The most Instagram-famous world leader isn’t who you think

donald trump twitter gage skidmore

When considering world leaders on social media, it’s usually Twitter or Facebook that first comes to mind. US President Donald Trump has made waves with his sweeping tweets about foreign policy, and New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English caused an uproar when he put spaghetti and pineapple on his pizza.

But over the past five years, world leaders have increasingly decided that Instagram is as worthy a contender for politics as any other platform. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

A recent study by Burson-Marsteller looked at the way politicians around the world communicate via the photo- and video-sharing platform, and the results aren’t as predictable as you might expect.

Before Trump was inaugurated, the most followed world leader on Instagram was Barack Obama with 13.9-million followers. He even snagged the most liked photo posted by a world leader in the past twelve months.

Have a #blessed Halloween.

A post shared by Barack Obama (@barackobama) on

But once Obama stepped down, he made room for India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take top position. And behind him are Trump with 6.3-million followers, and Pope Francis with 3.7-million.

m followed

Modi, who is the leader of the second most populous country in the world, has 6.9-million followers on Instagram, and is also the most effective. While in numbers, Modi’s account places fifth for interaction, it has the highest interaction rate. This rate is determined by the total number of interactions divided by number of posts and followers.

According to Burson-Marsteller, world leaders have posted a total of 61 281 photos and videos, and the most of them are of large groups of people.

“The clear majority are pictures of large gatherings such as election rallies, conferences, government meetings and bilateral meetings with their foreign counterparts,” the study reads.

Interacting with #BJP Karyakartas in #Varanasi during my visit yesterday.

A post shared by Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) on

Interesting, too, is that the majority of the most active accounts are not on the most followed list. The government of Brunei, a small Asian country with a population around 420 000, tops the list with with 16 posts a day. President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo placed third with just under five posts a day, and Donald Trump just made the list, with just under three posts a day.

India’s PM Modi has 6.9-million followers on Instagram and is also the most effective

Burson-Marsteller also points out accounts that go against the norm — either because the leader themself manages the account, or because of the unusual content it posts. It recommends German Prime Minister Angela Merkel’s Obama-esque account, as well as Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen’s who “clearly manages the account himself.”

Føler mig lidt som Buster (#Dagwood) i Blondie. Alt er lidt større her i USA… 🇺🇸 #blondiecartoon #Ferie #Lancaster

A post shared by Lars Løkke Rasmussen (@larsloekke) on

What a time to be alive.

Featured image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr (CC 2.0, resized)



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