Burson-Marsteller Study Finds 87 Heads of State, 70 Heads of Government and 55 Foreign Ministers Have Personal Pages on the World’s Largest Social Media Platform

NEW YORK, February 21, 2017 – Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the most followed world leader on Facebook with 40 million followers on his personal page, and U.S. President Donald J. Trump is in second place with 20 million followers on his personal page, according to the newly released 2017 “World Leaders on Facebook” study by leading strategic communications and global public relations firm Burson-Marsteller.

As of February 1, 2017, the institutional page of the Indian Premier, PMO India, is in third place with 13 million followers, ahead of Queen Rania of Jordan, in fourth place with 10 million. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan rounds out the top five with 8 million followers.

The study also analyzes the activity of 590 Facebook pages of heads of state and government and foreign ministers throughout 2016 using aggregate data from Facebook’s Crowdtangle tool.

Modi also had the most interactions (likes, comments and shares) of any world leader on Facebook in 2016. With 169 million interactions, Modi’s activity far outpaces the second-placed world leader, Cambodia’s Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen, who had 58 million interactions. The now archived @ObamaWhiteHouse page is in third place with 36 million interactions, followed by Argentine President Mauricio Macri with just under 36 million. The personal page of Barack Obama completes the top five list, with 30 million interactions for 2016. Interestingly, Obama, who was until recently the most followed world leader on Facebook with 52 million followers, has one of the lowest interaction rates at only 0.15 percent. By contrast, Albanian President Bujar Nishani leads in this measure with a 10.79 percent interaction rate.

Almost 90 percent of all national governments have an official Facebook presence. In addition, 87 heads of state, 70 heads of government and 55 foreign ministers maintain personal pages on the platform, according to the study. Based on the data collected in February 2017, the World Leaders on Facebook study found that 169 of the 193 UN member states maintain an official Facebook page, which has not changed since 2015.

“Burson-Marsteller’s second installment of the World Leaders on Facebook study demonstrates the effectiveness of political communications on the platform,” said Don Baer, Worldwide Chair and CEO, Burson-Marsteller. “It will be interesting see if business leaders take lessons from the ways world leaders use Facebook, such as bringing a personal tone to their communications.”

Donald Trump Brings 20 Million Followers to the White House
When he came to power on January 20, 2017, U.S. President Donald J. Trump brought with him a Facebook page with nearly 20 million followers, by far the most of any newly installed world leader and a number which grew 400 percent during the course of 2016. He had 290 million interactions on his Facebook posts last year, including 33 million shares and 30 million comments.

Today, Facebook has become one of the key platforms for world leaders and governments to engage with voters, constituents and other important audiences. As of February 1, 2017, all of the world leaders combined had a total of 311,093,076 followers. In 2016, they published a total of 398,982 posts, prompting 772,441,676 interactions.

The findings revealed that, while more than half of the posts have photos, posts with videos attracted by far the most interactions: 4,847 on average, compared to 2,935 for photo posts. The 47,739 Facebook videos posted on world leaders’ pages in 2016 have been viewed 2.5 billion times.

“In 2016 we saw just how influential social media can be in political developments across the globe,’’ said Jeremy Galbraith, CEO of Burson-Marsteller Europe, Middle East & Africa and Global Chief Strategy Officer. “As the world’s largest social media platform, Facebook has considerable power and influence, something that world leaders know all too well.”

The Government of Ethiopia’s Facebook page is the busiest with an average of 29 posts per day in 2016, adding up to over 10,000 posts in the year. The Government of Botswana averages 28 posts per day and the Government of Honduras has 23 posts per day.

Other key findings include:

  • The most visited institution is The White House, with 4 million check-ins, followed by the Ugandan State House with 35,000 and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Thailand with 35,000.
  • The White House is the page most followed by peers, with 26 peer connections. It is followed by the European Commission with 20 peer connections and the Council of the European Union with 19.
  • Other pages followed by world leaders include the United Nations (liked by 39), the European Parliament (liked by 25) and NATO (liked by 19).
  • The governments, institutions and heads of state of 24 United Nations countries are not present on Facebook, one fewer than in last year’s study.
  • UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and the UK Foreign Office are the only two official government pages that follow the new POTUS page of Donald Trump. The Russian Foreign Ministry is the only official government page to have followed Trump’s page.

 About the Study
World Leaders on Facebook is Burson-Marsteller’s latest research into how world leaders, governments and international organizations communicate via social media. The research builds on Burson-Marsteller’s highly acclaimed annual Twiplomacy study, which is now in its fifth year. In 2016, the Twiplomacy study was expanded to cover all key social media platforms and has massively enhanced Burson-Marsteller’s digital reputation worldwide

About Burson-Marsteller
Burson-Marsteller, established in 1953, is a leading global strategic communications and public relations firm. It provides clients with strategic thinking and program execution across a full range of public relations, public affairs, reputation and crisis management, advertising and digital strategies. The firm’s seamless worldwide network consists of 73 offices and 85 affiliate offices, together operating in 110 countries across six continents. Burson-Marsteller is a part of Young & Rubicam Group, a subsidiary of WPP (NASDAQ: WPPGY), the world’s leader in communications services. For more information, please visit www.burson-marsteller.com