World Leaders on LinkedIn 2016

LinkedIn prides itself on being “the largest professional network,” a social media platform where companies post job offers and users create their digital CVs. Since few world leaders are actively looking for a job and their institutions are already swamped with applications, it comes as no surprise that world leaders and governments have been slow to embrace LinkedIn.

Despite its massive audience of 414 million registered users, LinkedIn can be considered a niche network for governmental communication. Burson-Marsteller’s research team has identified 154 governmental LinkedIn accounts, including 64 personal profiles of heads of state and government and 90 institutional government pages. However, only a third of the institutional pages are active and half of them are merely placeholders and have never shared an update. Five pages have been dormant for more than six months and all pages combined have a total of only 935,437 followers.

Institutional Government Pages on LinkedIn

Most Followed Government Institutions on LinkedInMany governments and institutions have a passive presence on LinkedIn; their respective entries were created through personal profile updates of current and former employees who have associated with their employer. The page of The White House is a case in point: More than 1,000 administration staff, including the personal profile of President Barack Obama, are associated with the White House page. However the page doesn’t seem to be official and has not been claimed by the Obama administration.

Of the 30 governments active on the platform, most use LinkedIn as a recruiting tool, posting links to job openings advertised on their respective websites. Only six institutions, such as the Dutch government, the Dutch and the French Foreign Ministries, have taken a paid LinkedIn subscription and created dedicated ‘career pages’ to scout out new talent on LinkedIn.

Only 13 governmental organizations use LinkedIn as a publishing platform to tap into the LinkedIn community and their constituents. The European Commission is the most followed government institution on LinkedIn, with more than a quarter of a million followers. The EU Commission shares posts with a clear business focus about the “EU Investment plan” or “How to improve the environment for Startups in Europe” and “reaching potential investors.” The Commission is fairly active with one post per day and highly successful in engaging its followers on the platform attracting a fair share of likes and comments.

The U.S. State Department is in second position with 150,000 followers. The page is targeted to potential recruits, promotes career fairs and posts the odd job listing. The page is not overly active and doesn’t post any other foreign affairs related posts.

The Canadian government, the Dutch government and the UK Foreign Office complete the top five list with more than 30,000 followers each on their respective pages. It is interesting to note that the government in Ottawa has not become active on the platform despite its large LinkedIn audience.

The LinkedIn posts of the UK Foreign Office and the Office of the Prime Minister of Israel are tailored to the LinkedIn audience with a business focus including meetings of Benjamin Netanyahu with visiting foreign CEOs and sharing economic data.

The Canadian government has created so-called “showcase pages” for three of its embassies; however, only the High Commission of Canada in Mozambique is occasionally active. Australia’s Foreign Ministry has created similar sub-pages for its embassies in Washington, Jakarta and its trade and investment specialists who regularly post a link to their weekly Trade Talk e-newsletter.

However, in general, little love goes into postings on LinkedIn and they are rarely visually appealing. It seems LinkedIn is the last thing on the mind of a social media manager and few governmental pages are active on a regular basis. Several social media teams have tried to simplify posting by cross posting from Facebook or Twitter to their LinkedIn page. However some of these posts include hashtags which don’t work on LinkedIn.

Two thirds of the pages analyzed are either dormant or inactive and some have clearly outdated information. LinkedIn does not delete old company pages, as that would affect the profiles of all current and former staff associated with these pages. The Swedish government has decided to pool its multiple pages for each ministry into a one central government page which is close to reaching the 10,000 follower mark.

Leaders’ Personal Pages on LinkedIn

Most Followed World Leaders on LinkedInSixty-five heads of state and government and foreign ministers have set up personal profiles on the platform and they have a combined total of 4.7 million followers with a median average of 569 followers. However only five world leaders have been chosen to be among the LinkedIn Influencers, a select group of thought leaders and business executives who regularly share personal blog posts on the platform.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron is the most popular world leader on LinkedIn with 2.1 million followers. He is closely followed by India’s Narendra Modi with 1.6 million followers. HH Sheikh Mohammed, the Prime Minister of the UAE, Japan’s Shinzo Abe and Canada’s Justin Trudeau make up the top five. U.S. President Barack Obama comes in at sixth position, having only activated his account on February 26, 2016.

