“Looking at the findings, it becomes clear that few governments and tourism organisations have understood the power of country branding and marketing on Twitter,” Matthias Lüfkens, head of the Burson-Marsteller Europe, Middle-East and Africa Digital Practice, said in a press release. “There is a huge opportunity for countries to use Twitter as part of their communications to engage with a large and growing audience.”
The nine countries that officially control their own names on Twitter are @AntiguaBarbuda, @Barbados, @GreatBritain, @Israel, @Lithuania, @Maldives, @SouthAfrica, @Spain and @Sweden.
According to analysis of those nine accounts, Israel is the most popular country on Twitter, with more than 67,000 followers. The @Israel account is managed by the Foreign Ministry's Digital Diplomacy Team.
Sweden's account is the second most popular, and prompted the rotation-curation movement of putting the official handle under the control of a random citizen for a week at a time that has been copied by @Ireland and @NewZealand. That experiment has proven popular, although it invited controversy in the past.
All English-language country names are registered on Twitter, although only a third of them (71 accounts) are actively used. Most are dormant (43 accounts), inactive (30 accounts), protected (13 accounts) or suspended (36 accounts), the study found.
Both @UnitedStates and @USA are registered to private individuals, although the administration does run the account @USAgov.
The study builds upon a previous "Twiplomacy" survey that found almost two-thirds of world leaders use Twitter. President Obama was the first head of state to start tweeting and is still the most popular, the July study found.