Who is the most liked General Authority? That’s a difficult question to answer. Fortunately, there’s a related question that’s much easier to answer, so I’ll go with it instead: Who is the most “liked” General Authority? Now that the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve all have official Facebook pages, it’s a simple matter to visit each and count the “likes.”
President Monson gets the most “likes.” Here’s a complete chart.
I’ve put the First Presidency on the left, followed by the Quorum of the Twelve in order of seniority. It probably shouldn’t be surprising that President Monson gets the most “likes.” “Liking” him on Facebook is probably like putting “LDS” for your religious views on Facebook. It’s an explicit signal about your religious beliefs or affiliation, but it might not necessarily mean you particularly like him relative to other GAs.
Similarly, in addition to the large number of people who appear to “like” President Monson to state their Mormonness, the fact that the members of the First Presidency nearly always have more “likes” than members of the Quorum of the Twelve suggests that people may also be “liking” all three of them to show how Mormon they are. And the same goes for the entire quorum: other than a couple of outliers, the number of “likes” for members of the Quorum of the Twelve is very nearly constant. The man with the largest number of “likes” (Elder Oaks) has only about 10% more “likes” than the man with the smallest number of “likes” (Elder Hales).
Are there any cases where number of “likes” actually signals liking? I think it probably does for the two outliers I mentioned. Elders Holland and Bednar are far above the mean line for the rest of the Quorum of the Twelve. Given how nearly constant the number of “likes” is for the rest of the quorum, I think it’s probable that the excess “likes” for these two men actually means people like them more.
You could also make a case for President Uchtdorf being liked more than President Eyring based on his higher number of “likes.” The difference isn’t large–President Uchtdorf has about 12% more–but the direction of the difference is the opposite of what we would expect if people were going through and “liking” by seniority. This result would also be consistent with the popular notion that President Uchtdorf is, well, popular. He certainly is with me, anyway!
It’s only a little related, but I thought it might also be fun to look at Google Trends to see which GAs were searched for most over the past few years. These graphs show what I found. I started with 2008, since the data from before then are pretty thin. I split the 15 into the top seven and the bottom eight in terms of total search volume summed across time. Note that the vertical scale of the second graph is only 20% as long as the vertical scale in the first.
President Monson consistently gets far more searches than anyone else. President Packer overtook him once in the later part of 2010. I’m guessing this happened because he gave the famous “Cleansing the Inner Vessel” talk that irritated a lot of people (in the Bloggernacle, at least) and got edited in the printed version. Elder Holland shows an uptick in the last year and a half. I’m not sure what (if anything) it can be attributed to.
In the bottom eight, I’m not sure if there’s anything to see but noise. Elder Hales’s spike in late 2011 might mean something, but then again, the scale here is really zoomed in, so it might just be loud noise.
Notes on method
You probably don’t care about this part, so I’ll understand if you skip to the end now. 🙂
I entered multiple forms of each Quorum member’s name in the Google Trends search. It will let you add up results for different searches by using a “+” between the terms. For each man, I used his full name with a period after the middle initial, without a period after the middle initial, and his title and last name. For members other than President Monson who also have the title “President” (Eyring, Uchtdorf, and Packer), I entered them with both “President” and “Elder.” For example, for President Uchtdorf, I searched for “dieter f uchtdorf + dieter f. uchtdorf + president uchtdorf + elder uchtdorf.” (Capitalization doesn’t appear to matter, so I entered everything in lower case.)
Google Trends won’t let you search for more than five terms at once (counting a bunch of terms combined with “+” as a single term), and the results are not an absolute count of anything, but rather are relative to the other terms in the search, so I had to be sure to include one person in all searches in order to use him as a baseline. Also, Google Trends returns weekly data for higher volume search terms, and monthly data for lower volume search terms. Unfortunately, about half the members of the Quorum got me weekly data, and about half got me monthly data. What this meant is that I had to use one man as the weekly data baseline (President Monson) and another as the monthly data baseline (Elder Hales). Fortunately, the graphs shown by Google Trends indicated that there was a month (October, 2011) in which my two baseline men had the same search volume score. I then aggregated the weekly data where it was present to monthly data. For weeks that spanned two months, I divided the search volume score into the months depending on how many days from the week were in each month. Once all data were in monthly form, I used the month at which President Monson and Elder Hales matched to put the data from men who originally had weekly data and men who originally had monthly data on the same scale. Finally, because the data were still noisy, I aggregated it to quarters.