The Top 10 Historic Tweets from our leaders

The 10 most historic tweets from world leaders over the past decade #Twitter10Years

Top 20 Digital Diplomacy Moments of 2015

The top 20 #DigitalDiplomacy moments of 2015. From the #Charlie Hebdo shooting to the #COP21 agreement.

Tweets from the #G20 Summit in Turkey

Obama-Putin Meeting at G20 in TurkeyOne of the most exciting ways to watch international summits in the digital age is to follow the leaders online and to monitor their posts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and even Periscope.

Turkey is the first G20 presidency to have set up a digital dashboard at G20live.com, even ranking the G20 leaders according to their Klout scores. Guess who topped that list and who is last…

Since the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2009 each host country traditionally maintains a bespoke Twitter profile for the meeting. From the @G20blog in Pittsburgh to the Australian government’s @G20Australia Twitter handle, the organizers tend to share statements and pictures of the leaders’ meetings.

The Turkish government has created an overwhelming array of G20 summit accounts ranging from the official Twitter handle @G20Turkiye2015 to specific handles for the @B20 business summit, the media (@G20SummitMedia), civil society engagement (@C20Turkey), climate action (@G20Climate), Think Tanks (@T20turkey), women (@W20Turkey) and youth (@Y20Turkey). This online communication frenzy might be bewildering but shows how important the digital sphere has become for summit communication with everyone wanting to have a voice at the digital table.

Obviously these official accounts tweet their fair share of boring handshake pictures as leaders arrived for the summit, but it is worth following the Twitter activity of the G20 participants to find that nugget, that picture, which will make headlines and maybe define the meeting.

The most memorable tweet from the summit in Antalya was a picture of the private tête-à-tête between President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin captured by Svetlana Lukash, the Russian G20 sherpa. On the other hand Canada’s new Prime Minister was celebrated like a rock star and many participants were trying to take a selfie with Justin Trudeau.

The beauty of these ‘tweets from our leaders’ is that they give us a glimpse of their discussions and open the meetings to a global audience without any intermediaries. Obviously they don’t live tweet their private discussions or give away summit secrets, however if you follow the right people you can learn a lot about what is going on behind the scenes.

From the tweets of one of the sherpas we also already learned, that the final communique was wrapped up before the Antalya summit even started and that it would contain a strong condemnation of terrorism in the wake of the Paris attacks.

In 2016 China will take over the G20 presidency, notably the only country without an official presence on any of the social media platforms. We will have to see whether we can expect the same openness to digital communications coming out of the summit in Hangzhou. Maybe 2016 will be the year, China embraces digital diplomacy and digital communication. Some of its embassies are already active on Twitter and Facebook.

Here is a collection of the most memorable #G20Turkey tweets

The Twiplomacy Top Twenty Twitterati

Top 20 TwitteratiWho are the most noteworthy world leaders on Twitter? Here is our tongue-in-cheek and irreverent Top Twenty Twitterati list in no particular order and purely based on personal preferences by the Twiplomacy team.

@Pontifex@Pontifex

Pope Francis teaches us that social media engagement doesn’t have to be a conversation. Despite only broadcasting, the Pope is the second most followed world leader with more than 19 million followers on his nine Twitter accounts.

@BarackObama @BarackObama Barack Obama was the first world leader on Twitter; he is the most followed, the most listed and is following a record 640,000 other Twitter users. But why is he giving most other world leaders the cold shoulder?

@MedvedevRussia

@MedvedevRussia

Dmitry Medvedev will go down in history as the first Russian President on Twitter and since becoming Prime Minister he has put the entire government on the social network. While he exchanged niceties with Barack Obama and Arnold Schwarzenegger in the beginning, his Twitter activity has taken a back seat since December 2012. The amateur photographer prefers to share pictures on his Instagram account.

@IlvesToomas@IlvesToomas The Estonian President is a ceremonial job and Toomas Henrik Ilves seems to have lots of time on his hands to tweet but he is regularly attacked by trolls. A must read for anyone interested in cybersecurity and European politics.

@AlexStubb@AlexStubb

Former Finnish Prime Minister has learned that Twitter won’t help you win an election and that it is not enough to have several hundred thousand followers if they don’t vote for you. As he once stated on his Twitter profile What you tweet is what you get.”

@CarlBildt@CarlBildt Carl Bildt, the former Swedish Prime Minister and Foreign Minister has not left the diplomatic stage and is now a self-proclaimed entrepreneur in future and peace, happily tweeting about major events and sharing his point of view about Russia and Ukraine. He does tweet himself.


