts are increasingly realizing the value and reach of Twitter and other online media platforms in matters relating to diplomacy and communication. Global PR and corporate communications firm, Burson-Marsteller, released a recent study on social media activities of governments and leaders worldwide on Tuesday. The report coined the term “Twiplomacy,” which stood for socio-political and diplomatic outreach done by such actors to interact and influence their audiences.
The same study placed U.S. President Barack Obama with his handle @BarackObama, at the top of the Twitter ladder with 43.69 million followers. The second highest account belongs to Pope Francis (@Pontifex), followed by the Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (@SBYudhoyono). Next comes Prime Minister Modi, who pushed ahead of the White House, the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who tweets with @RT_Erdogan, and President Abdullah Gul, who uses @cbabdullahgul. Both Turkish leaders have approximately 3.4 million followers each. The Pope has 14.09 million, while President Yudhoyono has 5.06 million followers.
The Burston Marstellar report studied 645 government accounts in 161 countries. The researchers found that 32 countries did not have any Twitter presence. These non-tweeting countries were largely in Africa and the Asia-Pacific regions. The study, which focused on how and to what extent world leaders are using Twitter to connect to their network, found that two-thirds of all heads of state and government have personal Twitter accounts. In fact, the top eight world leaders had seen some of their thoughts being retweeted more than 24,000 times.
Focusing on the Twitter race that saw @NarendraModi overtaking @WhiteHuuse, the study suggested that the “meteoric rise” of the Indian prime minister’s presence on the social media site was indicative of the clear advantage leaders of populous countries share as they garner “a large army of dedicated followers.”
The analyzed data of Modi’s Twitter account reveals that he joined Twitter on October 1, 2009, and has essayed nearly 5,300 tweets, averaging 6.31 tweets a day. He follows 1,045 people, and 95 percent of his tweets are retweeted.
Modi, who is possibly one of the most tech-savvy politicians of recent times, has pushed his government officials and ministries to join the social media platforms so as to connect with the citizenry and for the dissemination of information.
When Modi formed his government on March 26, nearly 90 percent of his ministry was already on social networking. The prime minister made it clear that social media was set to be the medium to take their word instantly to the people. Given such belief in technology and the potential of social media, it is hardly surprising that @NarendraModi overtook @WhiteHouse in the Twitter race for followers.
By Monalisa Gangopadhyay