One 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