@HageGeingob@HageGeingob

The President of Namibia made a splash when he joined Twitter in 2014 with a series of memorable phrases the best one being « Be a leader not a follower LOL »

@RT_Erdogan@RT_Erdogan The Turkish President is among the five most followed world leaders on Twitter but that hasn’t kept him from lambasting the social network and shutting down the service in his own country.


@NajibRazak@NajibRazak

The Prime Minister of Malaysia is the selfie specialist, personally snapping selfies with his esteemed guests including Barack Obama, François Hollande and Turkish President Erdogan. He is now using a selfie stick for ‘groufies’ with larger audiences.

@Erna_Solberg@Erna_Solberg Kudos to the Norwegian Prime Minister, who is the second most conversational world leader on Twitter and tweets personally despite suffering from dyslexia and making the occasional spelling mistake. We wish she would write more in English and we don’t mind the typos.


@Regsprecher@Regsprecher

Steffen Seibert is the German government spokesman and the voice of Angela Merkel on Twitter. While he is doing a stellar job, he is only her mouthpiece and we would like to hear it from Angela herself.

@LeeHsieLoong@LeeHsienLoong The Prime Minister of Singapore keeps us entertained with his regular #guesswhere cityscapes and fun and engaging selfies even from the hospital bed. Continue to make us dream.

@JohnKerry@JohnKerry

It only took a year for the State Department to let John Kerry have his own Twitter account. Most of the tweets sent by Senator Kerry have been deleted from the account (except the @replies). Our advice: less handshake pictures, less retweets and more personal tweets just like before.

@NarendraModi@NarendraModi No one can ignore the meteoric rise of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his enormous social media footprint. Our prediction is that he will be the most followed world leader by 2017.


@PresidentAZ2@PresidentAZ

The President of Azerbaijan is not really diplomatic when he goes on long Twitter rants lambasting Armenia’s occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and almost declaring war in a tweet.

@PaulKagame@PaulKagame You want a conversational leader? Follow Rwanda’s President @PaulKagame. He doesn’t take any punches and has strong words for his critics.


@NicolasMaduro@NicolasMaduro

The president of Venezuela is the second most prolific and the third most retweeted world leader, averaging almost 3,200 retweets per tweet. Strangely his tweets are favorited ten times less. #Strange

@TaaviRoivas@TaaviRoivas Estonia’s 35-year old Prime Minister has proudly tweeted how easy it is to securely sign documents, pay taxes and e-vote in the most digital country in the world. Next up: cast your vote with a Direct Message on Twitter. #Seriously PS.: He is now wearing a tie on Twitter.


@EdgarsRinkevics@EdgarsRinkevics

It takes a lot of courage to come out on Twitter. The Latvian Foreign Minister has done it.

@HMATomFletcher@HMATomFletcher Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Lebanon has bared it all on Twitter and his blog the Naked Diplomat is a must ready.

By Matthias Lüfkens, who has been monitoring world leaders tweets for several years and will take a break now.

The European External Action Service and Digital Diplomacy

We have asked several foreign ministries to answer some questions about their #DigitalDiplomacy. Here’s a guest post from the European External Action Service.

@eu_eeas Twitter Profile 2“Twitter has proven to be a revolutionary social network even in politics. It is an extraordinary channel of diplomacy and of communication. That’s why with Michael Mann and the Strategic Communications Division, we have been working, since the very beginning of my mandate, on making Twitter one of the fundamental tools of our diplomacy.”

Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the European Commission.

In the short lifetime of the European External Action Service, social media – or perhaps I should say Digital Diplomacy – have come to play an absolutely crucial part in our communication strategy and hence our day-to-day engagement online. 

From relatively humble beginnings on Twitter, our reach has grown exponentially and at an even greater pace since the beginning of the mandate of the new EU High Representative and Vice President of the Commission, Federica Mogherini.

She recognises the importance of team work in successful Digital Diplomacy, the need to break down the silos and insist that all staff contribute the raw materials, rather than leaving communication as an afterthought.

Inspired – and trusted – from above, we have been able to undertake a major push, reinforcing our Digital Diplomacy Strategy for HQ and EU Delegations, providing pre-posting training for all new Ambassadors and working closely with the other EU bodies, something which is not always a given.

Perhaps our greatest strength lies in Federica Mogherini’s active involvement on Twitter. Unlike some politicians, the HR/VP personally tweets on @FedericaMog, as does her media adviser Sabrina Bellosi. Her engagement on Twitter gives us a focal point around which we can anchor EEAS Digital Diplomacy Strategy, and keep expanding our social media footprint globally.

