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5 Lessons You Can Learn From World Leaders on Twitter

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Twitter has become an indispensable diplomatic networking and communication tool. According to the new study Twiplomacy, more than half of the world’s foreign ministers and their institutions are active on the social networking site. Here are five lessons from our world leaders on Twitter.

1. Digital Diplomacy

More than 3,100 embassies and ambassadors are now active on Twitter. Foreign ministers and foreign ministries are all following each other and have created what can be termed a virtual diplomatic network on Twitter. The Swedish Foreign Ministry has been leading efforts to promote #DigitalDiplomacy. The Swedish Foreign Ministry invited 30 digital diplomats from around the world to the Stockholm Initiative for Digital Diplomacy (#SIDD). The initial meeting in Stockholm has given birth to a diplomatic network of social media practitioners who are exchanging ideas on how to develop the use of digital tools beyond social media and coordinating digital campaigns beyond their own network.

2. Size Matters

Size really matters: The meteoric rise in following of Indian PM Narendra Modi and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono show that leaders of the most populous countries clearly have an advantage over others.

3. But Size Isn’t Everything

Having the most followers does not mean a political figure will be more influential. Although President Obama has by far the most followers, in comparison to other political figures he gets fewer retweets, averaging around 1,442 per post. Pope Francis (@Pontifex) is the most influential world leader on Twitter. His Spanish tweets are retweeted on average more than 10,000 times each, and the tweets of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro are retweeted more than 2,000 times.

4. Connect with Your Peers

Foreign ministers and their institutions are focusing on mutual connections with their peers. For example, in September 2013 the State Department started to follow 22 other foreign offices. Being mutually connected on Twitter allows these leaders to direct message each other and to have private conversations. A number of foreign offices have used this channel to reach out to peers and other influencers to set the record straight or to coordinate their digital outreach.

5. Have Personal Conversations with Your Followers

African leaders seem to use Twitter solely to converse with their followers. Ugandan Prime Minister @AmamaMbabazi is the most conversational world leader with 95 percent of his tweets being @replies to other Twitter users. The second most conversational leader is Rwanda’s President @PaulKagame who often gets into memorable Twitter exchanges with his critics.




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