How Justin Trudeau has established his presence on social media, particularly Twitter, as an international leader.

By Alicja Gados

Trudeau used social media, especially Twitter, during his election campaign and it didn’t end once the election was over. Over the last year, Trudeau has sent out hundreds of video and photo updates. He’s not shy to use social media and has sent out over 3 times as many tweets as former Prime Minister Stephen Harper. You can see what he’s up to day to day and feel like you can connect with him and even ask him questions.

Why is it important for politicians to understand social media?

A year into being prime minister, Justin has embraced social media and crafted a strong online presence.

Social media is a great way for politicians to connect and communicate with voters in a fresh and more relatable way. They can target important topics through social media and reach whole new audiences.

Trudeau really has shown a strong presence on Twitter in particular.  He already has 2.6 million followers, and 1.2 million of those were gained after he was sworn in as prime minister (source: CTV news).  He’s actually number three in the world for followers in terms of world leaders, with US president Barack Obama and president of India Narendra Modi in first and second place respectively. He also is one of the few heads of state with over 2 million followers.

Image from the Twitter Canada account. @TwitterCanada

Image from the Twitter Canada account. @TwitterCanada

Why has he been so successful?

Trudeau and his communications team clearly have a great understanding of how social media works and how they can use it to their advantage and they have used those skills to grow a fantastic followership. His posts are social media friendly, sharable and tech savvy.  He speaks our language and connects with both young and old Canadians on their level, which is exactly what social media is all about.

Trudeau knows the language of social media, knows how to use emojis and icons, and knows how to use photos and videos properly. He doesn’t just use it to promote himself, he regularly uses it to show his personal side: for example, check out this one of his family trick or treating.

Image from Trudeaus Twitter account @JustinTrudeau.

Image from Trudeaus Twitter account @JustinTrudeau.

The use of family images really resonates with people. He feels relatable and approachable. More Canadians feel connected to him and feel listened to and that he cares about them.  He promotes conversation and two-way dialogue with people who comment or want to get in touch with him. The feeling that he is not untouchable, but “only a tweet away” is exciting. It’s exciting to feel so closely and personally connected to the Prime Minister. 

Trudeau wins trust and popularity with Twitter with consistent messaging that is quick and to the point.  His and his social media teams' knowledge about what is popular on twitter and social media, prompts shares and retweets. 

What makes his Twitter strategy a success?

It’s no accident that his social media strategy for Twitter is a success.  It’s no different from promoting a brand and any organization can follow the strategy Trudeau and his team uses. Here are the main reasons why his campaign and image are so popular and successful.

1. Concise and to the point

His use of video has been particularly successful and his contributions really stand out against those of the other candidates in the election. His short videos of up to 30 seconds deliver punchy insights into his campaigns and views. The videos are the perfect length to keep people interested and encourage sharing and engagement.

2. Personal, fun and relatable

Trudeau routinely posts tweets and photos of his family which makes him seem very relatable. His image as a caring husband, father and son is an emotional connection that resonates within his voters.

3. Connection to causes

He made his audience feel like they were a part of something.  His use of cause-related hashtags such as #RealChange promoted unity and was a great compliment to his other more political posts.

Trudeau promotes causes on his Twitter account. Image from Twitter at @JustinTrudeau.

Trudeau promotes causes on his Twitter account. Image from Twitter at @JustinTrudeau.

4. Conversations

He wasn't just posting, he was listening too.  His team was quick to respond to questions and comments posted by people, showing that they were listening and willing to engage. This marked a departure from other candidates who used social media primarily to brand and market themselves instead of to engage in active conversations with constituents.

Trudeau shows he listens to Canadians. Image from Twitter at @JustinTrudeau.

Trudeau shows he listens to Canadians. Image from Twitter at @JustinTrudeau.

5. Humour

Trudeau has a good sense of humour – all Canadians know that! His sense of humour and ability not to take himself too seriously (like making fun of his own hair in tweets!) makes people feel like he’s just one of us and not an untouchable, stoic political figure.

Justin even uses  Snapchat . Image from Twitter at @JustinTrudeau.

Justin even uses Snapchat. Image from Twitter at @JustinTrudeau.

Trudeau's strategy makes him look human and has encouraged great conversations on Twitter. People even use emoji icons when talking about him. Here are the most popular ones used used when tweeting about or mentioning the prime minister.

Image from the Twitter Canada account @TwitterCanada.

Image from the Twitter Canada account @TwitterCanada.

What was remarkable about his social media campaign is that not only that it was about voting for him and the Liberal party, it promoted voting in general. This may have attributed to this year's election having highest voter turnout since 1993 which is an incredibly positive outcome.

Read more about branding and social media strategy here.

Sources and Further Reading

CTV News

Huffington Post