Wartime statesman in the social media age

wartime statesman in the social media age

When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, few people, including President Putin, thought it would last long. 

Most commentators assumed Ukraine would not withstand the might of the invading Russian army and the country would fold in a matter of days. 

They were wrong. Eight months later and at the time of this report, Europe is experiencing one of its biggest conflicts since World War 2. 

On the 25th February 2022, days after the invasion, Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, posted a video to Instagram. It was of himself and senior government officials in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv. In the video, he tells the Ukrainian public that he and his colleagues are all staying in Kyiv to defend their independence against the Russian army. 

It’s a short video at 32 seconds but it set the precedent of the Ukrainian determination to fight and showed how a statesman can use social media effectively during wartime. 

Since then and throughout the war, social media has been Zelensky’s main way to communicate to multiple audiences. It supports him in international diplomacy and gives him a direct channel to speak to the people in Ukraine and around the world. 

Without social media, it is doubtful how effective Zelensky’s diplomacy efforts would have been and thankfully he has the skill set to use it effectively.

As a former actor, he understands the art of communication and rhetoric and has the charisma to use social media well. In contrast to Putin, who does not use social media at all, Zelensky’s skills are perfect for this form of communication. 

This analysis looks at President Zelensky’s use of his key social channels, the strategy behind them and what it means to be a wartime statesman in the social media age.

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What we did:

  • Analysed the overarching strategy for President Zelensky’s two main social channels: Instagram and Twitter 
  • Compared growth and engagement data pre and post Russian invasion 
  • Identified the key content themes he uses across priority social media platforms 
  • Identified the key objectives, audiences and messaging for his social media strategy 
  • Segmented the key differences between his priority channels

Key findings: 

  • President Zelensky’s social media saw rapid follower growth immediately before and after the invasion
  • He uses 17 key content categories across his social media channels
  • Instagram is his priority social media channel where he has the most followers, receives the most engagement, publishes the most content and spends the most time on
  • Twitter remains an important platform for international diplomacy and engaging an international audience with content catered to world leaders, media diplomats and people of influence
  • There appears to be little to no coherence between his social media use and how he engages with international media
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Written by Thumos Team

We are Thumos. We’re the leading digital influence company. We shape reputation and grow influence through content and storytelling. You can contact us here.

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