Covid-19: Leo Varadkar's Instagram following triples since virus outbreak

Covid-19: Leo Varadkar's Instagram following triples since virus outbreak

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, Health Minister Simon Harris and Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan, have all seen huge increases in their social media following in recent weeks.

New figures supplied by Mulley Communications show that Facebook has started to increase its user numbers once again, with 100,000 more people using the site since September 2019.

Prior to this, Facebook had lost 300,000 users between January and September 2019.

The growth is almost entirely in the 40+ demographic, though, with younger users opting for Instagram and Twitter instead.

The number of people following the Taoiseach has sky-rocketed. This is particularly clear on Instagram, where his followers have almost tripled from 24,000 to 82,400.

Mr Varadkar's social media following was stagnant since the general election at the start of February but in the last four weeks he has picked up an extra 60,000 followers on Twitter, where he now has a total of 312,000, while his Facebook page has also grown by 20,000 followers to 62,000.

This includes a growth of 3,400 in the last five days alone.

Simon Harris, meanwhile, has seen enormous growth, with his Twitter followers increasing from 66,400 at the start of March to 128,100 in April.

He has also picked up some 2,000 new Facebook followers in the last five days.

The coronavirus has driven increases across the board: Micheál Martin has 5,000 new Twitter followers and Mary Lou McDonald is increasing her count by 5%-10% per week.

Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan had some 2,700 Twitter followers at the start of March. He now has 73,632.

The Department of Health has 40,000 more followers now than in March, while the HSE has increased by 64,100 and Paul Reid, CEO of the HSE, now has more than 30,000, up from 5,000 in March.

Crucially, the growth is organic: these new followers appear to be real people and not bots, according to Damien Mulley from Mulley Communications.

Mr Mulley said the trends indicate the importance of personalities in the crisis:

Leo Varadkar, Simon Harris and Dr Tony Holohan are the very public faces of the current pandemic in Ireland and they are being seen as factual and calming voices during this.

"People are going to follow them directly to get information, the real surprise is the increase in Leo Varadkar’s following on Instagram where it has more than tripled, perhaps showing the under 35 demographic (the majority on Instagram) are now interested in hearing from Leo."

More on this topic

ESRI: Indirect tax revenues to tumble because of CovidESRI: Indirect tax revenues to tumble because of Covid

Hair salons and barber shops hopeful of earlier openingHair salons and barber shops hopeful of earlier opening

Easing the economic burden of Covid-19Easing the economic burden of Covid-19

The unanswered questions about Dominic Cummings’ lockdown travelsThe unanswered questions about Dominic Cummings’ lockdown travels