Global Leaders Take on Social Media
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Can you think back to the days when the President of the United States didn’t go on a Twitter rant just about everyday? While it’s nice to think back to the days when the leader of the free world didn’t share all his thoughts and feelings, it’s important not to dwell in the past. While our President may be a bit unconventional, it has become increasingly important for global leaders to be active on social media.
That may come as a surprise to some, but for my generation, it is not because we grew up on social media. We have come to expect information quickly and to get it directly from the source. Because of this, President Trump’s Twitter may have played a huge role in getting him into the Oval Office because he was giving people information directly from himself. He is plugged into the social media world and that has separated him from any president we have ever had. (I’ll go more into this later on in the blog.)
Now, what you may (or may not) be surprised to learn is that Trump is not the global leader who is extremely active and outspoken on social media. I myself was surprised to see how many leaders around the world are using social media to get their messages out and to communicate with their people directly. Let’s take a look at a few that you may not know about and how they effectively use social media.
Alright, can we just talk about how cool Pope Francis is?! Yes, he is a religious leader and I am sure he is doing a great job on that front, but he has also become somewhat of a pop culture icon. He is known as a more progressive Pope, taking lightened stances on issues like homosexuality and birth control. Rolling Stone and Time have featured him on their covers and he is cool enough to stop to take selfies with people. He is a Pope for the people, which means he has to be on social media. With only 1,250 tweets, Pope Francis has 11.4 million followers on Twitter. Sure, he doesn’t reply to his followers or like any tweets, but he is tweeting out religious messages just about every day and each tweet gets thousands of retweets.
Migrants are our brothers and sisters in search of a better life, far away from poverty, hunger, and war.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) July 8, 2017
Just the fact that he has a Twitter account is the main thing. People can relate to him more easily and he has brought more attention to the Catholic religion despite the fact that people are quickly removing themselves from any kind of religious affiliation. (Also can we appreciate that the sign on his apartment door says something to the degree that people who violated the “no whining” policy are subject to “a syndrome of always feeling like a victim and the consequent reduction of your sense of humor and capacity to solve problems.” I mean, I need that sign in my apartment, in English of course. )
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) July 14, 2017
President Paul Kagame (and other Rwandan Leaders)
Kagame is the President of Rwanda and he his fairly active on social media. Rwanda’s government is pretty active on social media, specifically on Twitter. There was a study done this year called the Twiplomacy Study of 2017 that “refers to the use of Twitter and other social media sites by government agencies and officials to engage with the public, disperse information and even leverage global influence.” The study says that 79 percent of Kagame’s tweets are replies to other Twitter users, making him the most conversational world leader. He replies to his people, his critics, and even his children. When it comes to his critics, he can be a bit of a savage, for lack of a better word. Just look at this interaction with a critic of his.
@levikones worry more about your own legacy …if you got any at all to think about!!
— Paul Kagame (@PaulKagame) August 10, 2015
He even sent a congratulatory tweet to the Golden State Warriors last year when they made it to the NBA Finals.
Congrats. Golden State Warriors !!! Will be rooting for you all the way V Cleveland.
— Paul Kagame (@PaulKagame) May 31, 2016
He is good at communicating his messages to people and also tries to show his interest in what is happening in other countries like the US.
Another Rwandan leader to mention is Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi. He holds Twitter chats with the hashtag #TalkToPMRwanda where he replies to people questions and concerns.
Construction works for this road will start not later than July 2016. #TalkToPMRwanda
— Murekezi Anastase (@amurekezi) May 27, 2016
Foreign Minister of Rwanda, Lousie Mushikiwabo is another leader who directly replies to those with questions concerning the country.
Agree! The key word is "control" . However, am convinced we need each other, therefore we must talk! https://t.co/NJ6jJ7NaLU
— Louise Mushikiwabo (@LMushikiwabo) July 16, 2017
These interactions help bring the leaders down to earth, making them more approachable and show that they are willing to listen to the people and what they have to say. That is something people today value.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi
President Trump said that he and Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi are “world leaders in social media,” and I would have to agree. Modi has 31.7 million followers on Twitter and has 42.5 million likes on Facebook. What Modi does so well is he communicates with other global leaders. He follows a lot of leaders from other countries and many of his tweets are talking about him visiting with other leaders.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 18, 2017
An article by The Atlantic back in 2012 talked about how important it is for leaders to follow others on social media. Author Matthias Lufkens said that world leaders should follow each other on Twitter if their countries have good diplomatic relations. “Not following someone back on Twitter is tantamount to a diplomatic snub, and blocking someone on Twitter will soon be synonymous with severing diplomatic ties,” Lufkens said. Modi has done a great job of nurturing his diplomatic relationships on social media.
President Donald Trump
Like I mentioned earlier, as much as people want to bash Trump for his wild tweets, he is smart to use social media as much as he does. Sure, he abuses his platform quite a bit by sending out hateful tweets to people he disagrees with, but he has used Twitter as a platform to get his messages out. So far, it has been a fairly beneficial thing for him. I mean, he did get elected as the President of the United States, despite what the polls were saying. His tweets are usually the topic of most news stories today and have been since he announced his candidacy for president.
For those few people knocking me for tweeting at three o'clock in the morning, at least you know I will be there, awake, to answer the call!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 30, 2016
The thing that is so big with Trump’s twitter is that his tweets are coming directly from him, not someone in his office. During the 2016, that stood out to people because most of Hillary Clinton’s tweets were clearly coming from her social media staff. Vincent Raynauld, an assistant professor in communication studies at Emerson College in Boston said that his simple, unfiltered language in his tweets matched his campaign branding. “When you read a tweet by Donald Trump you can almost hear Donald Trump’s voice…,” Raynauld said. “You have a sense that every single tweet comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth to some extent and this has a very persuasive value to the public.” Trump’s tweets may be unfiltered (and you should check out one of our latest blogs with our Trump-o-graphic about his tweeting habits since being elected), but they get the public’s attention. He is able to get his message out to the people faster than any American president has been able to and he never tries to be someone he isn’t. He may go a little far at time, but he is always authentic and people appreciate that. (And not all his tweets are negative or crazy, like this one…)
Peaceful protests are a hallmark of our democracy. Even if I don't always agree, I recognize the rights of people to express their views.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 22, 2017
Social media has it’s downfalls, of course. What doesn’t? For some it may seem like a risky move to take politics onto platforms like Twitter, but for these leaders and many others who have used similar tactics, social media has made them more approachable and better-informed leaders. The more informed our leaders are, the more informed we are.
As a quick plug, NUVI has some great features that leaders could use to their advantage. With NUVI, leaders could monitor what other global leaders have said to them or about them, what others are saying to/about them, and whether comments, posts, or tweets are positive or negative. If you think that could help you, request a demo and start meeting your full social media potential.