Nakedi Phala takes a look at how leaders from around the globe have used social media to improve their campaigns, social injustices, the environment and people at large.
You know ‘em — and you either love ‘em or you hate ‘em. Regardless of how you feel about world leaders, everyone is always eager to see what they’ve been posting about. And let’s face it, some of their posts, beyond being influential, are just pure entertainment at its best.
Remember former United States President Donald Trump? He spent most of his time exercising his thumbs on Twitter, sharing his views and opinions — some of which didn’t really sit well with audiences. But, even though some people didn’t like what he had to say, they would still stop whatever they were doing to see what he was going to post next. And Trump isn’t the only one.
There are many world leaders out there that are socialites on social media. And whether you see them as inspirational, influential or just plain hilarious, it’s important to learn from the way in which these powerful individuals utilise their platforms.Without wasting time, here’s how world leaders use social media platforms today:
In Africa’s social media landscape, social platforms seem to be used positively by social activists and more than the officially elected leaders of other countries.
In Nigeria, for example, social activists led a protest on Twitter. The protest saw trend maps being dominated with ‘#EndSARS’, calling for the end of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad
— a unit alleged to have a reputation of police brutality towards citizens.
It is interesting to note that Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari uses his social media platform to make governmental announcements rather than express his personal sentiments.
While in countries like South Africa, the president — as well as the oppositional leaders — use social media to debate and argue openly on the platforms. Some even use it for the greater good to benefit the people.
For example, President Cyril Ramaphosa recently did a Q&A session on Twitter where he answered questions from citizens.
The opposing leaders, on the other hand, have used social media platforms to share content with a subjective narrative on social media. An example of this would be pre-recorded snippets of debates in parliament with competing party members.
North and South America
With America, the trending methods of social media usage are a bit more varied, as its state sovereignty is set over two continents but under one president.
The US President Joe Biden seems to be more formal in the content he shares. For example, he provides information that helps keep Americans updated with Covid-19 vaccines and how they can keep safe from the virus. And he seems to enjoy posting video content more than just relying on Twitter’s 140 characters.
On Instagram, Biden has a knack for sharing public relations content. For example, he has been showing citizens getting Covid-19 vaccines and images of praise from citizens.
But this is not all. Not only does this leader step in to keep his people updated on the latest global affairs, but Biden also seems to use his social media to inspire hope by sharing quotes that are motivational. This differing strategy that he uses puts the value of positive thinking (especially when it’s online) right underneath the spotlight.
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In Asia, some countries like China are a bit conservative and don't allow their citizens to use global apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
This is because of politically motivated reasons.
While in other countries such as Japan, the use of social media is much more flexible: Country leader Abe Shinzo, for example, goes to the extent of sharing even his personal diets with his followers. That’s a cool leader, isn’t it? Promoting healthy eating …
India’s leader Narendra Modi seems to be focused on sharing cultural / religious content, especially on his Instagram page. This makes political sense because the country he leads is rich in culture and religion — very much like South Africa.
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Boris Johnson in the United Kingdom uses the power of social media to build bilateral relationships with other countries. For example, Johnson shares video clips on his social media accounts to canvas the work the UK is doing to help other countries progress in education and economic affairs.
The Russian leadership seems to be firm and assertive when it comes to the content that the presidency’s social media accounts share; it’s all formal and business-related. No fluffy rabbits!
For example, his Twitter accounts share content and links that are only from their presidency’s website. No subtweets from reputable news agencies.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is more like Biden, and is likely to share content of himself via video format.
Steinmeier also has a knack for sharing historical content, which seems to work in his favour; audiences seem to resonate with past events that occurred in Germany.
Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrision is tactical when it comes to his style of engaging and using social media to his advantage. How, you ask?
He reshares relevant content that is positive and in sync with the political agenda. For example, on International Nurses Day, he retweeted a nursing college and applauded them for the great work they’ve done in helping the government and Australians.
On the other side, Morrison retweets content from his Liberal Party on a regular basis. Loyalty right there!
And, he’s a team player by seconding his party members' posts, which helps boost engagement for them. World leaders engage with audiences on social media differently from how other leaders would. What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments section below.
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