All of the above leaders, except Justin Trudeau, are among the 766 hand-picked LinkedIn influencers who occasionally share personal blog posts and are regularly featured on the platform. UK Prime Minister David Cameron has penned more than 100 blog posts on LinkedIn since October 2012 which have been viewed more than a million times and received more than 43,000 likes and 11,100 comments.

LinkedIn - Barack Obama Ice Cream JobBarack Obama, on the other hand, has only posted one post in February 2016 about his first job at Baskin-Robbins in Honolulu which received more than 254,000 views and 4,700 likes. Few world leaders are active on the platform and when they are they post only intermittently: India’s Prime Minister has published 26 posts, Japan’s Shinzo Abe 11 posts, HH Sheikh Mohammed six posts and Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen only three posts.

Four other world leaders are active on the platform, posting short form status updates, namely Sri Lanka’s President Maithripala Sirisena, Belgium’s Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, Latvia’s Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs and Kosovo’s Foreign Minister Petrit Selimi.

All other 54 world leaders are inactive on LinkedIn and have only published their CV with key dates of their professional life. Interestingly, 26 leaders have published their skills on their profiles which are open to public endorsements. More than 1,400 LinkedIn users have endorsed Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for his leadership and his policy and he has received 120 votes for his “Outstanding Interpersonal Communication Skills.”

Surprisingly few leaders seem to take care of their public appearance on LinkedIn: Only 15 accounts have a cover picture and seven didn’t even bother to upload a profile picture.

Connecting with World Leaders on LinkedIn

LinkedIn has recently started to advertise the number of followers for personal profile pages on the activity tab, but the number of mutual connections a user has is capped at 500 and indicated on the profile. Ten world leaders have made no connections on LinkedIn, indicating that the page is probably a placeholder and not ready for any interaction.

It is rather difficult and cumbersome to connect with world leaders on LinkedIn. To connect with Barack Obama, David Cameron or Shinzo Abe you will need to know their personal email addresses before proceeding to make a connection. Other leaders are more open to connect on the platform; and we have been able to connect with 13 of them on LinkedIn and will have sent them an advance copy of this study.

About This Study

World Leaders on LinkedIn is Burson-Marsteller’s latest research into how world leaders, governments and international organizations communicate via social media. The research builds on Burson-Marsteller’s highly acclaimed annual Twiplomacy study, now in its fifth year. Initially focused solely on Twitter, the 2016 study has been expanded to other social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and more niche digital diplomacy platforms such as Snapchat, LinkedIn, Google+ and Vine.

Burson-Marsteller has identified a total of 154 LinkedIn pages and profiles. Data was collected on April 18, 2016 and the full Excel data table can be downloaded here.

Thank you to Matthias Lüfkens for his ongoing strategic guidance on Twiplomacy and the World Leaders on Social Media series.

April 2016

World Leaders on Vine 2016

Executive Summary

Twiplomacy Vine Cover PictureTwiplomacy Vine - 10 Most Followed World LeadersWith Vine probably the most difficult social network to master and maintain, it is no wonder that very few governments are using it. Vine videos are only six seconds long and they loop, making editing an essential attribute of a good Vine.
Vines are essentially the video equivalent of a tweet, and often too short for meaningful one-line political statements. However, it is amazing what stories you can tell in six seconds either in animated infographics or stop-motion video format. Some of the most popular Vine stars have amassed millions of followers and billions of loops with their skits.

Burson-Marsteller’s research team has identified 47 Vine channels of governments and world leaders, 11 of which are inactive and have never posted a Vine. Seventeen channels have been dormant for more than a year, and only 19 channels are active on a regular basis.

In 2013 and 2014, some governments have used Vine for quick, one-line statements. For example, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has posted only one Vine, inviting his followers for a Twitter chat, and U.S. President Barack Obama encouraged the U.S. soccer team on the White House channel during the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Twiplomacy Vine - 10 Most Watched World LeadersThe White House has, by far, the most followed Vine channel, with 458,000 followers, almost 10 times as many as Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff in second position. The UK government, the State Department and UK Prime Minister David Cameron complete the top five list, however Cameron’s channel is inactive and he has never actually posted any Vine videos.

