Social Media

Obama named most popular politician on Facebook as world leaders flock to the platform


By Rebecca Stewart | Trends Editor

January 19, 2016 | 4 min read

Almost 90 per cent of world leaders use Facebook to connect with their citizens, according to a new study which has named Barack Obama as the most popular politician on the social network.

The World Leaders on Facebook study by Burson Marsteller indicates that 87 per cent of the UN member countries have a Facebook profile of some sort, while 87 heads of state and 82 heads of government maintain personal pages on the site.

With over 46m likes his page, Obama was found to be the most popular world leader on Facebook. The US president’s page was set up in late 2007 ahead of the election but has since been used to promote his Obamacare Affordable Healthcare Act and share pictures of his family life.

The second most popular world leader on the platform was Indian prime minister Narendra Modi with 31m likes. Despite coming second in the popularity stakes, the research discovered that Modi had the most interactive fans having clocked up more than 200m engagements with his community in 2015.

British prime minister David Cameron’s performance was poor compared to that of his peers, with 944,741 likes he has yet to cross the million follower mark.

Jeremy Galbraith, chief executive of Burson-Marsteller Europe, Middle East and Africa, and global chief strategy officer said the study illustrates that governments are “becoming savvier and more professional in the use of social media.”

"It is also very refreshing to see that successful politicians on Facebook behave just like any other Facebook user, sharing pictures of their home life, holidays and their children," he added.

However, even though more politicians and governments are using the platform to drive ‘brand awareness’, it remains to be seen what bearing popularity on Facebook has upon future political success.

In fact, the study noted that personal posts were better received among users than political ones. In 2015, the best received post from a government page was a family photo of the Obamas wishing their fans a happy Easter. Published from the White House account, the image has racked up over 2.9m likes, comments and shares to date.

Despite being in his final term, Obama has been pushing hard on the social front. He took part in a YouTube Q&A with notable volggers following his State of the Union address last week, while just days before the White House launched its own Snapchat channel offering exclusive content featuring the president.

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