South African politicians are increasingly turning to social media to do campaigning ahead of general elections in May. But the most active ones are not necessarily the most popular. TheMediaOnline reports.
Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille has made plenty of news headlines for her activities on Twitter. One would be forgiven for believing that she probably boasts the most followers amongst local politicians on the social networking site.
But research by media monitoring company Apurimac Media, conducted this month, came back with some surprising results. The most popular local politician on Twitter is not Zille, and neither is it President Jacob Zuma.
That honour belongs to the controversial Julius Malema.
Malema has overtaken Zille in terms of Twitter followers. His official Twitter handle @Julius_S_Malema – although not yet verified by Twitter as him, but widely believed to be the real thing – enjoys more than 425 755 followers, compared to Zille’s just over 390,800 followers. This while Zille tweeted 43 times between 8 March and 14 March, compared to Malema’s 13 tweets in the same period.
Zuma has almost 315 000 followers but did not tweet at all in that week, while Agang leader Mamphela Ramphele enjoys just over 40 000 followers, with nine tweets between 8 March and 14 March.
Political parties have a different kind of presence on the social networks compared to their individual leaders. Here, the African National Congress is king on Twitter, with more than 105 000 followers, followed by the DA (more than 67 000), Agang (more than 42 000), and then the EFF (just over 38 000). The Freedom Front Plus has some 4 000 followers. But the Congress of the People has not even hit the 1000-mark yet in terms of followers on Twitter. Coming in last is the Inkatha Freedom Party with just under 275 Twitter followers.
The DA, however, has more Facebook friends than the ANC (more than 70 000 compared to just under 60 000), with the EFF standing at just under 65 000 Facebook friends, followed by Agang on just under 3 ,000, and the Freedom Front Plus with about 15 000. Cope has some 2 400 Facebook friends while the IFP has had to settle on around 640 Facebook friends.
The DA was also the most talked about political party in Facebook in that week. More than 66 600 Facebook users were discussing the party, compared to some 12 000 talking about the ANC, about 4 000 talking about the EFF and 235 Facebook users discussing Cope.
Almost 1300 Facebook users discussed Agang and more than 1900 talked about the FF Plus.
And the IFP? A total of nine people were talking about the once formidable Zulu party on Facebook last week.
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