Twiplomacy Vine - 10 Most Active World LeadersThe 108 Vines produced by the White House have been viewed 125 million times, three times that of the 280 Vines on the Elysée channel of the French Presidency. The German Foreign Ministry is in third position in terms of total number of loops, ahead of the Brazilian President and the UK government.

The French Presidency is the most active governmental channel on Vine having produced 280 Vine videos ahead of the European Commission and the White House with 143 and 108 Vines respectively.


Governmental Vine Stars

First Lady Michelle Obama is the Vine star of the White House channel. Her “Turnip for what” Vine with DJ Snake and Lil Jon’s song “Turn Down for What” in the background has become a viral hit with close to 50 million loops since 14 October 2014.

She has recently re-edited the piece with National Basketball Association star Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors. The second most popular video on the channel also features Michelle Obama promoting her favorite fall vegetable, the sweet potato, with more than 10 million loops.

In October 2015, Michelle Obama invited a group of the world’s most popular Viners to the White House, including Lele Pons, King Bach and Jérôme Jarre – who had a blast judging from their Vines, which were re-vined by the White House channel and have clocked up more than 60 million loops.


The Elysée Palace has made Vine an essential part of the presidential digital communication, professionalizing the shooting and editing of their Vines. The French Presidency often splits the screen combining two or more video scenes in each Vine including a caption on blue background. Vines are produced to summarize the activities of the French President.

Vine - Elysee Flag at halfmastSadly, the most watched Vines of the Elysée Palace is the meeting of the Defense council in the wake of the Paris attacks in November 2015, as well as the lowering of the French flag and start of three days of mourning for the victims. Both Vines have garnered more than 10 million loops each.

Vine - Elysee Obama PutinThe third most watched video of the French presidency is the impromptu meeting between Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the 70th D-Day celebrations on 6 June 2014 in Normandy.

Many governments have used Vine as a video tool to report on the activities of their leaders either in meetings, or during official receptions, an example being the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry which Vines the arrival of official visitors to Vilnius. Vine - Lithuania MFA ArrivalsThe now dormant Matignon channel, named after the French Prime Minister’s residence, boasts 27 Vines videos of red carpet arrivals of world leaders, the last one being the handover between outgoing Prime Minister Jean Marc Ayrault and his successor Manuel Valls on April 1, 2014.

Vine is the perfect channel for short form news items such as the decoration of the Christmas tree in Vilnius, Lithuania, or the lighting of the Christmas tree in front of 10 Downing Street. Government Vine communication have also featured flags being lowered in honor of Nelson Mandela in London and in Paris on 6 December 2013. The UK Foreign Office made a strong political statement with a Vine showing the flag of the Falklands’ Islands flying over the Foreign Office in remembrance of the British liberation of the islands in 1982.

Vine - Number10gov FlypastThe most watched Vine of the UK government is a flypast of the Red Arrows over Westminster in honor of visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2015; the second most popular is a flypast of the same planes during the NATO Summit in Wales in 2014.

Vine - Number10gov Economic PlanThe UK government went a step further, creating a six-second animation attempting to explain the UK’s #LongTermEconomicPlan.

The government of Monaco has even posted a Vine of models on a catwalk during the Monaco Fashion week. However, since the advent of native videos on Twitter and Periscope, Vine is less used as a reporting channel.


Six Second Storytelling

Twiplomacy Vine - 10 Most Effective World LeadersThe German Foreign Ministry is the most effective government institution on Vine, garnering an average of 2,400 loops per follower. The Elysee Palace is almost as effective with its videos, far ahead of the White House and the French government channel.

The German Foreign Ministry has used Vine creatively to support its national football team during the World Cup in Brazil in 2014. Before every crucial match, Foreign Minister Frank Walter Steinmeier recorded a Vine video playing table footie, kicking the ball and gathering his staff to cheer on the Mannschaft. The four videos clocked up a total of 4.8 million views.

Vine - Auswaertiges Amt Steinmeier Vine - Auswaertiges Amt Steinmeier kick Vine - Auswaertiges Amt 2014

However it is a one shot pan of snow in the courtyard of the foreign ministry in Berlin on January 6, 2016 which has become the most viewed Vine of the German Foreign Ministry’s channel with more than four million loops and the hashtag #SnowCialMedia. By comparison, a similar Vine of the snow-covered square in front of the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry in Vilnius only received a few thousand views.

