Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Latin American Presidents & Twitter

El Universal reports that Henrique Capriles has more Twitter followers (3.3 million) than any Latin American president, and three times more than Nicolás Maduro (1.1 million). Cristina Kirchner is the most followed president (2 million).

What the article doesn't mention is that Hugo Chávez has 4.2 million followers and Venezuelan leaders routinely add his @chavezcandanga to their tweets (though, thankfully, they do not claim that he tweets from the beyond).

There are a number of potentially interesting questions to raise about social media in this context. At a glance, it would appear that Maduro's failure to get all the chavista votes mirrors the fact that many Chávez followers haven't bothered adding him. This despite the fact that Maduro tweets far more than Chávez ever did. And why is it that Capriles is so much higher?

But all this also should make us ask why some presidents do not bother at all. Mauricio Funes set up an account in 2010 and then let it die. Meanwhile, I can't find one at all for Evo Morales, except for various fake ones. Same with Daniel Ortega. Why does they obviously view it as useless while others do not? In part it could be how poor a country is, which corresponds to the number of people you can even reach, but Chávez had a huge poor constituency (same with Rafael Correa).

And we should also ask why some presidents get no followers. Otto Pérez Molina is quite controversial, reasonably well-known, and tweets frequently, but has a grand total of 82,488 followers. He has fewer than Laura Chinchilla. Size of population is one factor, but somehow we would also need to measure how well known they are beyond their country.


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