Helen Zille popular on Twitter

2013-03-05 08:45
Helen Zille is one of the more popular politicians on social media. (File, AFP)

Helen Zille is one of the more popular politicians on social media. (File, AFP)

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Cape Town - Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille has built a media reputation for herself to the extent that social media users include her in tweets in the hopes of getting a quick fix to problems.

The Western Cape premier has a significant presence on Twitter with over 240 000 followers and she has delivered in excess of 18 000 short missives, or tweets.

The one-to-many platform has seen Zille being able to articulate her political platform to users and respond to queries from advice on crayfish to rugby.

The premier seems to enjoy responding to users' tweets that include her.

In response to a question on whether there will be enough sunscreen in Cape Town for the Cape Argus cycle tour, Zille said: "Stock up in Durbs."


Another user tweeted to Zille: "can you be sure you are eating crayfish?" in a reference to the ongoing meat scandal.

"Because we take it straight out of the shell not the packet!" Zille responded.

On Facebook, the DA leader's page has over 223 000 Likes, illustrating the DA's pull away from the ruling party in terms of social media.

The ANC doesn't have a large social media presence, with 15 000 Like on its Facebook page and 43 000 Twitter followers. President Jacob Zuma, though, has 205 000 followers on Twitter.

Zuma doesn't seem to generate as much engagement as Zille, and has only delivered 88 tweets.

One of the more active Twitter users in the Cabinet is Minister of Public Enterprises Malusi Gigaba who has over 27 000 followers and engages with followers in replies and discussion.

Modern politics was shaken up in 2008 and 2012 with the campaigns of US President Barack Obama. The social media campaigns were designed to create conversation on social media platforms that drove people to vote, mostly for Obama.

In SA, social media platform use by politicians is increasing as more people go online.

However, social media users should be careful about the information they post as it could lead to a legal issues, an expert warned.

"Whatever they say on a social media platform, they must be prepared and able to say with a megaphone to a crowd because that is essentially what you're doing," social media consultant for Afrosocialmedia Samantha Fleming told News24.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter
Read more on:    helen zille  |  barack obama  |  malusi gigaba  |  social media

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