A response to Kosmopolito’s “The inconvenient truth about social media and #ep2014”


Kosmopolito is one of the best bloggers in the eurobubble. He recently wrote The inconvenient truth about social media and #ep2014 which I find a very good and punchy piece on one of the main events of 2014 in Europe. Although I disagree to some extent, I think it is laudable that experts in the field are openly feeding the debate. In his article he points out “10 simple truths about social media and the #ep2014.” See my comments below each point. It would have been complicated to put all this in a blog comment so I preferred writing a dedicated blogpost about it.

1. Social media will only help a few MEPs that have already invested heavily  in their individual social media presences. Using social media  during campaigns may look good – but only a long term commitment can deliver sustainable results. It’s simple:  be authentic, build relationships and engage your audience. But: Using social media in a bad way is worse than not using it at all. Think about it!

1. I don’t find the first point convincing, I actually think it debunks your assumptions. “Social media will only help a few MEPs that have already invested heavily in their individual social media presences.” You are basically saying that the MEPs who have invested on social media will have an advantage compared to those who haven’t. Doesn’t this mean “having an impact?” This is for instance very visible in Italy where the EP elections will be (maybe coincidentally) lead by the two leaders and parties that have the highest followerships and highest levels of investment and engagement on social media.

2.  We live in an echo chamber – the bubble is talking to itself. Nobody listens to voices with a different opinion. You only follow stuff you already like. Result: Social media is not a helpful tool for complex political debates. Welcome to the filter bubble!

2. I disagree to a certain extent. “Following” somebody doesn’t’ necessary mean to agree with that person or institution. However, it is true for most (not all) people, that we live in a social media self-built echo chamber.

3. 75 % of Europeans still get their political information on Europe from TV. “The Internet” is  only the 4th most important resource for political information – and the preferred information sources on the internet are “information websites” – not social media.

4. Social media does not reach people who are already disengaged from politics. And even if there is more engagement it does not translate into a higher voter turnout. Statistically, young people are more engaged on social media but their interest / engagement in the political process is  falling – both  at the national and European level. Suggesting that social media will boost the turnout of young voters may be a false correlation.

4. Disagree. The demonstration of the opposite is still visible in Italy. People who are disengaged and most importantly disillusioned by politics are reached by new political movements which use social media extensively (i.e. Pirate party, and most ALDE) Continue reading “A response to Kosmopolito’s “The inconvenient truth about social media and #ep2014””

EU Heads of Government on Facebook: who’s scoring best?


After releasing the ranking of EU Heads of government on  Twitter I thought I should not stop there and I should also check their presence on the most populated social media: Facebook.

As I explained in the previous post, the communication strategies of EU Heads of Government vary greatly. Some Prime Ministers are not on social media, some are just on Twitter, some are just on Facebook some are on both platforms.

For instance Bohuslav Sobotka and Jyrki Katainen do not have an official personal presence on either platform, while David Cameron, Matteo Renzi and Mariano Rajoy are on both. Angela Merkel, Werner Faymann and Helle Thorning-Schmidt are  not on Twitter but they do have a Facebook page while the opposite applies to Nicos Anastasiades, Victor Ponta and  Joseph Muscat (see full table below. Data as of 25/03/2014)

European_Heads_of_state_Facebook

As we can see from the table above, out of the 19 Heads of Government on Facebook, 10 are actually verified. Some well-known public figures and Pages with large followings are verified by Facebook as having an authentic identity. You’ll see a blue badge next to a verified profile or Page’s name. Facebook verifies profiles or Pages to help you be sure that they are who they claim to be.

European_Heads_of_state_Facebook

As we can see from the chart above, as for Twitter, Matteo Renzi is the most followed (or “liked”) EU head of government on Facebook with 628.360 likes, followed by Chancellor Merkel (who does not have a personal Twitter account) with 517.415 and Président Hollande with 448.191 likes (Hollande is also the second most followed Twitter account for an EU Head of Government). David Cameron, who has the third most followed Twitter account, is in 6th position in this ranking.

Continue reading “EU Heads of Government on Facebook: who’s scoring best?”

Personal Twitter accounts of European Prime Ministers: who’s scoring best?


Twiplomacy already does an incredible job in assessing the presence of world leaders on Twitter. What I want to show you today is a brief overview of how European Heads of Government perform on Twitter in terms of followers, Klout score and in terms of fake followers. Just to be clear, I refer to “Heads of Government”  and not “Heads of state.”

Followers aren’t everything, as I have already advocated in a recent post discussing the presence of the European Commission on social media. However, this ranking gives you an indication of the popularity of certain world leaders on Twitter in comparison to others.

Out of the 28 heads of states in the members of the European Union, 16 have a personal presence on Twitter. These people have a presence on Twitter independently from their position. David Cameron will always be Mr. David Cameron even  after his mandate as British Prime Minister will be over and the same applies for instance to Francois Hollande. Some governments such as Greece and The Netherlands use an account for their Prime Minister regardless of who occupies this position. In the case for instance of Italy, you can see both the account of newly elected Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and of whoever sits at Palazzo Chigi although in this case the account is basically the voice on Twitter of their press office.

I assume that the choice around which Twitter strategy to adopt depends partly on the political system. In fact it wouldn’t make much sense to implant the Dutch approach in Italy which is de facto the most unstable political system in the world (62 different governments in 68 years).

With no further ado, here is the ranking of European Heads of Government with a personal presence on Twitter ordered by Twitter followers (data as of 05/03/2014)

European_Prime_Ministers_Twitter

Newly-“elected” PM Renzi is by far the most followed European Head of State with 931K followers, followed by Monsieur Hollande with 613k and David Cameron with 608k. I say “elected” between quotation marks because I was not particularly happy with the way the new government was appointed.

The tweet above was also quoted as tweet of the week by ViEUws

Fake followers represent a common threat for the popularity of public and political figures on social media. I made an analysis based on Fakers, a tool that detects the amount of fake followers an account has. Here are the results by net followers. You can’t really prove and be 100% sure that somebody has bought fake followers. However, when you get very high rates of fake followers (like in the first 4 cases listed below) the question is at least legitimate but not assetive.

This point is quite interesting in the Italian political sphere where former comedian and current leader of the Movimento 5 Stelle Beppe Grillo largely bases his political campaign on his “alleged” digital popularity. The truth is that only 9-6% of Mr Grillo’s 1.4 million followers as considered “good” by Fakers. Anyway, here is the ranking.

Polish PM Donald Tusk‘s followers are fake by 62%. Matteo Renzi follows with 43% and Belgian Prime Minister Di Rupo is just behind with 38%.

European_Prime_Ministers_Twitter

Here is the ranking of the accounts ordered by their percentage of net followers. Fake followers don’t seem to have changed the order in this ranking.

European_Prime_Ministers_TwitterKlout is the first company really to nail down a measurement algorithm and to assign a number to people based on their perceived social influence. . Read more about it in one of my previous articles. Here is the ranking of European Heads of Government ordered by Klout score

European_Prime_Ministers_Twitter

As we can see, David Cameron displays an impressive score of 92, followed by Hollande with 88 and Di Rupo with 87

UPDATE 15/03/2014

Thanks to Twiplomacy, I found out that @zoranmilanovi, @regeringschefen and @abratusek are fake or unofficial accounts. The tables have been updated accordingly.