Twitter has become one of the most powerful communication tools for the diplomatic world, offering a direct link both between leaders and citizens, and between diplomats themselves, who have built a virtual diplomatic network on this social media channel.
These are the main conclusions of the latest Twiplomacy study, launched on June 25, 2014, by Matthias Lüfkens, author of the report and Digital Practice Leader la Burson-Marsteller for Europe, Middle East and Africa. The Twiplomacy study is an annual global study by Burson-Marsteller that looks at the use of Twitter by the main leaders and state institutions.
For this year’s study, 645 government accounts in 161 countries were analyzed, of heads of heads of state and government and ministers of foreign affairs, as well as the accounts for the respective institutions. Twiplomacy 2014 indicated first of all, that while some heads of state and government continue to pursue followers on Twitter,foreign ministers have established a virtual diplomatic network by following each other on the social media platform, which allows them to stay informed on the other’s statements, but also to have private conversations via direct messages. Thus, for many diplomats Twitter has becomes a powerful channel for digital diplomacy.
For example, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (@LaurentFabius) is the best connected foreign minister, mutually connected to 91 peers and world leaders, followed by the European Union External Action Service, @eu_eeas, with 71 mutual connections, and Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt (@CarlBildt) with 68 mutual connections. Also, more than 3,000 embassies and ambassadors are now active on Twitter: Canada, France, Israel, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, Ukraine, the UK and the U.S. have put most of their embassies and missions on Twitter. In addition, more and more emphasis is being put on the personal engagement by ambassadors, something which particularly the UK Foreign Office in London highly encourages.
This report covers also Romania and Moldova, providing interesting facts about how Twitter is used by the top leaders and key central institutions. I contributed to the 2014 Twiplomacy study by accomplishing the analyses of the accounts selected for the two states, based on activity recorded from their launch until May of this year.
The analysis for Romania showed that both the President Traian Băsescu (@tbasescu) and Prime Minister Victor Ponta (@Victor_Ponta) have personal Twitter accounts, but while the Prime Minister’s is very active, the President’s account is dormant since December 2012. Moreover, the account of the Government of Romania, @guv_ro, launched in early 2013 has mainly automatically generated content from its Facebook and YouTube pages, exception being the China-Central and East Europe Business Forum held in Bucharest on 25-27 November 2013, when the account was live-tweeting. In contrast, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs(@MAERomania), although present on Twitter since 2009, became more active in recent months, being also the best connected account of all analyzed for Romania, with 15 mutual connections with other foreign ministries. For a more detailed analysis on Romania in 2014, access it here.
For the Republic of Moldova, President Nicolae Timofti has both a personal account (@Nicolae_Timofti) and an institutional Twitter account (@presedinte_md), the former having been active only briefly in 2013, and the latter being primarily used as a sharing platform for the president’s YouTube channel.The personal account of Prime Minister Iurie Leanca (@IurieLeanca) has been fairly active since it was set up last year, also steadily growing in the number of mutual connections. In contrast, the account of the Moldovan Government (@GuvernulRM) is dormant since 2012. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (@Diplomacy_RM) launched its Twitter feed in 2012, but it has become more active and better connected during the first part of this year, in the context of increased diplomatic interest in Moldova generate by the Ukrainian crisis and the rapprochement with the European Union. For a more detailed analysis on Moldova in 2014, access it here.
Next, here are briefly presented some of the most important and interesting key findings of the latest Twiplomacy study:
- 83 percent of all United Nations (UN) governments have a presence on Twitter, and two-thirds (68 percent) of all heads of state and government have personal Twitter accounts. However, few world leaders are tweeting themselves. Notable exceptions include Estonian President Toomas Henrik Ilves (@IlvesToomas), Swedish Foreign Minister @CarlBildt and Finnish Prime Minister designate Alext Stubb (@AlexStubb).
- “I am a firm believer in the power of technology and social media to communicate with people across the world,” India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote in his inaugural message on his new website. Within weeks of his election in May 2014, the @NarendraModi account has moved into the top five most followed Twitter accounts of world leaders with close to five million followers.
- The most followed world leaders re U.S. President Barack Obama (@BarackObama) with 43 million followers, Pope Francis (@Pontifex) with 14 million followers on his nine different language accounts, and Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (@SBYudhoyono) with 5 million followers.
- Pope Francis (@Pontifex) is the most influential world leader on Twitter. His Spanish tweets are retweeted on average more than 10,000 times each. In comparison, @BarackObama’s tweets are only retweeted an average 1,400 times each, despite his massive following.
- Turkey’s @Ahmet_Davutoglu is the most followed foreign minister with 1,509,473 followers.
- Ugandan Prime Minister @AmamaMbabazi is the most conversational world leader with 95 percent of his tweets being @replies to other Twitter users.
- The Mexican Presidency (@PresidenciaMX) is the most prolific, posting on average 78 tweets each day.
- Quite a few politicians use Twitter only during election campaigns. Chile’s new President Michelle Bachelet abandoned her Twitter account @PrensaMichelle once elected on 11 March 2014. The personal Twitter account of French Prime Minister @ManuelValls has been dormant since the elections on 9 May 2012.
- World leaders tweet in more than 53 different languages, but English is the lingua franca on Twitter.
For more details, you can access the full report here.