Giulia Petroni is a journalism student at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.
President Mauricio Macri is the most followed Latin American leader on Instagram with 880,000 followers, ahead of Mexico's former president Enrique Peña Nieto and Paraguay’s President Mario Abdo Benítez, who each boast more than half a million followers, a newly released study has revealed.
The regional leaders however trail other heads of state significantly, however. Among the top three most followed leaders across the world, there are Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi with 14.8 million followers, closely followed by Indonesian President Joko Widodo, with 12.2 million followers, and US President Donald Trump with 10 million followers.
Pope Francis is in fourth position with 5.7 million followers, just ahead of Queen Rania of Jordan, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the official White House account, each with more than four million followers. The UK Royal Family counts around 570,000 followers, in large part thanks to the pictures of the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, which tripled the account’s numbers.
Published by leading global communications agency Burson Cohn & Wolfe (BCW), the 2018 World Leaders on Instagram report analyzes the activity of the 426 Instagram accounts of heads of state and government and foreign ministers, 100 more than in the 2017 study, using aggregate data from Facebook’s CrowdTangle tool.
As of October 1, 2018, the accounts have a combined total of 98.3 million followers and published 98,372 posts in the past 12 months which have garnered a total of 860.4 million interactions (comments and shares).
US President Donald Trump leads the rankings in terms of total interactions (comments and likes). Over the past 12 months, @realDonaldTrump has garnered more than 218 million interactions, more than three times as many as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has more followers but only 69 million interactions on his 80 photos and videos over the past year.
Crunching the number of interactions (comments and likes) per post, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the most effective world leader on Instagram, with each of his 80 posts receiving, on average, 873,302 interactions. Turkey’s President Erdoğan is in second position with 413,934 interactions and Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo’s Instagram posts receive an average of 411,673 interactions per post.
“This third installment of the BCW study shows Instagram has become the social media network where world leaders garner the most interactions,” said Chad Latz, Chief Innovation Officer, BCW.
“What is astounding is that the average size of world leaders’ Instagram accounts is less than half the size of their Facebook pages – with five times fewer posts over the past 12 months. However, all Instagram accounts together total 860 million interactions, which is 162 million (23 percent) more than the total interactions on Facebook over the same period.”
The report also highlighted how President Macri and his Chilean counterpart, President Sebastian Piñera were expanding their use of Instagram 'stories,' short-term posts which disappear from the network after 24 hours.
The duo "each have a dedicated social media reporter following them every day from morning to evening, posting countless pictures and videos of their meetings as they unfold," the report's authors wrote, adding that "a typical Instagram story [from] Mauricio Macri counts on average 30 and more elements."
The report also highlights how Macri became "first world leader to organise a live Q&A session on his Instagram channel."
The World Leaders on Instagram study also found that 156 of the 193 United Nations member states maintain an official Instagram account, 16 more than in the 2017 study. Ninety-two heads of state, 48 heads of government and 36 foreign ministers maintain personal pages on the platform, which tend to get better engagement than institutional accounts.
Instagram is not the most obvious social network to make sweeping policy statements, however Instagram Stories have become a secondary channel for digital diplomacy, where word leaders meet, greet and tag each other.
- Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo is Sub-Saharan Africa’s most followed leader on Instagram with 431 million followers, ahead of Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari with more than 160,000 followers each.
- Jordan’s Queen Rania is the most followed Arab leader with more than 4.8 million followers, surpassing Sheikh Mohammed, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates, with more than 3.3 million followers.
- The British Royal Family tops the Instagram ranking in the European Union with 3.5 million followers, far ahead of French President Emmanuel Macron, with 1.1 million followers, and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel with 684,000 followers.