Twitter Diplomacy (Twiplomacy update)


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A closer look at Twitter Diplomacy (Twiplomacy) and how world leaders are using and abusing social media with the Twitter accounts of world leaders. 15 of the G20 Presidents and Prime Ministers have Twitter accounts ( .
This is an update from my previous Twiplomacy talks at #SwitchConf in Porto, Portugal 17 April 2011.

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  • Some of you may remember this tweet from 20 January 2009. “ Th e Portuguese President Cavaco Silva is inaugurating his official presence on Twitter. “ Over 2 years and 1368 tweets later not a single @mention. The account is not worth following. No wonder he only has 15.500 followers.
  • This is Dilma Rouseff’s first tweet after her election win in Brazil. “ It is an honour and a great feeling to be chosen to preside over my country.“ “ I promise each and every Brazilian my total dedication.” At the time she had already 330.000 followers
  • Once elected, her Twitter activity seriously suffered. “ Friends, very nice to be remembered on Twitter in 2010. Let's talk more in 2011.” This is her last tweet. The account has been dormant ever since. But she now has 540.000 followers. Who said you need to interact with your followers on Twitter?
  • Who has seen this tweet? Only 10 of you have re-tweeted it… This could have been one of the most historic tweets. The perfect tweet in one word: “Humbled” It is the reaction of Barack Obama after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. Well, it turned out he didn’t tweet it himself.
  • The @BarackObama account is not run by the @WhiteHouse but by the Barack Obama for America Committee. With 7.4 million followers it is the 4 th most popular account in the world just after Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Britney Spears. On April 4th he announced his candidacy for the 2012 election. Hence the comment from Derek Deal: “Y ou’ve changed man. ”
  • Someone who does occasionally tweet himself is the Russian president. At least he pressed the button to send his first tweet in June last year from the Twitter headquarters in San Francisco. “ Hello everyone! I am on Twitter, and this is my first tweet.”
  • Dmitry Medvedev tweets in Russian and in English and, believe it or not, his account is actually worth reading. In December 2010 the Kremlin created a personal account for Dmitry Anatolyevich. Why personalize the account? The next presidential elections in Russia are coming up in March 2012 and a personalized Twitter account can come in quite handy as Barack Obama has shown.
  • The Russian president also has two fake accounts worth reading. Persident of Ruissa tweets in English & in Russian with 83.000 followers His rival Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is not on Twitter but there is a fake account lambasting his former protégé. Your Twitter is unauthorized. Cease & desist.
  • Medvedev might not have much time to write his tweets but Dima definitely has time to take pictures on all his trips. He is an avid amateur photographer and his pictures now end up on TwitPic as this shot taken during the Toronto G8 summit.
  • The presidential pictures give an intersting insight into the daily life of the Russian president. Dima seems to like new gadgets. Last November he tested the new Samsung Galaxy Tablet. The presidential verdict: “ It's convenient, but the quality isn't great :-( “ [Notice the emoticon] Who said official tweets are always boring?
  • In November 2010 the Russian President visited the disputed Kurile islands on the far eastern end of Russia. You can imagine that this picture from Kunashir didn’t go down well with the Japanese authorities who called in the Russian ambassador to protest against the presidential visit.
  • The arrival of the Russian President on Twitter was immediately greeted by his peer in the White House. “ Welcome to Twitter President Medvedev!  ”
  • And also UK Prime Minister David Cameron in London greeted the Russian President. A couple of days later the two men met and agreed that they’d rather speak in person not just online.
  • These three world leaders could actually conduct direct and secret Twitter diplomacy in 140 characters. Literally spelling ‘the end of those red phones that have been sitting around for so long’ as Barack Obama joked. Welcome to the Direct Message Twitter diplomacy!
  • Since then more and more world leaders have joined Twitter. 15 of the G20 heads of state and heads of government have an official Twitter account. Those who don’t are Italy, India, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and China.
  • However they are not all following each other. The White House doesn’t follow Canadian Prime Minister Harper nor Mexican president Calderon nor any other of the G20 leaders. Only DowningStreet is following all other world leaders unilaterally. Marked in red on this map.
