Center for Conflict Studies Knowledge as Action, Action as Change

Social Media & Leadership

This Project has been completed. Final Report will be published in May 2014

In recent years, many global leaders have established a presence on social media, using Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to accomplish various goals. This project aims to study how, when, and why leaders use social media.

The specific purpose of this project is twofold. One goal is to analyze leaders’ social media usage to better understand their personalities, their style of leadership, their approaches to conflict and conflict resolution, their decision making processes, and their responses to crises and events as they unfold in real time. The project will also explore the predictive value of social media usage patterns: that is, can we predict how a leader may react to or attempt to shape global events based on their patterns of social media usage?

The second goal is to understand the effectiveness of social media in helping leaders achieve strategic objectives. How do leaders use social media to influence global public opinion, reach key groups and demographics, neutralize opponents or obstacles, and achieve other strategic aims? The project seeks to assess the factors that might lead us to characterize certain leaders as being “successful” in using social media: what are the emerging indicators of a successful social media strategy by a global leader?

The project will begin with a short trial phase during the summer of 2013, and then proceed to a pilot phase during the fall of 2013. Leaders will be grouped by cluster according to geographical region or issue area. For the purposes of the project, only Twitter, Facebook and Instagram will be monitored. The project will rely chiefly on qualitative analysis, although the pilot phase also aims to incorporate some type of quantitative network analysis.

Team Members for the trial phase were: Margaret Conant, Lauren DaSilva, Thomas Eilers, Michael Houseman, Sean Parks, Kirill Prudnikov, Eduardo Sanchez, Bryan Weiner. In this phase, the team went through the process of selecting leaders, developing coding categories, maintaining daily journals on social media behaviour and conducting research on the various political conflict issues that the leaders faced in their countries and in their region.

In the next phase, a two month pilot which began in December 2013, the team comprising of Pushpa Iyer (leader: Narendra Modi), Eduardo Sanchez (leader: Nicolas Maduro) and Bryan Weiner (leader: Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner), coded the twitter feeds of the leaders, maintained a blog which provided snippets of the leader's personality profile and lastly developed a digital story on the leader's profile. Click on the links below for more details on each leader.

Pushpa Iyer - Narendra Modi (Gujarat, India)

Eduardo Sanchez - Nicolas Maduro (Venezuela)

Bryan Weiner - Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner (Argentina)

Project Coordinators: Pushpa Iyer and Shanthi Kalathil