Who Should Manage the @EU Twitter Account?

The two-letter Twitter handle is literally priceless

Twitter regularly suspends accounts which violate its terms of service, and recently it removed millions of inactive accounts which were created via SMS, a feature which is no longer supported. Among the disabled accounts are much sought-after country names including @Italy, @Turkey, @Switzerland, the @UK.

The permanent suspension of these accounts means that only Twitter can retrocede these accounts to their respective governments should they request the handle. Over the past decade, 30 governments have reclaimed their country’s name such as @Australia, @Canada, @Israel, @Lithuania, @Ukraine, @Russia, @SouthAfrica, among others, for country promotion on the platform.

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The two-letter @EU Twitter handle was suspended in April 2020

Among the recently suspended accounts is  the two-letter @EU-handle, the acronym of the European Union, a political and economic union of 27 member states. It goes without saying that a two-letter Twitter handle is literally priceless. The @EU handle is particularly powerful since it is not only an abbreviation but also functions as an adjective, and its hashtag, #EU, is already widely used on social media platforms with 1.66 million mentions on Twitter since January 1, 2020, according to Meltwater.com.

Chart showing the negative sentiment of #EU mentions in 2020
Countering negativity: an @EU handle could help counterbalance the negative sentiment of #EU mentions in 2020 so far

There are very few high-profile two-letter Twitter accounts; they include  @AP, the account of the Associated Press, @UN, the account of the United Nations, @VP, the official account of the U.S. Vice President and the companies @EA, @HM; @HP and @VW. Since 2015 Twitter has banned the creation of accounts with fewer than four letters but Twitter would be well advised to allow the retrocession of the @EU account to the European Union which does, after all, represent 447 million European citizens.

But the most crucial question is: Who should manage the flagship @EU Twitter account?

Should it be managed by the @EU_Commission, the @EUCouncil, the European External Action Service (@EU_eeas) or the rotating presidency of the EU Council currently in the hands of Croatia? Should any of these organisations rename their handle to simply @EU? Probably not because it would only confuse and mislead their followers.

There is not a single EU leader, nor EU institution, which could pretend to speak for all Europeans or to tweet for all of Europe. However, the @EU Twitter account could become a mirror of the EU’s diversity, showcasing the best the EU has to offer across the arts, culture, sport and travel (for when that eventually does return).  

The @EU account could be managed by a different European influencer each week: Not a political leader or policymaker, but an outstanding musician, mathematician, a teacher, a health worker, an athlete; in short, any European leading cultural figure could become the European Tweep of the Week and manage the account. Obviously, each candidate would be carefully vetted and trained before managing the account and share the EU story from his/her perspective. A similar kind of rotation-curation has been successfully pioneered by the @Sweden account from 2011 to 2018 but this would bring it to the next level.

Mock-up of the @EU Twitter account
Mock-up of the @EU Twitter account

The @EU Twitter account must not be political but multi-national and multi-ethnic. It should be a visually driven Twitter feed, something of a cross between the excellent promotional accounts of @Australia, @Israel and @Spain.

The aim is to create a Twitter feed that all Europeans would want to follow and can be proud of. If managed well, the @EU Twitter account could even become the world’s most followed Twitter account.

Who should take up the @EU Twitter account?