Johannesburg - EFF leader Julius Malema has more Twitter followers than official opposition leader Helen Zille, a study by Apurimac Media has found.
Chief executive Will Green said on Tuesday that social media offered politicians an insight into how their political campaigns were received by online audiences ahead of the May 7 general elections.
“With 2014 being South Africa's 'first digital' election, it is interesting to see how [parties] and party leaders stack up against each other,” he said.
“Politicians can learn a lot from digital media as to how all their electioneering efforts are resonating with the public that is online.”
Out of all party leaders, the Economic Freedom Fighters head Malema had the most Twitter followers, at 426 755, followed by the Democratic Alliance's Zille, at 391,811.
African National Congress president Jacob Zuma had 314 149 Twitter followers, while Agang SA leader Mamphela Ramphele had 40 066.
Between March 8 and 14, Zille gained just over 3000 new Twitter followers, while Malema gained 3000, and Zuma 1000.
There were a number of Twitter accounts for Malema, including official, news and parody accounts.
In that week, Zuma did not tweet, Malema posted 13 tweets, Ramphele tweeted nine times, and Zille tweeted 43 times.
The study also found Zille had an “engaged” Facebook audience, with 6463 users “talking” about the comments she posted, compared to Malema's 142, and Ramphele's two. No one was talking about Zuma on Facebook during the week of the study.
In terms of Facebook “likes”, Malema led the pack with 79 700, Zuma had 38 776, Ramphele had 2496, but Zille had none, as she did not have a dedicated Facebook topic page.
By political party, the study found that the DA had the most Facebook friends, at 71,377, the EFF had 64,477 and the ANC had 58,176.