Have you ever wonder who owns your country on Twitter? Chances are it is not your government, nor the state tourism board, but rather a smart individual who registered the account in the early days of Twitter. Only nine of the 193 UN countries accounts are officially managed by officials of their government.
The vast majority of country accounts are owned by private individuals, who had the bright idea to register the name in the early days of Twitter. Between 2006 and 2009 there was a Twitter land grab, similar to the .com domain frenzy in the 1990s, of brand and country accounts. Today all English-language country names have been registered. However, only a third of them (67 accounts) are actively used. The vast majority is dormant (43 accounts), inactive (30 accounts), protected (14 accounts) or suspended (36 accounts).
The second part of the “Twiplomacy” study, conducted by leading global public relations and communications firm Burson-Marsteller, analyzes the English country names on Twitter. The data for the accounts was collected on 10 October 2012 and the full data set can be downloaded here.
Only nine governments and state tourism boards have secured their country name in English on Twitter. @AntiguaBarbuda, @Barbados, @GreatBritain, @Israel, @Lithuania, @Maldives, @SouthAfrica, @Spain, and @Sweden. @Ireland and @NewZealand are run by a group of private citizens taking it in turns to manage the account day to day in what has become known as ‘rotation curation’.
@GreatBritain Marketing Campaign
The @GreatBritain Twitter account is part of the ‘Britain is Great’ campaign, launched in March 2012 to promote the UK as a world-class destination for business, investment and tourism. The country marketing campaign, managed by the digital team at Number10, is a joint initiative by the government, the Department for Trade & Investment and VisitBritain, the national tourism agency. The @GreatBritain account, which only has 3,741 followers, is just one small part of the overall campaign which ran in 17 cities around the world and which has attracted more than 775,000 likes on its 13 different Facebook pages. The account tweets about everything that is great about Britain, from Team GB’s historic success at the London Olympics, to investment in the UK and great sites to visit in the UK. Its most popular tweet was about Prime Minister David Cameron’s favourite music, sent on 14 May 2012 and retweeted 166 times: “The Prime Minister has chosen his favourite album of all time. It’s The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd! #Music is #GREATBritain”.
Government Communication @Israel
@Israel is the State of Israel’s official Twitter channel, maintained by the Foreign Ministry’s Digital Diplomacy Team. The account registered on 1 July 2009 is one of the most followed country accounts, with more than 64,000 followers and listed more than 2,000 times. The account tweets on average 11 times a day and two-thirds of its tweets have the hashtag #Israel. The account mentions other Twitter users in almost every tweet, and its most mentioned tweeps are Size Doesn’t Matter @SDoesntMatter (173 times), which tweets about Israeli nightlife, pop-culture, technology, art and innovation, @NoCamels (128 times), a news website covering all the latest innovations coming out of Israel and @TouristIsrael (121 times), Israel’s ‘cool’ travel guide. However the state account rarely replies to questions from Twitter users with @replies.
The @Israel account serves as the focal point for Israel’s governmental Twitter activity and maintains updated lists of its 125 missions, 47 government officials and 33 government offices on Twitter. During the opening ceremony of the London Olympics the account campaigned for a minute of silence in memory of the eleven Israeli athletes killed during the Munich Olympics 40 years ago tweeting the hashtag #StandForMunich11 every eleven minutes. Its most popular tweet was sent on 19 April 2012 and retweeted 612 times announcing the annual “#Holocaust Remembrance day: At 10AM, Israel comes to a stop when the siren is sounded around the country for 2 minutes.”
Citizen Diplomacy @Sweden
“Anyone can be a diplomat. All you have to do is hit send,” said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the opening of the Social Good Summit in September 2012. Nowhere has this been more applicable than in Sweden, the first country in the world to give the management of its official Twitter account to its citizens. On 10 December 2011, by the Swedish Institute and Visit Sweden, the government tourism agency launched the Curators of Sweden project with the idea that: “Every week, someone in Sweden is @Sweden: sole ruler of the world’s most democratic Twitter account. For seven days, he or she recommends things to do and places to see, sharing diverse opinions, and ideas along the way. Tweet by tweet, the image of Sweden is built: dynamic, innovative and deeply human. No censorship, no limits”. In June 2012, the experience made international headlines when curator Sonja Abrahamsson sent a flurry of controversial and politically insensitive tweets offending more than one follower.
