Most “Liked” General Authorities

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.

GA likes on Facebook

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!

Google searches

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.

GA searches on Google trends - top 7

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.

GA searches on Google trends - bottom 8

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.


  1. The Elder Hales uptick in 2011 would have been because of his health problems that year; he didn’t speak in the April conference, and at the October conference looked rather drastically altered. I think the Church even issued a press release after the Oct conference about his health because there was so much concern.

  2. Love this post (or any data-driven post). Personally, I suspect Eyring and Uchtdorf don’t get many extra likes for being in the first presidency, they’re just very likable guys:)
    One small request, for future posts: please include numbers in the vertical axis for the google trends charts. Thanks:)

  3. Thanks, Jenn. Good point about the vertical axis numbers. Sorry I didn’t make this explicit, but I deliberately left them out because the scores Google returns aren’t counts or rates of anything. They’re just relative search volume, normalized and scaled to make the highest value 100 (see here). I was concerned that if I left them in, it would be easy for people to look at them and wonder what they were counts or rates of.

  4. As much as the fascinating results of your calculatin’, I’m always amazed that you even thought to measure something like this!

  5. Thanks, Ardis! Actually, I owe the idea of counting GAs’ Facebook likes to someone else I saw discussing it in one Facebook group or another, but now I’ve forgotten who said it or where.

  6. This was very fun, Ziff! I’m surprised they don’t have a “sustain” button instead of a “like” button. It could be an arm raised to the square instead of a thumbs up.

    I wonder if Elder Eyring and Uchtdorf get liked more not just as ways for people to show how Mormon they are, but because they are better known. People hear them speak about 3 times as much as the others. I remember as a kid that I had a terrible time keeping the apostles straight, but the first presidency was easier to get a handle on.

    The whole thing kinda makes me wish they would post all their talks on facebook. Then people could like their talks and we/they could figure out which talks are the most popular (of course I can’t imagine them ever doing this, but it would be fun.)

  7. I would bet that Elder Holland’s spike had something to do with his bbc interview, for better or for worse. I’m going over to FB right now to “like” Elder Hales, simply because he’s the dearest man ever. And while I’m there, I’m going to “like” Elder Scott for his steadfast refusal to indulge in serial polygamy.

  8. I wonder if it’s going to be mentioned in the Ensign or the next general conference.

    “For those with social media accounts, the First Presidency and 12 Apostles are now on Facebook. Soon they will be on Twitter, Tumbler, Blogger….”

    I can also imagine the younger GAs wanting to get on the action as well. “LIKE ME BECAUSE I’M YOUR AREA PRESIDENT!”

  9. I remember in the mission field buying a set of the Apostles headshots, well I got them in the mail and they sent only 11 of them. They apologized but Elder Hales was out of order. I couldn’t and can’t understand why someone would buy individual pictures to the point of selling out of some! Don’t they sell them as a lot?!!!!


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