In March 2015, The UK Foreign Office produced a hilarious series of skits on what not to do with your passport. The professionally edited videos explained that the passport is not a notepad, nor a beermat and that you should neither swim with it, or wash it and definitely not microwave it afterwards.

Vine - ForeignOffice Passport Notepad Vine - ForeignOffice Passport Beermat Vine - ForeignOffice Passport Swim Vine - ForeignOffice Passport Wash Vine - ForeignOffice Passport Microwave

Lastly, the French Foreign Ministry produced what must be the best low-budget, home-made stop motion animation and has become its most watched Vine, a conversation between two Ferrero Rocher chocolate balls who are sick of not being invited to the annual ambassadors’ conference in Paris.Vine - FranceDiplo Ferrero

10 Tips for the Perfect Vine

  • Have a rough plan of what and how you will be filming.
  • Hold the camera steady, or use a tripod.
  • Don’t zoom or pan, it rarely works on mobile devices.
  • Vary the shots: close-up, medium and wide. Note: Close-ups work best.
  • There are few one shot wonders, so edit your Vine!
  • Film several Vines, save them to the camera roll and re-import the best shots.
  • Rejig the scenes to tell a story.
  • Vines loop, hence the first shot must be totally different than the last.
  • Put your strongest shot first, it will be your video cover.
  • For more tips & tricks and how to put sound on your Vine don’t hesitate to contact us.

About this Study

World Leaders on Vine is Burson-Marsteller’s latest research into how world leaders, governments and international organizations communicate via social media. The research builds on Burson-Marsteller’s highly acclaimed annual Twiplomacy study, now in its fifth year. Initially focused solely on Twitter, the 2016 study has been expanded to other social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and more niche digital diplomacy platforms such as Snapchat, LinkedIn, Google+ and Vine.

Burson-Marsteller has identified a total of 47 Vine channels, most of which have been verified by Twitter and carry a green verification mark. Only 19 of these channels are active and the rest are either dormant for more than a year, or have never posted a Vine. Data was collected on April 6, 2016 and the full Excel data table can be downloaded here.

Thank you to Matthias Lüfkens for his ongoing strategic guidance on Twiplomacy and the World Leaders on Social Media series.

April 2016

How World Leaders use Snapchat

world-leaders-on-snapchatSnapchat is the fastest growing social media platform and, according to the latest statistics, almost two thirds of its users are aged between 13 and 24 years old, making it the ultimate platform to reach young audiences. It therefore comes as no surprise that government leaders are starting to set up accounts on the platform to reach out to future leaders.Snapchat is unique because it doesn’t indicate the number of followers, nor the number of views, of each post, which disappear after 24 hours. It is also a ‘safe’ social network for governments, as users cannot publically comment or criticize other users’ posts or profiles. Younger Snapchat users seem to prefer the social network for its easy-to-use, real-time messaging experience and its playful filters and features. For government officials and institutions, it offers a new form of casual communications and linear storytelling. According to Burson-Marsteller’s research (updated on 27 October 2017), 32 heads of state and government and 12 international organizations have set up official profiles on Snapchat. Our team identified 12 presidents and presidencies, 14 governments and prime ministers, six foreign ministries and foreign ministers who are active on the platform. Scroll down to see the full list of governmental Snapchat accounts at the end of this post.

Using Snapchat

Using Snapchat is fairly easy with its intuitive design and swiping options. Initially, the social media platform was used to share pictures and videos, which could be personalized by adding a caption limited to 80 characters or by scribbling on your post in freehand.

The most unique feature of the social media platform is the time limit on the images and videos you send. Users are only able to see your snaps for a maximum of 10 seconds, after that they will simply disappear. Replays are only possible once a day in most countries.

Snapchat Discover 00If you want your message to be shown to all of your contacts, you can post a snap to your ‘story’, which can be viewed by your followers an unlimited amount of times within 24 hours.

The photo screen is the default screen. Swipe upwards to find your friends and contacts, swipe left to chat and swipe right to see the stories of the people you follow and swipe right again to the ‘Discover’ tab with 18 publishers, including Buzzfeed, CNN and Mashable, producing tailor-made content for the platform..