The curators of Sweden are extremely conversational, engaging in direct dialogue with their followers making it the third most popular country account with over 66,000 followers. The Swedish curators are very chatty, sending on average more than 145 tweets/day, half of which are @replies to other Twitter users. Its most popular tweet, retweeted 248 times during the month of October 2012 was the injunction to share a picture for a moose “for no reason”.
Despite its mishaps the initiative is one of the best examples of ‘citizen diplomacy’, giving a global voice to ordinary citizens, and it has allowed thousands of other tweeps to learn about everyday life in Sweden from the citizens themselves.
Rotation Curation @Ireland
The Swedish experience has inspired numerous Twitter users around the world. The owners of @Ireland and @NewZealand have been most successful at copying what has become known as rotation curation, outsourcing the official tweeting to a different citizen or resident each week.
@Ireland is a private initiative set up by Gateway Ireland committed to “connecting Ireland to the world and the world to Ireland.” The Irish voices of @Ireland are not confined to the island but come from the global Irish diaspora and have collected more than 9,000 followers. @Ireland‘s most popular tweet was a picture of “Ireland and Britain from the International Space Station :)” sent on 20 August 2012 and retweeted 67 times.
Searching Curators Worldwide
The Twitter curation of the @NewZealand account abruptly stalled in September 2012 when all of its previous 2,200 tweets disappeared and the account was left unattended for several weeks. In more than 20 countries ‘voluntwitter’ groups have formed to promote their country through ordinary tweets. From Australia to the USA, France to Denmark and the Netherlands to Malaysia citizens are now sharing their normal daily lives in 140 characters. Attempts to rally Chinese, Fijians, Russians and Syrians have been less successful. As @We_R_Russia put it: “Unfortunately it’s not so easy to find somebody who speaks English and wants to share his thoughts w the World.”
Tourism Promotion @SouthAfrica
How do you market a country on Twitter? The obvious choice is to secure your country’s name on Twitter. The accounts of @AntiguaBarbuda, @Barbados, the @Maldives, @SouthAfrica, and @Spain are all managed by their official tourism authorities promoting the country to a global audience in the Twitterverse.
@Lithuania has been dormant since 9 January 2010 and it is unclear whether the account is run by the government’s ‘Official Gateway of Lithuania. @Belize is run by the WhyGo travel guide publishers, promoting Belize as a holiday destination.
@Spain is the official account of the Spanish tourism board (Turespaña). The account tweets in English and Spanish, often sharing pictures of the country’s main attractions with its more than 46,000 followers. The Spanish tourism authority was also lucky enough to register the vanity url on its Facebook page http://facebook.com/Spain.
The Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority also secured the country’s Facebook vanity url http://facebook.com/AntiguaBarbuda and owns the country’s Twitter handle @AntiguaBarbuda. Its tweets are automatically generated through Facebook and often truncated, which is also why the account is not very popular with only 3,031 followers. Its most popular tweet, retweeted 24 times, was sent on 5 August 2012 in support of sprinter Daniel Bakka Bailey at the Olympics: “#TeamAntigua&Barbuda….. Let’s go Daniel Bakka Bailey… #Olympics”.
The @SouthAfrica account, with @AntiguaBarbuda and @Israel, is one of only three verified country accounts. It has over 17,000 followers and is managed by the South African Tourism board for North America, which also owns the @GoToSouthAfrica account with 22,000 followers. The account promotes tourism in South Africa with an average of three tweets a day. Its most popular tweet, retweeted 81 times, simply stated: “RT if you love South Africa!”
@Barbados is the official account of the Barbados Tourism Authority and has over 11,000 followers and is quite active with 5,528 tweets sent since it was registered on 12 January 2009. The account is quite conversational with every third tweet being an @reply. Its most popular tweet was sent on 20 February 2012 to the island’s most famous singer and actress: “Happy 24th Birthday, @Rihanna!”
The @Maldives account, managed by the Maldives Promotion House, has been tweeting news from its website since 1 April 2012. The account often retweets Twitpic and Instagram pictures of the islands from other Twitter users. Its most retweeted tweet is the news that Olympic champion “Michael Phelps Celebrates Olympic Success in Maldives http://t.co/PhQcxLzD #London2012 #Olympics #Maldives”.
