New Zealand's most Facebook-savvy MPs revealed

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is by far New Zealand's most Facebook-savvy MP, followed by Chlöe Swarbrick in second place and Simon Bridges in third.

CrowdTangle, a social media monitoring platform purchased by Facebook in 2016, has data that shows the total interactions of New Zealand MPs' Facebook pages.

The data shows how high-profile Members of Parliament (MPs) tend to have higher interactions on Facebook - the collective number of likes, comments and shares on posts.

The Prime Minister came out on top with 118,956 total Facebook interactions over the past 30 days (as of 24 April), compared to runner-up Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick who had 24,280.

National leader Simon Bridges had the third-highest interactions at 17,369, followed by ACT leader David Seymour on 15,257 and National MP Chris Bishop on 11,839.

While New Zealand First leader Winston Peters didn't crack the top 10 in terms of total interactions, his Facebook page has the second-highest number of likes at 96,000, behind the Prime Minister's more than 500,000.

At the bottom of the list was Labour list MP Raymond Huo whose Facebook page has 13 likes and had no interactions over the past 30 days. Ahead of Huo was National MP David Carter who had 13 interactions, and Labour MP Ruth Dyson who had 42.

Chlöe Swarbrick, Jacinda Ardern, Simon Bridges and David Seymour had the highest interactions on Facebook.
Chlöe Swarbrick, Jacinda Ardern, Simon Bridges and David Seymour had the highest interactions on Facebook. Photo credit: Getty / Green Party / Facebook

Technology and social media commentator Paul Brislen told Newshub social media is a great way of reaching out to the community and talking to people on a one-to-many basis.

"For a politician, it's a fantastic platform in order to reach out and engage with their constituencies or with potential constituents."

He said politicians often have their staff publish posts on their behalf, and therefore it's all "one way traffic" - using social media as "another media dissemination tool".

The more rewarding approach, he said, is to "do what Chlöe does" which is to "engage and talk to people and ask questions and answer questions and share links".

"That for me is the best way of doing it."

Top 10 MP Facebook pages based on interactions

  1. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
  2. Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick
  3. National leader Simon Bridges
  4. ACT leader David Seymour
  5. National MP Chris Bishop
  6. National MP Hamish Walker
  7. Labour MP Ginny Andersen
  8. National MP Judith Collins
  9. National MP Simeon Brown
  10. NZ First leader Winston Peters

How MPs view social media

The Prime Minister is no stranger to publicity, having recently made it into Time magazine's 100 most influential people for the second time, after her handling of the March 15 Christchurch terror attack.

Her recent post thanking a 95-year-old man for showing support for the Muslim community garnered 27,000 likes and almost 2000 shares.

Ardern has spoken out against Facebook after it failed to remove livestream footage of the Christchurch shooting. She's teamed up with French President Emmanuel Macron to encourage tech companies to stop social media being used to promote extremism.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said she uses social media "widely" as a communications tool and "will continue to do so". The spokesperson said it's an "important part of the way she communicates with New Zealanders."

But the spokesperson also said that doesn't mean it's not important to have "good rules around how social media is used" and to "ensure it is never used again in the way it was over the March 15 terror attacks". 

Jacinda Ardern has made it into Time magazine's 100 most influential people for the second time.
Jacinda Ardern has made it into Time magazine's 100 most influential people for the second time. Photo credit: Getty

Bridges, who fetched the third-highest amount of interactions, said social media continues to grow in importance when it comes to politics, and Facebook is one way that he engages with voters.

He told Newshub: "Any contact that I have with voters, whether it's in person, online or through traditional media is important to me."

The National leader's 17,376 total Facebook interactions were higher than National MP Judith Collins' total of 7858.

The MP with the second-highest interactions, 24-year-old Swarbrick, is New Zealand's youngest Member of Parliament and boasts more than 42,000 followers on Facebook.

Swarbrick is also no stranger to publicity, having gained significant media attention when she ran in the 2016 Auckland mayoral election, coming in third place. After losing to Phil Goff, she joined the Green Party and was elected as a list MP.

Swarbrick told Newshub the internet gave her the opportunity to meet people and "genuinely engage in their issues" as a mayoral candidate, despite having "no money, no institutional backing and no recognition".

"It was an opportunity to present and host the empathetic, considered, nuanced and detailed conversation I think is critical to the health of our democracy."

But Swarbrick said she also recognises how social media is "rightfully experiencing critique at the moment" in the wake of the Christchurch attacks.

Chlöe Swarbrick  is New Zealand's youngest MP.
Chlöe Swarbrick is New Zealand's youngest MP. Photo credit: Getty

"The internet at its inception was heralded as an opportunity to democratise information, communication and organisation, but it's become increasingly captured, divided and conquered by some dubious interests."

She added: "That convenience and accessibility is important, but I have far greater ambitions for real-world community building, and to do that, we sometimes need to get offline."

ACT leader David Seymour, who had the fourth-highest interactions, told Newshub: "We do promote ACT's message on other social media platforms, but people seem to respond most positively on Facebook."

New Zealand MPs also have large followings on Twitter, like Ardern whose post announcing her pregnancy last year racked up over 25,000 likes.

But that pales in comparison to National MP Andrew Falloon's recent tweet about a cat that went viral and received almost 500,000 likes - the most any New Zealand politician has ever received.