We have been working recently on developing some analysis on the online activity of Romanian Ministers. This post is the first in a series dedicated to presenting you in a structured way where and what the Romanian officials and government bodies are communicating in the digital space.
The first of our analysis is dedicated to the activity of Romanian ministers on Twitter. To this end, we’ve created a dedicated list where you will find all the active (and not so) official Twitter accounts of the ministers in the current Government. Unfortunantly, this will not be a very long list, as only 5 of the 25 members of Cabinet (26 including the Prime Minister) have official Twitter account and using them to reach out to citizens and partners.
A short summary of these accounts’s activity:
Rovana Plumb, Minister of Labour, Family and Social Protection, is available on Twitter under the username @RovanaPlumbMM. Mrs. Plumb is one of the most followed ministers on Twitter with 742 followers (people who follow her posts) and updates her account regularly, almost daily. However, a part of the minister’s posts are automatic updates from her official Facebook page, which means users only see a shortened Facebook link with no clue about its contents – not very user friendly.
Another minister who enjoys a good following on Twitter is Mr. Eugen Teodorovici, Minister of European Funds. Mr. Teodorovici (@) has 553 followers and let’s us know from the very beginning (very professional) that this account is managed by his communication team (I am sure you have already met Diana Gheorghita-Mihaila, the person responsible for coordinating the online activity of the European Funds Ministry and that of the Minister). The Twitter account is updated regularly with information related to the activities and official travels of the minister, as well as his official statements.
Ioana Petrescu, The Finance Minister, is followed by 455 users. Unfortunantly, her account, @petrescu_ioana, is no longer updated since March 2014, meaning from the moment he took office as Minister. This is a pity as up until that time Mrs. Petrescu used to update the account with interesting information related to academics articles or analysis of Romania’s economy. For a young minister, this could have been a good opportunity to continue her engagement with the citizens and “translate” rigid economic data and analysis into a more user friendly and social language, more accessible to the larger public.
Another minister who seized to update her Twitter once she was appointed is Mrs. Aurelia Cristea, Minister Delegate for Social Dialogue and Relationship with the Civile Society. Her account @aureliacristea is followed by 68 users.
Education Minister Remus Pricopie has a Twitter account since 2009 (which have said much about his communicative and innovative spirit!) but unfortunantly this account has remained inactive since its set up. There are 22 people following Mr. Pricopie, @remus_pricopie, mostly journalists, students or teachers.
Last but not least is Prime Minister Victor Ponta, with an account active since 2010. @Victor_Ponta has the largest following in the Cabinet – 9973 and let’s us know from the beginning that it is managed by the communication team of the Prime Minister. The posts are daily, with a good mix of video, photo and text content and although the language widely used is Romania (as it addresses the Romanian audience) there are quite a few posts in English as well, for his foreign audience and partners. I included the Prime Minister’s account last because there is a very big difference between the online activity of the PM compared to that of his ministers, a sign that probably there are a lot more resources and confidence in online communication in the PM’s team than in the ministers’.
We are, as I said, following closely these account to see how they will evolve – if new ministers will start using Twitter or if the present ones will increase their follower base.
According to Zelist, in July 2014 there were over 200,000 Twitter account in Romania and only 25,000 active Twitter users. It is clear that Twitter is not yet a very popular and mainstream social networking in Romania. However, journalists have based many of their news on the information picked up from the officials’ online accounts. Looking at those who follow these 6 ministerial accounts, I noticed quite a lot of journalists and media outlets subscribed to these Twitter accounts. So why would they do that? The simplest answer would be that it is yet another channel to communicate and interact. Or at least it could be if used properly. So far however, the engagement part has been quite low, as I haven’t really identified conversations between citizens and the ministers. Could it be because Romanians don’t know where to find their ministers online? Or because there is not enough motivation to engage in a discussion of them?
Also, I couldn’t help noticing the fact that important ministers such as the Foreign Minister, Tourism Minister or Defence Minister have no presence on Twitter – this I think is a missed opportunity in the context of more and more use of Twitter by their European or global counterparts. As I said, this article is the first of a series of special mini-analysis on the online activity of the administration. We are looking forward for your opinions and suggestions.