Active Personal Accounts
Sixty-seven accounts are active including 27 news feed accounts (see below). @Albania, @Austria, @Bahrain, @Bangladesh, @Belarus, @Benin, @Botswana, @Bulgaria, @Chad, @Chile, @EastTimor, @Germany, @Ghana, @Grenada, @Guatemala, @Haiti, @India, @Jordan, @Kosovo, @Kuwait, @Laos, @Lesotho, @Liechtenstein, @Montenegro, @Nepal, @Oman, @Portugal, @Romania, @SriLanka, @Swaziland, @Togo, @Tonga, @Uganda, @UnitedStates, @USA, @Yemen are used by their owners for private use not always with the intention of promoting the country.
The owner of @Austria claims to be from Austria and claims to help his followers to “Connect with Austria and Austrians” but he mainly tweets in German. @Germany is a Berlin-based Twitter account retweeting occasional political and sports news about Germany.
The @Bahrain account is clearly in the hands of opponents of the government posting pictures of the protests in Manama in 2011 and following mainly human rights activists. The @Yemen account sports the picture of a hand making the V-victory sign, but the feed has a decidedly anti-American tone.
The @Bulgaria account holder consistently retweets any tweets including pictures that mention @Bulgaria. “Where are the other beautiful photos from Bulgaria? Send them to me!” he tweeted on 16 May 2012
Likewise the @Portugal account comments on pictures posted by other Twitter users mentioning @Portugal. The owner of @Portugal has indicated that he is open to the suggestion to follow the @Sweden example: “I think we can do that. I will do some research”, he replied to a question.
Some country names are also first names in English so it is not surprising that Chad Bullock from New York registered the @Chad account and Jordan Halvorsen from Nashville, Tennessee was first with @Jordan.
The @UnitedStates is run by a retired US army veteran who has changed the link of the profile from his blog about the US military (http://military.us.com) to a travel blog (http://visit.us.com) both of which are inactive, He is conservative and has expressed his dislike for Barack Obama.
@USA is asking Americans to “follow us if you love your country” tweeting news, facts and history about the USA including a tweet to in remembrance of the 11 September attacks on the World Trade Center.
@Chile was registered by a Chilean-American living in Chicago, Illinois who “loves soccer, music, crossfit, friends, Ohio University and Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches.”
Some accounts have been registered by travel agencies to promote the destination. George Appiah is the owner of @Ghana and describes his services in the bio “a native Ghanaian leads you through the best places to visit, stay, and eat in Ghana” with links to his Ghana Traveller website. The @Haiti account is run by Pradip Malde (http://pradipmalde.com, @pmalde), a photographer and teacher at the Department of Art and Art History at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. Pradip Malde is doing documentary photo projects in Haiti, but tweets mainly news about Haiti on the account.
Many accounts were registered by web-savvy web developers like Nicolae Sfetcu who owns the @Romania and @Kosovo accounts and is using them to promote his web design services to his 10,000 followers, signing his tweets ^NS. @Bangladesh is owned by @Ekushey aka Russell John, a freelance IT consultant from Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The @Guatemala is the property of Mission Guatemala, a project in San Andrés Semetabaj initiated by Tom Heaton, a pastor in the Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church.
Probably the easiest way to populate a Twitter account is by setting up an automated newsfeed and 27 of all country accounts offer such a country-specific news feed. The @SriLanka newsfeed is run by a “Sri Lankan citizen tweeting breaking news, current events from Sri Lanka with content and perspective found nowhere else”. However the majority of the news accounts that are run like this are powered by an automatically generated newsfeed, tweeting news about the respective country from various news sources.
@Indonesia, whose owner is unknown, has been tweeting news about the country gathered from the main international news agencies since 19 March 2007 and has become the most popular country account with 189,770 followers. @CostaRica has the second most popular newsfeed, distributing a daily “Costa Rica Paper” including tweets from Costa Rican Twitter users to its 37,647 followers.
@France has been tweeting French music releases with links to Amazon, but the account has been dormant since January 2012. @Finland is a newsfeed set up by a Dutch internet company, tweeting Finnish name days and a daily Paper.li newspaper with news from Finland. The @Italy account, entitled “Made in Italy”, distributes news stories about Italy from Britain’s Daily Telegraph.
Of interest is the @Iran account, an English-language newsfeed about Iran put together by a journalist living in Qom, Iran. The owner of the @Switzerland account must be a Barcelona fan since that is the only account he is following. The account spreads news about Switzerland from a variety of sources.
The @Mauritius account is owned by Martin Ureta, a Swiss videographer, who also owns the @cameraman Twitter and Facebook handles (http://cameraman.ch) and specializes in wedding films. The account links to MauritiusIsland.com a website set up to share content about Mauritius.
