Only nine governments out of the 193 UN member states own their country name Twitter handle, according to the second installment of the Twiplomacy study conducted by Burson-Marsteller and looking at country branding on Twitter.
@GreatBritain, @Israel, and @Sweden are notable examples of nations promoting themselves on Twitter.
@GreatBritain is part of the “Britain is Great” campaign launched in March 2012 to highlight everything that is great about the United Kingdom.
@Israel is the country’s official Twitter channel, maintained by the Foreign Ministry's Digital Diplomacy Team. The account is one of the most followed country accounts with more than 66,000 followers and serves as the focal point for Israel’s government Twitter activity.
The Swedish government has given its official Twitter handle to the people. Every week another Swede is in charge of the @Sweden account sharing recommendations, opinions and facts about life in Sweden with over 65,000 followers. That “Curators of Sweden” project was launched in December 2011 and has been copied with varying success by @Ireland and @NewZealand.
The Twitter accounts of @AntiguaBarbuda, @Barbados, @Lithuania, the @Maldives, @SouthAfrica, and @Spain are run by their respective official tourism organisations to promote tourism in each country.
However, three out of five country accounts are either protected, dormant, inactive, or suspended and almost half of the 71 remaining active accounts are tweeting an automated news feed broadcasting news about the country.
“Looking at the findings it becomes clear that few governments and tourism organisations have understood the power of country branding and marketing on Twitter,” says Matthias Lüfkens, head of the Burson-Marsteller EMEA digital practice. “There is a huge opportunity for countries to use Twitter as part of their communications to engage with a large and growing audience.”