Bank Indonesia boasts more Twitter followers than US Fed or ECB

People walk to an entrance at Indonesia's central bank Bank Indonesia in Jakarta July 21, 2016. — Reuters pic
People walk to an entrance at Indonesia's central bank Bank Indonesia in Jakarta July 21, 2016. — Reuters pic

JAKARTA, March 12 — Shortly after taking the job, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell highlighted the need to communicate monetary policy better. He could learn a thing or two from Indonesia.

Bank Indonesia has about 625,000 Twitter followers — the most of any central bank. Among its almost 12,000 tweets are updates on exchange rates and inflation, prize giveaways and even a jaunty music video explaining how to spot fake bank notes. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde’s February visit spurred a flurry of posts.

Bank Indonesia spokesman Agusman, who like many Indonesians uses one name, said policy makers realised that use of social media had become a necessity considering the country’s large millennial population.

“With social media, we can breach communication barriers and also communicate in style,” he said. The bank is committed to making its content more “engaging and shareable” and “most importantly to become viral”.

Yet it’s not just about clicks.

Social media is an efficient way of communicating with the more than 260 million Indonesians sprawled across an archipelago of thousands of islands that would stretch from New York to London. And BI’s active communication reflects a hands on approach which sees its staff work with police to break up chili cartels in the oil boom town of Balikpapan or buy owls to ward off rats from the fields of Banyuwangi.

Indonesians are prolific users of social media. Its more than 24 million Twitter accounts puts it third behind the US and India, according to market and consumer data provider Statista, and it boasts about 90 million Facebook accounts.

Indonesian policy makers’ willingness to engage Internet users stands in contrast to the rather dreary lists of speech transcripts and balance sheet updates that make up the official feeds of Banco de Mexico and the Federal Reserve, second and third in terms of followers respectively.

Not content to just reach out via Twitter, a post published Friday with the hashtag SobatRupiah, or FriendsofRupiah, invited its followers to also drop by the bank’s offices. — Bloomberg

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