@Estonia, @Georgia, @GuineaBissau, @Jamaica, @Lebanon, @Luxembourg, @Malaysia, @Mali, @Malta, @Morocco, @Serbia, @Suriname, @Turkey, @Turkmenistan, @Zambia all share news from local news sites in their Twitter stream. A word of caution about the @Malaysia news account, whose shortlinks contain a virus blocked by regular spam filters.
Forty-three accounts are dormant having been abandoned by their owners, namely @Algeria, @Australia, @Azerbaijan, @Bahamas, @Bhutan, @Bosnia, @BurkinaFaso, @Canada, @CapeVerde, @Croatia, @Djibouti, @Dominica, @Fiji, @Gambia, @Greece, @Guinea, @Iceland, @Japan, @Kazakhstan, @Kyrgyzstan, @Libya, @Mexico, @Micronesia, @Moldova, @Mongolia, @Myanmar, @Niger, @Philippines, @Qatar, @Samoa, @SaudiArabia, @Slovakia, @Slovenia, @Somalia, @SouthKorea, @SouthSudan, @Syria, @Tajikistan, @Tanzania, @Tuvalu, @Vanuatu, @Vatican, @Zimbabwe.
The owner of @Australia only tweets about once every six months, which prompted Ben Pobjie, a well-known Australian writer and comedian to call the account “lame”. @Australia replied: “B Kind – I would never call @benpobjie lame, yet you see fit to call my @australia twitter account lame… who r u ?!?!?”
The @Canada account was registered on 10 March 2007 by Javier Castaño from Málaga, Spain tweeting as @Xabel. For the past year account owner @Xabel has been tweeting about his attempts to transfer the account to the government of Canada: “@pmharper I am willing to hand over the @Canada account to the Government of Canada and expect nothing in return | contact w/ @xabel” he tweeted. @Canada is also following a range of Canadian media organizations but the offer hasn’t been taken up by Prime Minister Harper yet. @Xabel is also the owner of the @Japan account, which he is likewise “trying to give to the Government of Japan”.
The owner of the @Kazakhstan and @Kyrgyzstan has been hoping to sell the two Twitter handles ever since he registered both accounts on 16 April 2009 although the resale of Twitter handles is forbidden by Twitter Rules.
The @Bahamas account has been dormant since July 2008, ever since the owner “presented a craft workshop at the Methodist Church Youth Gathering in Freeport for 35 young people age 14 to 18 years.”
@Bosnia sent only one tweet: “Chatting with Ryan, drinking ginger ale, and suffering from pharyngitis, a sinus infection, and most likely a stomach bug, as well. Cheers.”
The @Croatia account has a beautiful background picture but has been dormant since June 2009 when it tweeted: “Sunshine all around..” The @Slovenia account has a profile picture of the world famous Lake Bled but has been dormant since 18 May 2012.
The @Libya account which sports the emblem of the now defunct Libyan National Council has been tweeting news about Libya since 30 May 2009 but the feed has been dormant since 6 July 2011.
@Mexico is the second most followed country account after @Indonesia, despite being dormant since 24 December 2011. The account has been tweeting Mexican expressions and thoughts about love since 19 March 2007. The last tweet, sent in December 2011 is a Twitpic of a bottle of Mexico’s famous Patrón tequila.
The @Philippines account which promised to tweet “Everything about the Philippines and about the Filipino.” has only sent eight tweets and has been dormant since 4 January 2012. Interestingly the account follows the Philippine President and the Department of Tourism.
The @Samoa account is dormant since 27 May 2012 when it tweeted, not without humour that “this account is mainly collecting spam followers. Welcome spammers”.
The owner of the @Guinea account, apparently residing in Taiwan found it fitting to put a Guinea pig as the profile picture.
The @SouthKorea account resembles a parody account describing the country as “The Land of the Morning Clam”, rather than morning calm. The account owner tweets occasional fun news about Korea and links to the official Korean portal http://korea.net.
Naomi Pendle, a lecturer at the University of Bahr el-Ghazal (Wau) and Marol Academy (Warrap State) chronicled her life in Sudan from December 2009 to April 2010 in 25 tweets as @SouthSudan, but the account is now dormant.
Since 1 February 2011 the @Syria Twitter account is firmly in the hands of the opponents to Bashar al Assad. However the account has been dormant since 8 October 2011.