Snapchat HollandeFR

Currently, there is no publically available list of government Snapchat users. If the organization is not in your contacts you will have to know the Snapchat handle or you can scan its ‘snapcode’ if it has advertised its handle on other social media sites or embedded a link on its website.

Interestingly, you cannot see how many followers a Snapchatter has. You will only be able to see the ‘Snapchat score,” which indicates a user’s level of activity, if that user follows you. And finally, you cannot like or publically comment on snaps from other users. The only way to engage with a Snapchatter is by replying privately to his or her snaps.

Some governments, such as the Polish Prime Minister (PremierRP), seem to have reserved their Snapchat handles but are not active and lack an official avatar. Snapchat does not yet verify its users, but the social media platform is planning to roll out verified accounts in the near future.

Recently Snapchat has gained huge interest through the introduction of lenses – in seconds your face can be transformed into a bunny rabbit, or you can vomit rainbows. Companies can now sponsor lenses; a recent example is the new Batman lens for the new Batman vs. Superman video.

Despite its limitations some governments have discovered Snapchat to be a formidable broadcasting tool to target a decidedly younger audience, either by chronicling the public activities of their leaders or to raise the level of public engagement at selected events. International organizations, particularly UNICEF and the European Parliament, use Snapchat to engage with their followers, often reposting their snaps. And the numbers are impressive: the UK Foreign Office reports an engagement rate of more than 60% (Snap views in comparison to followers) and a 90% completion rate (last snap views minus first snap views) of its stories.

As part of its late March 2016 updated designed to position Snapchat as a rival to Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger, the platform introduced Chat 2.0. The new feature enhances your chat experience and allows you to video chat easily, send audio notes and chat messages. This is certainly a platform to keep eye on for the future.

Who snapped first?

Snapchat UKForeignOfficeSnapchat UKForeignOfficeThe UKForeignOffice was the first foreign office to open a Snapchat account, on September 17, 2015, for the Rugby World Cup launch party and ahead of the annual Foreign Office Open House. Snapchat is a useful tool to connect users at an event and in the same location. The Foreign Office designed a virtual tour on Snapchat and asked Snapchatters on site to contribute their posts to the story. According to the Foreign Office blog, 300 new connections were made on Snapchat over that weekend alone.

Snapchat WhiteHouseThe U.S. State Department set up a Snapchat channel specifically for the COP21 conference in December 2015 in Paris, and John Kerry did his first Snapchat statement on the Mashable Snapchat account. The State Department is currently soft launching the social network at select public events.

The United-Nations Snapchat account was fairly active during COP21 UN climate conference, which was also featured as a special story with support by Snapchat staff on the ground. Watch the Snapchat video of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon meeting Leonardo DiCaprio at COP21.

The WhiteHouse started its Snapchat journey on January 11, 2016 to give its followers a behind-the-scenes look at the U.S. President’s final State of the Union address. In March 2016, the White House interns took over the account and created a story about their work to attract younger talent. In April 2016, the European Parliament ran a similar story promoting traineeships in Brussels.

In true Irish fashion, the government at MerrionStreet celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with a picture of the government building on Merrion Street lit in green. The government in Dublin celebrated the military parade for the centenary of Easter Rising on its Snapchat account, but also expressed condolences after the terrorist attacks in Brussels and flew the flag at half-mast in memory of the victims.

Snapchat WhiteHouse Intern Takeover
Snapchat MerrionStreet Flags flying at half mastSnapchat MerrionStreet St Patrick's Day
Snapchat WhiteHouse Easter Egg Roll

Snapchat being mainly used by a young audience, governments have adapted their messages to cater to the future leaders with more playful stories. The White House’s annual Easter egg roll was featured prominently on its Snapchat account, including pictures of President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama reading to their guests as well as children running around the White House lawn.

Snapchat WhiteHouse Easter Egg RollSnapchat UKForeignOffice International Women's DaySnapchat WhiteHouse International Women's Day

The celebration of International Women’s Day featured on the profiles of many. The UK Foreign Office asked its followers who their ‘Wonder Women’ were and the White House celebrated the one-year anniversary of the First Lady’s philanthropic foundation Let Girls Learn. The event, which was celebrated by many different initiatives, was documented by the White House’s Snapchat account.

