G1 Individual Project – Barack Obama, Narendra Modi, and Lee Hsien Loong

Try describing how you would run the world in 140 characters. If you can’t, check out the following Twitter profiles of Barack Obama – President of the United States, Narendra Modi – Prime Minister of India, and Lee Hsien Loong – Prime Minister of Singapore.

Research Question

  • How successful on Twitter are President Barack Obama of the United States, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore, during their election campaigns?
  • How can politicians use social media effectively to reach a bigger audience and spread their message?

Data and Analysis 

Barack Obama in the U.S. Presidential Election, 2012

The biggest challenge Obama was facing during the 2012 U.S. presidential election campaign was to win reelection and connect with new audiences. The effort spent on social media during his reelection campaign was well rewarded with the most retweeted Tweet in history. Obama’s promoted tweets during the reelection period achieved an impressive 15.78% engagement rate.

He and his team at Organizing for Action spent big bucks on promoted trends to win the Twitter space around key campaign events and on promoted tweets to reach out the new and existing voters. Obama also utilized the psychological ownership theory, letting his audience feel empowered and validated.

Narendra Modi in the India General Election, 2014

Having close to 18m followers on Twitter and nearly 32m on Facebook, Modi is the second most followed politician in the world, only after Obama.

Almost 60% of his tweets during the 2012 Gujarat (state-level) election mention the state and the dominant religion of Hinduism. On the other hand, during the 2014 general election into the Prime Minister’s Office, 55% of his tweets were about development, and only 10.5% about Hinduism. This proves his timely response to personal and national changes.

Modi does not post only about politics – he seeks to engage Indian people with relatable and familiar topics like familial bonds.

This devotion has earned him the most retweeted tweet in India. Modi had become the most talked about candidate on Twitter, among the three prime minister candidates from three parties.

Lee Hsien Loong in the Singapore General Election, 2015

Lee Hsien Loong has been at the forefront of the digital political battle; his number of Twitter followers has doubled from January to September 2015.

One material that Lee made extensive use of in his campaigning messages, is the positive spirit during the country’s 50th anniversary (SG50). Several of Lee’s and PAP’s messages indirectly attributed Singapore’s success to the PAP’s leadership. This proves his ability to stay current and relevant on social media.

However, Lee does not have paid activities like promoted posts or promoted trends – all of his reach is organic. The tweet that had the highest engagement during GE2015 was his victory tweet, with only 282 retweets and 398 likes.


The common denominator of all social media campaigns of the abovementioned leaders are an engagement-driven strategy, live and interactive events, and careful investment in sponsored contents.

Twitter posts of Obama’s, Modi’s, and Lee’s are written to be shared, as seen consistently from the tone of voice, type of content, and wording.

For businesses and organizations alike, timing is key. Social media messages must mirror real life events as they take place. This turns the social media channels into reliable sources of information.

Last but not least, smart investment in paid activities may also boost a Twitter profile’s popularity, and hence the possibility of achieving business or political goals, as seen in the case of Barack Obama.


The suggestions given in this section are solely for academic purposes within the scope of the Social Media Strategies module, and do not reflect the author’s political viewpoint or position in any way.

Suggestion 1: #HappySingaporeFamilies campaign

Promoting family togetherness and happiness. The prize for this contest could be a visit to the Office, or an exclusive goodie package.

Suggestion 2: Influencer Strategy

Allowing select celebrities and thought leaders will write about and link to Lee’s Twitter profile, providing him with valuable social media resources. 


Social media pages, particularly Twitter, must be built for engagement, contain interactive contents, and maximize the benefits for its owner with different organic and paid options.

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