UPDATE – #Talkdigital blogging competition: you could be a speaker at EuroPCom 2014!

The recent European elections have been an excellent opportunity to reflect on the direction we want the EU to take. So we have a question for you – how do you think the EU could better communicate with citizens digitally? If you could suggest one big thing about European digital communication what would that be?

Share your ideas in this blogging competition! The winning idea will be published on this blog and the author will be invited to speak at EuroPCom2014. You can submit your entry until 15 June 2014.

Send your entry by email to the Commission’s social media team with the subject “#TALKDIGITAL BLOGGING COMPETITION” or leave us a comment to this post. Continue reading “UPDATE – #Talkdigital blogging competition: you could be a speaker at EuroPCom 2014!”

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?”

Why digital diplomacy is not a thing (yet)


Some time ago I had the chance to participate in a very good seminar chaired by Jon Worth a well-known communication consultant in Brussels. The seminar revolved around the topic of public diplomacy and the digitalization of international relations.

One of the first things that came up in the event was the “attempt” to define public or digital diplomacy. I say “attempt” because indeed there seems to be quite a lot of confusion about what this practice should be and most importantly how digital diplomacy should be carried out.

A common definition in international relations presents public diplomacy or people’s diplomacy as the communication with foreign publics to establish a dialogue designed to inform and influence. Another definition that came up from the previously mentioned seminar was “it’s what Carl Bildt does. Another expert on the field, Andreas Sandre explains in his latest piece for the Huffington Post how digital diplomacy has been “redefining itself since its inception…It has evolved from 140 characters to a myriad of opportunities embedded in the very nature of the digital era, from crowdsourcing to big data. While we have not yet outgrown Twitter and Facebook — still key ingredients for any government’s digital strategy — foreign policy is fast moving towards more innovative ways to change its elitist undertones and become a truly participatory, collaborative forum.” You should also check out Crowdsourcing tips and ideas for digital diplomacy where Andreas collects tips, definitions and recommendations from digital diplomacy experts.

However, according to this definition we end up defining digital diplomacy merely as the adaptation of diplomacy to new communication technologies which have not really affected diplomacy per se but have simply modified the way people are reached by diplomatic bodies, institutions and representatives.

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What most people call “digital diplomacy” for the large part I would call “public affairs” or even simply broadcasting. This is why digital diplomacy is just not a thing yet. There are perhaps a few Scandinavian diplomats who are using social media and web 2.0 tools to really engage among their diplomatic circles and directly with the citizens, one above all, Mr Alex Stubb. However, these people represent maybe 0.01% of the 77.7% governments of the 193 UN member countries that have a presence on Twitter.

During and after the negotiations of the Congress of Vienna in 1815 I suppose that Klemens Wenzel von Metternich communicated with Viscount Castlereagh and Tsar Alexander I orally and via documents printed on paper possibly sealed with wax stamps. When world leaders started communicating via phone, did political scientists start talking about “telephonic diplomacy?” The question here is rhetoric. David Cameron uses Twitter, so does newly appointed Italian PM Matteo Renzi and so … is this digital diplomacy? Obviously not.

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A different role though is played by embassies and other diplomatic bodies who more and more provide useful information to citizens but still are very much constrained by their own lines to take and bureaucracy. Also, they mostly limit themselves to broadcasting ans little engagement. Nonetheless, they are not to be blamed for this. They do provide a valuable service to citizens worldwide.

Seeing the challenge I started asking experts to share their definitions and put them up together in a Twitter custom timeline which I will keep updating as new definitions are shared. You can share your definition using the hashtag #digidipis

Share yours too!

So, what is #digitaldiplomacy for you?

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.