Snapping State Visits

Snapchat Mauricio MacriSnapchat Mauricio MacriSnapchat WhiteHouse Obama in Argentina
Argentinian President (MauricioMacri) started his Snapchat communication during the visit of U.S. President Barack Obama to Buenos Aires on March 23, 2016. The presidential snapchat story started with the decoration and security measures all the way through to the official state dinner in the evening.

Snapchat WhiteHouse Obama in ArgentinaSnapchat Mauricio MacriSnapchat Mauricio Macri
Snapchat even published a public story titled ‘Obama Visits Argentina’ which any users could add their snaps to. The White House contributed several snaps including a picture of ‘the Beast on the move’ in Buenos Aires, referring to Barack Obama’s armored car and a picture of the Casa Rosada, Argentina’s pink equivalent to the White House.

Snapchat Mauricio Macri SecuritySnapchat HollandeFR Selfie timeSnapchat GBSveinsson
Since the Obama visit to Argentina, Mauricio Macri’s social media team has been chronicling the daily activities of the president, with numerous behind the scenes snaps of his travels including a video selfie on his plane, a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping and a close-up of the earpiece of his security staff.

Despite sub-optimal picture and video quality on Snapchat world leaders are happy to try out the social network. The social media team of the Elysée Palace chronicles all of the public engagements of French President François Hollande (HollandeFR), including his trips to French Polynesia and Argentina, and the President often pauses for the now obligatory selfies with his fans.

Iceland’s Foreign Minister Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson (GBSveinsson) became the first Foreign Minister to use Snapchat during his visit to India in April 2016 where the team posted pictures of his official meetings in landscape format, which is probably not the best format for Snapchat as it requires viewers need to turn their mobile device sideways.

Engaging Your Audience

Snapchat EuroparlSnapchat europarlSnapchat europarl
UNICEF and the European Parliament probably make the best use of the platform, directly interacting and engaging with their followers, often asking them to send their snaps and reposting the best ones.

The European Parliament (Europarl) social media team regularly shares the weekly agenda of the parliament during its plenary sessions and, every Friday, there is a weekly wrap of the week’s key highlights. The European Parliament also engages with its followers, reposting their snaps and thanking them for their contributions.

UNICEF is probably the best at Snapchat storytelling. The UN organization recently posted a series of Snapchat stories about life in Yemen’s capital, Sana’a, which hardly leave the viewer indifferent.
Snapchat UNICEF Water StorySnapchat UNICEF Water StorySnapchat UNICEF Water StorySnapchat UNICEF Water StorySnapchat UNICEF Water StorySnapchat UNICEF Water Story

Snapchat Geo-Filters

Snapchat WhiteHouse GeofilterSnapchat HhollandeFR GeofilterSnapchat StateDept
Snapchat Diplo 06 04 2016Snapchat allows users to add their own geo-filters. The social media team of the Elysée Palace overlaid the official Louvre Museum filter on the video of the Dutch Royal couple to the Paris landmark. The French Presidency has since designed its own official custom-made Elysée geofilter.The White House used the official Superbowl geo-filter on a picture of Barack Obama throwing a football into the White House gardens and the U.S. State Department created its own geo-filter for Foggy Bottom, State Department’s nickname as did the UK Foreign Office.

Top 10 Tips for Snapchat

  1. Take snaps vertically. We don’t want to turn our devices to see your snaps.
  2. Be personal, tell us what you are seeing and look into the camera at all times.
  3. Tell us a story, even if you don’t know how it will end.
  4. Engage your followers and repost their snaps.
  5. Use geo-filters so we know where you are.
  6. Splash emojis on your snaps, that’s what cool kids do.
  7. Don’t vomit rainbows, that’s what mean kids do.
  8. When filming (video), hold the device still, avoid zooming and panning.
  9. Think about a strong visual ending. The last shot is the default cover shot of your story!
  10. Follow your friends and peers, but beware @Diplo is not a diplomat.