The accounts of 14 countries are protected and there is no way to see what the owners of @Angola, @Armenia, @China, @Egypt, @Honduras, @Kenya, @Liberia, @Macedonia, @Malawi, @Mozambique, @PapuaNewGuinea, @Tunisia, @UK and @Uzbekistan tweet. However, looking at the profile pictures and the Twitter bio sometimes their profiles indicate who is behind the account.
J, the owner of the @Egypt account who lives in the Bay Area in California explicitly states on her profile in capital letters that she is “NOT EGYPT THE COUNTRY”.
The @China account was registered by Laura who has a profile picture showing her and three female friends sticking out their tongues.
@Macedonia has been secured by Macedonia-Evidence.org, a group of Greek scholars from Thessaloniki, Greece. The link in the Twitter bio points to a website which is an open letter to Barack Obama signed by 377 scholars supporting the Greek claim that “Alexander the Great was thoroughly and indisputably Greek” and that the FYROM is not entitled to the name Macedonia and or claim Alexander the Great as its famous son.
@Honduras is owned by Chris V who resides in Montreal and has only tweeted 15 times.
@Malawi was registered by the Epicentre religious group, who has shared some of their baptisms in videos on YouTube. Likewise @Mozambique was created by Pete, a Baptist minister who is “Making Disciples in Mozambique” on his blog, which is linked from the profile.
@PapuaNewGuinea is the property of the Melanesian Tourist Services, self-proclaimed “pioneers in Papua New Guinea tourism since 1979″.
The @UK account is the property of Brit Wiley who has never used it to send any tweets and there is no indication whether he is a Brit himself.
The owner of @Kenya has uploaded a black & white picture of himself and lists “linguistics, human rights, piano, yoga, art and zen” as his interests. He seems to be quite active with 814 tweets and over 1,900 followers.
The owner of @Angola has also uploaded a profile picture but without any further indication of his real name. The owner of @Liberia simply describes himself as a “Good man”. The @Armenia and @Tunisia accounts do not even have a profile picture but the @Uzbekistan provides an email address.
Thirty accounts are inactive, i.e. they have never sent a single tweet. Most of them have no profile picture and it is almost impossible to identify the owners of the following accounts: @Andorra, @Belgium, @Burundi, @Cambodia, @Cameroon, @Comoros, @Congo, @Cyprus, @CzechRepublic, @Denmark, @FYROM, @Gabon, @Guyana, @Hungary, @IvoryCoast, @Kiribati, @Latvia, @Mauritania, @Namibia, @Nauru, @NorthKorea, @Russia, @SaintLucia, @SanMarino, @Senegal, @Seychelles, @Sudan, @TrinidadTobago, @UAE). However despite never having sent a single tweet some of the accounts have gathered several hundred followers.
@Madagascar, which has 218 followers, is of particular interest. The account of the world’s fourth-largest island was registered on 27 July 2009 in Glendale, California and is the property of DreamWorks Animation, the makers of the eponymous Madagascar movie.
It is unclear what some of the account owners intend to do with their dormant accounts. Over the years, the accounts of 36 countries have been suspended by Twitter for various infringements of Twitter’s terms of service, namely @Afghanistan, @Argentina, @Bolivia, @Brazil, @Brunei, @Colombia, @Cuba, @DominicanRep, @Ecuador, @ElSalvador, @Eritrea, @Ethiopia, @Iraq, @MarshallIslands, @Monaco, @Netherlands, @Nicaragua, @Nigeria, @Norway, @Pakistan, @Palau, @Panama, @Paraguay, @Peru, @Poland, @Rwanda, @SaintKittsNevis, @SaoTomePrincipe, @SierraLeone, @Singapore, @SolomonIslands, @Thailand, @Ukraine, @Uruguay, @Venezuela, @Vietnam.
It is currently impossible to re-register these suspended country accounts. The accounts, which have been confiscated by Twitter, might only be available for transfer if requested by an official government representative.
How to Claim Your Country Account
For some it is frustrating to see individuals ‘Twitter squatting’ a country’s name and using it for private communications. While it is fairly simple to transfer an account to another user, it is often difficult to identify the current account owner, especially those who withhold their identity on the Twitter profile and who do not react to public @mentions.
The Canadian and Japanese governments could easily recover their respective country handles. All @PMHarper has to do is follow @Canada and its owner @Xabel who seems to be more than happy to transfer the accounts as long as the Prime Minister contacts him directly via Twitter’s direct message system.
