Governments should get tweeting

Global – Only nine governments out of 193 United Nations (UN) member states own their country name’s Twitter account, according to a study by Burson-Marsteller.

In the second part of its “Twiplomacy” study, the public relations and communications firm found that three out of five country accounts are either protected, dormant, inactive or suspended.

China’s Twitter account, for example, is protected and shows no activity.

Almost half of 71 active accounts tweet automated news about their respective countries.

Great Britain, Israel and Sweden are three examples that are successfully tapping on Twitter activity to promote the country.

Great Britain’s twitter account was launched as part of its “Britain is Great” campaign in March 2012. Israel’s Twitter account is one of the most followed country accounts with 66,000 followers and is maintained by the local Foreign Ministry’s Digital Diplomacy team.

Sweden reported having over 65,000 followers. Taking a different approach, the country’s government passes the Twitter account to its citizens, letting them take charge of the account for a week each. Swedes will then share recommendations, opinions and facts about life in the country.

Ireland and New Zealand have since copied the rotation-curation idea.

Antigua Barbuda, Barbados, Lithuania, the Maldives, South Africa and Spain make use of their Twitter accounts to promote tourism.

Matthias Lufkens, head of digital practice at Burson-Marsteller EMEA, said Twitter is a major opportunity for countries to engage their audience.

“Looking at the findings, it becomes clear that few governments and tourism organisations have understood the power of country branding and marketing on Twitter,” he said.

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