Cape Town - When you think about social media influencers, politicians are probably not the first people that come to mind. However, a new report that ranks Premier Alan Winde among the top 10 most-followed accounts of provincial leaders across the country begs to differ.
Research company Decode Communications has released its 2021 South African Government Leaders on Twitter report which looks into how South African government leaders use social media platforms such as Twitter.
Decode Communications founder Lorato Tshenkeng said although Twitter was not as popular as Facebook in South Africa, the former was mostly relevant in assisting with the dissemination of key government information.
Winde, who has 47600 followers on Twitter, said social media is more democratic as it allows direct interaction that would otherwise not have been possible.
“For most people social media is the only way to connect to government or public officials like myself. Few people are interested in long and wordy government documents, and not everyone has the means to call or visit us,” Winde said.
The other member of the provincial executive council who made it to the top 10 provincial leaders on Twitter is Finance MEC David Maynier, with 29000 Twitter followers.
Maynier said while he was not sure that social media always invited rational conversation, it had the potential to improve responsiveness and build public trust.
“Twitter and other social media platforms have become part of my daily routine, precisely because they provide an effective platform to communicate directly with members of the public on issues that matter to them.”
Leader of the provincial opposition Cameron Dugmore (ANC), who has 2 341 followers on Twitter, said he used it more to tap into news updates.
“I use Facebook much more to share updates about issues that I’m involved in. I enjoy being able to share more content there rather than in the limited scope provided by Twitter.”
Good party secretary-general Brett Herron said Twitter’s instantaneous style meant that news was often on the platform before it was reported by more formal media sources such as print, broadcast and digital.
“Social media also allows for unedited comments. Journalists and editors don’t get to select what part of what we say gets reported.”