Twitter clearly states in its ‘Name Squatting Policy’ “that we will not release inactive or squatted usernames except in cases of trademark infringement.” Twitter is working on a policy to release suspended, dormant and inactive accounts but has not given any timeframe.
If a government or the official tourism agency cannot claim its country name by reporting a trademark issue, there is a workaround, albeit not the most elegant, by simply adding an underscore before or after the country name, although many countries names with the underscore have already been taken.
Looking at continent accounts it is worth noting that @Asia, @NorthAmerica and @SouthAmerica have been suspended. @Africa is protected as is the @Europe account registered by Euro Perozzi a “consultant and father of three” who lives in Verbania, Italy and who only tweeted once.
The @Americas account is owned by Brett Riesenhuber, self-proclaimed ‘America’s Top Weight Loss Professional’, located in San Jose, California offering personal training weight loss programs. The @America account is a parody account calling on its followers to “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask, what did I eat today…” And finally @Antarctica is dormant with only two tweets since 7 August 2007.
The governments of Chad and Jordan will probably not be able to easily recover their country accounts which have been registered respectively by filmmaker Chad Bullocks and Jordan Halvorsen from Nashville, Tennessee. The Montenegro account was registered in July 2007 by Leslie Montenegro who runs a creative agency in Tampa, Florida and is unlikely to relinquish her name to the young nation in the Balkans. And finally it is unlikely that Euro Perozzi a consultant and father of three who lives in Verbania, Italy will cede his @EuroPe account to the EU authorities.
The government of Georgia will have to compete with the US State of Georgia to wrestle the @Georgia Twitter handle from the Travel Deals hotel booking service.
Vanity Urls on YouTube
It is worth looking at how other social networks namely YouTube and Facebook have handled vanity urls for country and regional names. On YouTube only 19 channels, namely Australia, Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Egypt, Estonia, Hungary, India, Israel, Jordan, Malta, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, and Vatican, are officially owned by the local tourism office or in the case of Israel and the Vatican by the state. 96 out of the 193 possible YouTube country name channels are closed or unavailable, and 57 channels have been dormant for over a year including the Chad channel, property of YouTube founder Chad Hurley.
Vanity Urls on Facebook
Facebook seems to have been most effective at limiting the registration of country names. 160 country accounts are simply non-existent and not available for registration. On Facebook the vanity url for Chad is owned by Chad Little, Montenegro is the property of Claudia Montenegro and Georgia is owned by Georgia Hodge.
Only four state tourism organisations own their vanity url, namely Denmark (70,020 Likes), Tonga (21,741 Likes), Antigua Barbuda (11,498 Likes), St Vincent Grenadines (173 Likes). Haiti was registered by the Haitian Consulate in Jamaica (24 Likes). Three other country names were snatched up by private travel companies. GreatBritain was taken by Marian Postolache, author of an interactive travel guide, Hungary was registered by a Dutch travel operator specializing in travel to northeast Hungary and finally Turkey is in the hands of ‘Pat’s Truly Turkish Travel Tips and Treasures’ based in Victoria, BC, Canada who also caters for Turkish themed dinner parties and has over 1,600 likes.
About the study
The second part of the “Twiplomacy” study, conducted by leading global public relations and communications firm Burson-Marsteller, analyzes the English country names on Twitter.
Burson-Marsteller identified Twitter accounts of 193 UN member countries. The study analyses their Twitter profiles and their tweet history. Data used was taken in October 2012 using Twitonomy (http://twitonomy.com). Over 30 variables were considered, including: tweets, following, followers, listed, the date the user joined Twitter, ratio followers/following, ratio listed/100 followers, tweets/day, retweets, % of retweets, user @mentions, average number of @mentions/tweet, @replies, % of @replies, links, average number of links/tweet, hashtags, average number of hashtags/tweet, tweets retweeted, proportion of tweets retweeted by others, total number of tweets retweeted, average number of tweets retweeted, users most retweeted, users most replied to, users most mentioned, hashtags most used, platforms most tweeted from. Burson-Marsteller also used Twitonomy to pull together the entire Tweet history for each account to find the most popular tweet. You can find the full Twitonomy data set here
A big thanks to Vibor Cipan, David Folley, Matthieu Fyot, Jessica Hedberg, Sam Jackson, Mladen Panić, Chrysanthi Sarafianou, Sam Sivarajah, Katarina Wallin Bureau who have helped compile this study.
8 November 2012