On Twiplomacy

Twiplomacy is the first-ever global study of world leaders on Twitter. The governments of almost two-thirds of the 193 UN member countries have a presence on Twitter: 45% of the 264 accounts analysed are personal accounts of heads of state and government, but just 30 world leaders tweet themselves and [a] very few on a regular basis. This study shows that while the social network invites direct interaction between users, few world leaders take advantage of this opportunity to develop connections.

RT if you’re the big Kahuna

Super interesting to read the analysis about how Rwandan President Paul Kagame has used Twitter to foster national dialogue–and maybe more interesting to read what Kagame is not willing to dialogue about via Tweet. Regardless, I have to admit it’s one thing for a mayor in the US (like Cory Booker) to be accessible and providing localised responses to constituents. But it boggles my mind that Twitter can actually enable any authentic communication between citizens and their President.

There is a certainly a large variation in the authenticity, frequency and mediation of world leaders’ Twitter accounts, namely because this is a new type of engagement with the public. In the future, as Twiplomacy increases (because it certainly will), these dynamics will probably even out towards more controlled messages and interactions, with less spontaneity and more planning.

But for now, it’s refreshing to see trial and error happening in real time, like Kagame’s Twolcano.  A la the  early days of Facebook–before it easily enabled brand management of politicians (remember pre-newsfeeds/statuses/pages/likes?)–there will be a time in the future we will marvel nostalgically about some of these first incidents of Twiplomacy. Relish it.

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