Narendra Modi is one of the world’s most tech-savvy leaders.
The head of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is notorious for avoiding interactions with the press, but he has maintained an unprecedented connection to citizens via social media.
Modi is not only on the mainstream sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. He also has a presence on discovery network Stumbleupon, China’s Twitter-esque Weibo, professional networking site LinkedIn, visual social network Pinterest, blogging site Tumblr, photo-sharing site Flickr and vernacular-language social network ShareChat. In the 1.3 billion-strong country, he cast his digital net as wide as possible in order to reach all demographics.
Although some of the platforms became redundant—he last posted on blogging platform Tumblr over three years ago—he’s been a hit on most of the platforms, especially the most popular ones.
On Mar. 2, though, he posted across his social media profiles that he was thinking of shutting them all down come Sunday (Mar. 8). Why, or for how long, are questions that still remain unanswered. Some social media users are speculating the move is in solidarity with students studying for exams, or a setup to move to a new Indian social media platform. One theory even suggests that it may just be a gimmick for Women’s Day.
If he does quit, though, he stands to lose the best medium by which citizens can directly connect with him.
Modi has the third-highest number of followers of any politician on Twitter, after former US president Barack Obama and his successor Donald Trump.
India’s newly reelected prime minister has really milked the platform over the years. He follows some 2,000-odd everyday citizens who amplify his reach by replying to, liking, retweeting, and sharing his posts.
Since joining the platform on Jan. 10, 2019, Modi has been slowly amassing followers. As of publication, he had just over 53 million.
His tweets get an average of 1,584 retweets and 8,019 likes, according to social media statistics trackers Social Blade.
If he does not quit the platform, he’s on track to add 23 million more people to his audience over the next five years.
Modi’s supporters also use the platform to rally behind the leader. Ahead of last year’s elections, the BJP, Modi and their fan pages spent a whopping Rs7.8 crore ($1.08 million) on 18,454 Facebook advertisements posted between February 21, 2019 and April 27, 2019.
Its digital campaigns were far-reaching and, it seems, effective. According to searches Quartz ran on Facebook’s ad library, his name turned up the far more frequently in fan pages compared to other Indian politicians in April last year.
Modi’s Instagram following was for a while far less impressive, which makes since since he joined the platform in November 2014, well after he joined Twitter and Facebook.
Over time, though, his presence has grown. By now, he has acquired more than 35 million followers. Though this is fewer than cricketer Virat Kohli and actor Priyanka Chopra—the most followed Indians on Instagram with over 50 million followers each—he is the most followed politician on the platform.
Since it began in October 2007, Modi’s YouTube channel has garnered a total of 4.5 million subscribers. He has clocked upwards of 536 million total views on more than 12,000 uploads.
Between January 2019 and February 2020, the channel has added between 50,000 and 350,000 subscribers each month. During the same time, monthly views have also been climbing. Both have seen peaks around election season in May and on Independence Day in August.
Modi’s presence on Youtube extends beyond his own account onto BJP’s channel with 2.6 million subscribers, the account for prime minister office (PMO India) with 718,000 subscribers, as well as the Yoga With Modi channel that has just over 14,300 subscribers.
His most popular video on his own channel is “PM Modi in conversation with Akshay Kumar,” which has been viewed more than 16.6 million times. Viewers criticized it as “paid promotion”, a publicity stunt intended to show many Modi in a positive light. Modi nor his party ever responded to the critique; the video is still up.
Love him or hate him, if you’re on social media, you can’t ignore Modi.