World Leaders on Snapchat

Updated 27 October 2017





Snapchat EUCouncil

Snapchat GouvernementFR

@GuatemalaGob Snapchat



Snapchat MauricioMacri

Snapchat MerrionStreet



Snapchat Premier_RP



Snapchat PresidentIRL


Snapchat UKForeignOffice


Snapchat WhiteHouse








@JBish2016 Snapchat

International Organisations on Snapchat













@EUTrade Snapchat

About This Study

World Leaders on Snapchat is Burson-Marsteller’s latest research into how world leaders, governments and international organizations communicate via social media. The research builds on Burson-Marsteller’s highly acclaimed annual Twiplomacy study. Initially focused solely on Twitter, the 2016 study is being expanded to other social media platforms including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and more niche digital diplomacy platforms such as Snapchat, LinkedIn, Google+ and Vine.

Burson-Marsteller has identified a total of 16 Snapchat accounts of governments and international organisations. Public stories were collected in March and April 2016.

Thank you to Matthias Lüfkens for his ongoing strategic guidance on Twiplomacy and the World Leaders on Social Media series.

April 2016

Emoji Diplomacy – a new diplomatic sign language

Emojis are more than a series of smileys and other funny faces abundantly used by teenagers on social networks. These tiny, little pictograms offer an entirely new, more visual way to express complex concepts and are used more and more often by world leaders and diplomats on social media.
JuanManSantos - Emoji Tweet
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos discovered the Colombian flag emoji during the FIFA Football World Cup qualifier between Colombia and Ecuador in March 2016. His team has since used the flags for more serious tweets about regional cooperation between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
JuanManSantos - Emoji Tweet Flags
The French Foreign Ministry used the French, German and Spanish flags in a tweet about the trilateral meeting between the three ministers of European Affairs. France’s Harlem Désir and Germany’s Michael Roth regularly brighten up their tweets with flags. The French flag has almost replaced the adjective on the tweets of the French government, who is a heavy emoji user in many of its tweets.

FranceDiplo trilateral emoji tweetThe European Commission’s International Trade department @Trade_EU uses a series of emojis in its bio and has made its tweets more digestible with an average of three emojis per tweet. The Presidency of Paraguay often starts its tweets with an emoji, either to signify a link to a report ? or the agenda ? of the president. Danish Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen is a fan of the classic smiley ?, which frequently surfaces on his Twitter stream. For the record, emojis preceded by a hashtag are already searchable on Instagram.

Since late 2014 the emoji has become a standard feature in the tweets of Australia’s Foreign Minister. Julie Bishop has come under heavy criticism for her emoji interview with Buzzfeed in which she described Russian President Vladimir Putin with a single red-faced angry man emoji ?. The ‘emoji interview’ led to a very serious exchange in the Australian Senate’s Foreign Affairs committee on the use of Unicode characters in diplomatic social media communications.

Emoji Julie Bishop TweetDespite the uproar, Julie Bishop has become a master in using these small visuals. On 22 February 2016, she packed three emojis into a very serious tweet summing up Australia’s relief effort after tropical cyclone Winston hit Fiji. The fact is, in most instances, without the pictograms the message would not have fit in the 140-character limit imposed by the platform. Her tweets are a masterpiece of concision as she also mentioned Australia’s Minister of Defence, Maryse Payne, two hashtags as well as a link to the foreign minister’s website.

Emoji was voted the word of the year 2015 by the Oxford dictionary and the 1,620 characters are slowly making their entry into mainstream social media communications. The pictograms brighten dull strings of text and best of all, save characters. Emoji which literally means “picture-character” in Japanese, only by coincidence sounds like the abbreviation of emotion.

Finland-Emoji-Sauna-350x495The Finnish Foreign Ministry launched a series of country emoticons for their Christmas calendar in 2015 and some of the symbols such as the sauna symbol have been submitted for inclusion into the universal Unicode. The WWF used a series of 17 animal emojis for its #EndangeredEmojis campaign in 2015. As a result, the gorilla and the rhinoceros will soon make their entry in the universal Unicode.

The World Health Organisation trialed an interesting emoji on World Toilet Day which, put in words, would hardly have made it into their tweet.WHO - Shitty emoji

Diplomats can chose from 257 flags of countries and territories and there is a bewildering choice of 1,363 other emojis. Since the tiny symbols are not easily recognizable on a smartphone or a tablet, it is worth checking their meaning on the website which helps find the appropriate symbol that fits your purpose and emotion.