HOW do our world leaders fare when it comes to online influence? Hayden Waugh delves into the Twittersphere and investigates the accounts of Barack Obama, Najib Razak, Julia Gillard and more.
Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?
These days, it’s not just the celebrities who have fake followers on Twitter, if the figures that show up on the online application Fake Follower Check are true.
In our comparison of eight political leaders from the US, Australia, Malaysia, India, Thailand, Japan, Singapore and Vietnam, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak topped the list for having the largest proportion of fake followers.
A recent check using Fake Follower Check showed a whopping 70 per cent of Prime Minister Najib’s 1.41 million followers were fake.
He was followed by Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at 55 per cent and 54 per cent respectively.
Comic: CW Vong
Just under half of US President Barack Obama’s 13.1 million followers were found to be fake, and for Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, 36 per cent of her 130,680 followers were fake.
Those who have done well include Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, with 62 per cent of his more than 25,000 following made up of engaged or “good” followers, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe whose engaged followers numbered at 58 per cent of 81,200.
These figures show that perhaps numbers tell only part of the story when it comes to determining popularity and influence.
Thomas Tudehope, social media expert from social@Ogilvy and former advisor to Australian Shadow Minister for Communications and Broadband Malcolm Turnbull, says Twitter users can easily purchase followers starting from 100 and upwards to 10,000 followers at varying prices.
But he believes politicians or their representatives, would rarely make the decision to purchase the followers themselves.
No. of Fake Followers
No. of Inactive Followers
No. of Good Followers
Barack Obama (AMERICA)
approx. 13.1 million
approx. 8.6 million
approx. 7.3 million
Najib Razak (MALAYSIA)
Manmohan Singh (INDIA)
Julia Gillard (AUSTRALIA)
Yingluck Shinawatra (THAILAND)
Shinzo Abe (JAPAN)
Lee Hsien Loong (SINGAPORE)
Nguyen Tan Dung (VIETNAM)
“Someone might have deliberately purchased followers for them… politicians have a busy schedule so I don’t think they’ve got time to keep track of fake accounts,” Mr Tudehope says.
But regardless of who has done the purchasing or how many have been purchased, the most accurate measure of influence still boils down to engagement.
“It’s all about the conversations they’re being involved in and how many responses they receive,” Mr Tudehope says.
“I think the trick is to put out more content, more often, to all kinds of different people.
“It’s a simple strategy and one that I think works quite well.”