  • Incidentally it is in Latin America that the heads of state and government are the most active. And not only since the miraculous rescue of the “The miners of Chile and the miners of God” , saluted here by Argentinean president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner
  • In Latin America 9 Presidents have signed up to Twitter The most connected are the presidents of Chile, Argentina, Mexico and Venezuela.
  • Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez is actually one of the most chattiest leaders He now has 1.380.000 Followers I spoke with President Dilma. Asked me to greet all the Venezuelan people. "We will continue building the Brasil-Venezuelan Union"
  • Via Twitter he addresses his condolences to Argentinean president Cristina Fernandez after the death of her husband Nestor Kirchner, He congratulates Dilma Rousseff Brazil’s new president; And he declares his solidarity with Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon after a devastating mudslide in which hundreds were feared dead. This is the new heartfelt Twitter diplomacy.
  • Very few leaders are as close and conversational as Presdient Medvedev and Arnold Schwarzenegger. When Schwarzenegger left office Medvedev wishes him success in his new phase of life to which Schwarzenegger replies I can’t wait to see you again . We’ll definitely find the time tweets the Russian president.
  • World leaders are sharing more and more giving us a glimpse into their life. The German government and the French president recently tweeted about their video conference between Merkel, Obama, Sarkozy and Cameron. The French even twitpicked the scene.
  • Many politicians become very active pon Twitter during electione campaigns. The account of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is currently full of electoral promises.
  • He is trading direct blows with his rival on Twitter. When Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff offered a one-on-one debate. Stephen Harper shot back that his team had proposed 1:1 but that Igantieff’s team didn’t speak up.
  • The Japanese government has taken to Twitter exactly a month ago to communicate about the situation at the Fukushima nuclear power plant after the devastating earthquake and tsunami.
  • Here are the Prime Minister’s three rules on how to protect yourself from radiation exposure.
  • When going out, use cars as much as possible Wear a mask, gloves, & long sleeve shirts
  • And finally, avoid exposure to rain . That’s what you call crisis communication.
  • Quite a few leaders have understood that they can now go direct to reach their audience. The former governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger often organized Twitter interviews: „ I’m going to take questions live from my Twitter followers. Start sending questions “ tweets Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • This is not a PR stunt, this is the new way we will connect with our leaders. Jay Carney the new White House Press Secretary is debating how he can include questions from Twitter into his daily briefing to the White House press corps. « If you were a member of the White House press corps what question would you ask? »
  • Last January South African President Jacob Zuma reached out to his followers, asking for ideas for his state of the Nation address.
  • The White House publishes the photo of the day and even organized a fun photo contest: Who is Obama talking to? In the doorframe you can see the tuft of hair of advisor David Axelrod.
  • Under Gordon Brown the Twitter crew at Number10gov was very chatty and conversational. Under David Cameron the account has taken on a more serious note.
  • On 31 December, Herman van Rompuy reflected on the New Year coming. « As Always this uncanny feeling at the foot of the slope of an unknown year »  It is these personal Twitter moments which make our leaders so much more human and their tweets so much more interesting.
  • Herman loves haikus and a couple of days ago he tweeted in Dutch: White apple trees / smell of spring in us. / Every beginning is white. To which Johan Verheyden replies: Long evenings / pint on a terrace / summer before the door
  • What does it mean for us? It is the first time in history that we can directly contact our leaders. Anyone of us can send an @mention to the world leaders. They might not read the message personally but I assure you, their staff will.
  • Like Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has shown: Sean is wondering if you are real Julia Gillard and not a secretary. To which the Australian Prime Minister replies personally: Hi Sean, Just a quick hello!
  • So, let’s not waste this unique opportunity with spam and profanities.
  • Thank you very much
  • Twitter Diplomacy (Twiplomacy update)

    1. 1. Diplomacy How our leaders use and abuse social media Switch Conference, Porto, Portugal 17.04.2011 @Luefkens #Twiplomacy
    2. 18. Re the
    3. 37. @
    4. 39. ****
    5. 40. Thank You! Matthias Lüfkens @Luefkens @Davos @WEF Twitter visualization: Mentor Paçarada, @Frakton