Twitter has been used extensively by individuals and organisations to engage with various publics and a Twitter handle in one’s own name is as good as one’s brand identity.
Hence, it comes as a surprise that when it comes to country branding on Twitter, the figures are dismal – only nine governments out of 193 UN member states own their country name Twitter handle. This has been revealed by the second part of the ‘Twiplomacy’ study, undertaken by Burson-Marsteller.
Yes, there is a @India account, but it is owned by an Indian person living in Guangzhou, China. The account owner shares pictures from his daily life and has made it clear that his Twitter handle is not for sale. With respect to other social media channels, India is one of just 19 YouTube channels owned by the tourism office.
The accounts of @GreatBritain, @Israel, and @Sweden are the most significant examples of country promotion on Twitter. @GreatBritain is part of the ‘Britain is Great’ campaign launched in March 2012.
@Israel is the country’s official Twitter channel, maintained by the Foreign Ministry's Digital Diplomacy Team. The account is one of the most followed country accounts with more than 66,000 followers and serves as the focal point for Israel’s government Twitter activity.
The Twitter accounts of @AntiguaBarbuda, @Barbados, @Lithuania, the @Maldives, @SouthAfrica, and @Spain are run by their respective official tourism organisations to promote tourism in each country.
However, three out of five country accounts are either protected, dormant, inactive, or suspended and almost half of the 71 remaining active accounts are tweeting an automated news feed broadcasting news about the country.
“Looking at the findings, it becomes clear that few governments and tourism organisations have understood the power of country branding and marketing on Twitter,” said Matthias Lüfkens, Head of the Burson-Marsteller EMEA Digital Practice. “There is a huge opportunity for countries to use Twitter as part of their communications to engage with a large and growing audience,” he added.
Data used was taken in November 2012, looking at the Twitter handles of the 193 UN member countries.