The numbers speak for themselves: Federica Mogherini has 123,000 followers, an increase of more than 60% percent since the 1st of November 2014, and the central account of the Service @eu_eeas is now reaching over 94,000.

And all this – whisper it – with a full-time social media team at HQ of two people, ably supported by other members of our Strategic Communications team, who bring together a range of skills to help us achieve our goals and constantly evolve.

This intrepid group helps to run the EEAS Twitter and Facebook accounts, plus the Twitter accounts for two senior managers, two spokespersons and the head of StratComms, as well as Flickr, Instagram and YouTube.

In reality, our success goes far beyond the Brussels beltway, thanks to a growing band of enthusiastic well trained colleagues in EU Delegations around the world. Social media engagement through this invaluable network has proved paramount in strengthening EEAS Digital Diplomacy efforts, considerably expanding our reach to new audiences.

Today, some 96 Delegations are engaging on social media with local audiences, of which 59 are active on Twitter and supported by 33 of our Ambassadors tweeting in a professional capacity.

We have made exceptional progress, but it would be wrong to imagine that we have solved the conundrum of how to best use these incredible communication tools. There is still much to do.

For a start, there is an inherent contradiction in digital diplomacy: social media are about transparency, speed and information sharing. Traditional diplomacy is often about privacy, long-term planning, incremental steps and moderation. Tweets are 140 characters, while diplomats traditionally like to use two words where one will often suffice. These two worlds might easily collide – our challenge is how to avoid that collision or even to reconcile the two. In this, it was vital to de-mystify and remove some of the fear certain colleagues felt about Twitter. 

We need to encourage our Delegations to innovate and act autonomously, but at the same time ensure that the key messages developed at HQ are properly communicated on the ground.

As in all things, there is no substitute for thorough training of staff in how to use these tools which are so powerful, but can miss their target if the inherent potential of the medium is not understood.

The choice of language, for instance, proved so vital to a successful social media strategy. There is little point in reaching out to the Arab world in anything other than Arabic. Tweeting on the Iran talks in Farsi brought a huge number of new followers to our accounts.

Engaging on social media in local languages has now become a best practice among all our Delegations, not least our Delegations in Kiev and Moscow, which have stepped up their social media outreach since the outbreak of the crisis.

Likewise, we are still to an extent feeling our way. Do our new strategies work? How do we ensure that the various accounts we run are sufficiently distinct, add value and support the central voice of the HR/VP? 

As our following grows, we also need to understand and assess whether we are reaching the right people, and what we can do better to attract key audiences and truly engage with them in a two-way conversation.

Though these challenges might remain, the list of EEAS social media success stories continues to grow.

The recent #IranTalks in Lausanne are an example of how the EEAS was able to use the power of digital diplomacy. As these negotiations rapidly hit the Twittersphere at their relaunch in 2012, it created an ecosystem favourable to instant reporting, well understood by key stakeholders.

That accurate reporting on the marathon talks were accessible to the outside world was thanks almost exclusively to various trustworthy sources on Twitter, overcoming the noise of disinformation.

The underlying dynamic was fascinating and EEAS Digital Diplomacy was here again at play. While the press pushed for leaks, the negotiators on all sides sought to let the world know what was happening without undermining what was going on behind closed doors. 

EEAS accounts continued to inform audiences on the key moments during the long days and nights in Lausanne, and provided attractive behind-the-scenes photos, while carefully reflecting the HR/VP’s role as facilitator of the talks.

EEAS channels kept the media and the public informed, through thoughtfully chosen tweets and retweets, without risking the kind of interference which could derail the entire process. When the deal was done, the HR/VP broke the news through her account, resulting in our most successful tweets ever.

So when all is said and done, what wisdom does the EEAS have to share with other ministries who would like to engage in the social media?

Our main strength lies in having the luxury of a senior and active voice around which we can construct our strategy, and a boss who supports us and empowers us to do our work. Much of our success is thanks to the time we have put into developing a detailed strategy and strengthening the links between HQ and our outposts around the world – encouraging outreach on the ground while keeping hold of the messages.

As Head of Strategic Communications since 2011, I find myself very privileged to work under the mandate of Federica Mogherini, whose leadership and enthusiasm for digital communication offers EEAS Digital Diplomacy a true opportunity to reach its full potential.

This is one of the most exciting projects for myself to push forward with the help of the EEAS StratComms.

By Michael Mann (@MichaelMannEU), Head of Strategic Communications, European External Action Service (@eu_eeas)