The 2015 Twiplomacy study, the only global annual survey of the presence and activity on Twitter of heads of state and government, foreign ministers and their institutions, was launched today with the latest updates.
Just as last year, we contributed to the study, being responsible for the general country reports on Romania and the Republic of Moldova, and the individual executive reports for the selected national accounts.
This year’s study analysed 669 government accounts in 166 countries and revealed that 86% of all 193 United Nations (UN) governments have a presence on Twitter, while only 27 countries, mainly in Africa and Asia-Pacific, do not have any Twitter presence.
Twiplomacy 2015 revealed once again that social media is an essential communication tool for governments and that Twitter has become the channel of choice for digital diplomacy. In fact, even real world differences are playing out on Twitter and sometimes end up in hashtag wars between embassies and foreign ministries.
It is clear that governments are putting more and more effort into their social media communication and the ones which put more financial and human resources into their digital communications are often most effective. For example, the report shows that @Elysee Palace is regularly posting six-second Vine videos to summarize state visits, while Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos @JuanManSantos is an early adopter of Twitter’s new live streaming application, Periscope, used for making important live announcements.
“It always amazes me how quickly governments adapt to the ever changing social media landscape,” said Matthias Lüfkens, Burson-Marsteller’s EMEA Digital Practice Leader and author of the report.
Especially European foreign ministries have continued to make mutual Twitter connections with their peers, creating what can be best described as a ‘virtual diplomatic network’. They can and do send each other private direct messages on the platform which are often faster and more effective than traditional diplomatic demarches.
Some of the main findings of the report are:
– U.S. President @BarackObama is still the most followed world leader, with close to 60 million followers, but Pope Francis (@Pontifex) is catching up fast with close to 20 million followers on his nine language accounts.
– The UK Prime Minister @Number10gov is the most followed EU leader with more than three million followers.
– Few world leaders are tweeting themselves. Notable exceptions include Estonian President Toomas Henrik Ilves (@IlvesToomas), European Council President @DonaldTusk, Latvian Foreign Minister @EdgarsRinkevics and Norway’s Prime Minister @Erna_Solberg, who admitted to suffering from dyslexia and makes the occasional spelling mistake.
– As of 24 March 2015, all world leaders combined have sent 2,653,876 tweets, posting on average four tweets each day. The Venezuelan presidency (@PresidencialVen) has sent close to 60,000 tweets, averaging more than 41 tweets each day.
– Rwanda’s President @PaulKagame is also the most conversational world leader with 86% of his tweets being @replies to other Twitter users.
– Quite a few politicians use social media in general, and Twitter in particular, only during election campaigns. Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo (@Jokowi_do2) was very active on Twitter during the election campaign in 2014 but has abandoned his 2.7 million Twitter followers since 21 August 2014.
– Among the Foreign Ministries the State Department (@StateDept) is the most followed with 1,7 million followers ahead of the Turkish (@TC_Disisleri), the Russian (@MID_RF) and the French (@francediplo) foreign ministries all with less than a million followers.
– More than 4,100 embassies and ambassadors are now active on Twitter and the list is growing daily.The UK @ForeignOffice has probably the largest ‘twiplomatic’ network and maintains a public Twitter list with a record 237 ambassadors, embassies and missions on Twitter. Canada’s is second with 184 missions and heads of missions on Twitter, followed by the Russian Foreign Ministry (160), the Polish Foreign Ministry (157) and Israel (146).
– World leaders tweet in 54 different languages, and English is by far the lingua franca of digital diplomacy. However, the 74 Spanish language accounts are far more prolific, making Spanish the most tweeted language among world leaders.
– All 669 accounts combined have an audience of 212,283,753 followers.
For Romania, the report identifies the following:
– President of Romania Klaus Iohannis @KlausIohannis
@KlausIohannis is the personal Twitter account of the new Romania president, launched on 2 September 2014, a few months before the presidential elections. During the election campaign, as well as after his election, on 24 November 2014, the Twitter feed is mostly automatically generated from his personal Facebook page. The president’s Facebook page, which is currently the most followed of any European leader, with over 1.5 million fans gathered in less than a year, is also the main communication tool of the presidential administration. In contrast to the very active and interactive Facebook presence, on Twitter the president has had little direct activity and only limited interactions with other users. Nevertheless, @KlausIohannis continues to attract followers, which show considerable interest to all the messages shared by the account.
– Prime Minister of Romania Victor Ponta @Victor_Ponta
Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta started tweeting on 27 September 2010, but until mid-October 2013 the feed was mostly automatically generated from his personal Facebook page and his blog. Since then, the account, run by the Prime Minister’s staff, has gradually intensified its use of images, videos, and links, as well as its level of engagement with other accounts, from foreign government officials, to diplomatic missions in Romania, journalists etc. @Victor_Ponta also occasionally posts messages in other languages besides Romanian. However, the most remarkable change has been the decision to make important announcements on Twitter before doing so through any other official channel, becoming an important source for breaking news for the Romanian media.
– Government of Romania @guv_ro
The Romanian Government joined Twitter in 2009, but only started tweeting on February 20, 2013. Until recent months, the government’s Twitter was linked to the institution’s Facebook and YouTube accounts. Now its feed is a mix of messages, from the Government’s posts on other digital platforms, to the tweets of national, European or global accounts from various sectors, which @guv_ro promotes mainly by retweets or by favouriting them. The account regularly announces the live feed of the weekly government session, it tweets live from special events, and actively engages with other users. Despite the heterogeneous mix, the three most used hashtags by @guv_ro (#odd15, #datedeschise, #opendataday) indicate that open data is a priority of the Government’s own messages on Twitter.
– Foreign Ministry of Romania @MAERomania
The Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched its Twitter account on 1 November 2009, and after two years of daily tweets, two other years of occasional posts followed. However, 2014 was a turning point in the Ministry’s activity on Twitter. @MAERomania gradually became a very active, dynamic and interactive user and it is currently Romania’s main digital diplomacy channel, tweeting mostly in English, but also in other foreign languages, on occasion. The constant activity of the account includes the use of images, videos, hashtags, and interactions with representatives of national and international institutions, of non-government organisations, and civil society. @MAERomania is very well connected to his peers, mutually following 37 other world leaders.
Access the full 2015 Twiplomacy study.
A very interesting feature of this year’s report is the additional 10 guest blog posts from the foreign ministries of Israel, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Slovenia, Peru, the Croatian government and the European External Action Service on the Twiplomacy blog http://twiplomacy.com/blog/.
Twiplomacy is conducted by leading global public relations and communications firm Burson-Marsteller, and in the words of Donald A. Baer, Worldwide Chair and CEO, “This fourth annual Burson-Marsteller Twiplomacy Study provides critically valuable insights about the communications practices and needs of leaders around the world.”