The spread of the coronavirus infection across the global has led to an increased demand for verified information as millions are flocking to verified handles of health organisations and national leaders on social media seeking answers, advice and support.
A study by communications agency BCW Global has revealed that in the month of March this year, the Facebook handles of global leaders registered a 3.7 per cent growth in their page likes, that is almost half of the overall follower growth of these pages in the past 12 months.
The study covered 721 Facebook pages of different world leaders and governments.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s official page as well as the pages of the governments of Austria, Estonia and Italy have more than doubled their page likes in March. Italy is one of the worst affected countries in the world due to COVID-19 and PM Conte has stepped up his efforts in interacting with fellow citizens through late evening live streams on Facebook.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who is winning praise from the international media for her role in containing the spread of virus in her country, has also actively interacted with her followers during lockdown. The leader has been conducting regular Facebook live sessions since the coronavirus lock down in New Zealand, asking viewers to check-in on their neighbours, especially the elderly. She had put the country under a strict lockdown in late March, when only about 100 people had tested positive for the new virus.
The use of social media is not only limited to direct communication between the leaders and public. Many governments and foreign ministries have updated their Facebook cover pictures to share essential information on the coronavirus. While French President Emmanuel Macron’s cover is calling his followers to “Stay Home” to “Save Lives”, the UK Foreign Office is asking people to “prepare for serious disruption”.
The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has set up a dedicated Facebook page, Twitter and Telegram accounts for detailed information about the coronavirus. The Foreign ministries of Belgium and Denmark have opened Facebook groups to connect their citizens stranded around the world.
According to the 2020 edition of World Leaders on Facebook, part of the Twiplomacy series from BCW, the governments and leaders of 184 countries – two more than in 2019 – had an official presence on Facebook, representing 95 per cent of the 193 UN member states.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is still the most popular world leader on Facebook, with more than 45 million likes on his personal page and 13.7 million likes on PMO India page, which is in fourth position. However, the PM has not interacted as actively as his counterparts on Facebook since the lockdown in the country was announced on March 24. PM Modi’s page generally posts one post per day or once in two days.
US President Donald Trump tops the ranking for the most interactions with 309 million interactions on his Facebook page over the past 12 months, which is more than three times as many interactions as PM Modi, who has far more likes.
A third of these pages with call-to-action buttons invite users to ‘Contact Us’ or to ‘Learn More’ by sending them to their respective websites. Twenty-six pages invite users to watch a promotional video on Facebook or YouTube, 26 pages suggest to ‘Sign Up’ to a newsletter, 17 pages promote a separate app and 14 pages encourage users to ‘Call Now.’
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines