Once considered the social media tool of choice for Hollywood celebrities, Twitter is now an important means of conducting business for many presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers, ambassadors, and diplomats. It’s a simple tool to engage the world in an open conversation and a to explore new innovative ways to actuate foreign policy priorities.
According to a July 2012 study by Burson-Marsteller (@B_M), almost two-thirds of world leaders have a Twitter account. “Twitter is closing the communication gap between us and our world leaders,” said Jeremy Galbraith (@GalbraithJeremy) CEO of Burson-Marsteller Europe, Middle East and Africa, at the release of the study.
However, the presence of so many world leaders on Twitter and the number of their followers does not necessarily translate into better connectedness. The study reveals that of the 120 personal accounts, only 30 tweet personally and then only occasionally. In addition, politicians seem to embrace Twitter mostly during election campaigns but tend to abandon it almost completely once elected.
Political engagement in 140 characters
Andreas Sandre is a press and public affairs officer at the Embassy of Italy in Washington D.C. Before moving to the US capital, he worked in New York at the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations (2007-2008). A trained journalist and communications specialist, Sandre is the author of Twitter for Diplomats (2013), published by the Italian Diplomatic Institute of Italy‘s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the DiploFoundation), and from which this article is adapted.