And the winner for the most retweeted person on Twitter goes to… President Obama? Oh yes! In the presidential elections of 2008 Obama hit the ground running on not only his political campaign, but social media endeavors as well. As Twitter continues to be a useful outlet for him and many other American celebrities, many Central European and Eastern European politicians are fighting to stay relevant and consistent and the “tweetosphere.”
One issue that many politicians around the world are facing is the ability to tweet for themselves. Many have PR specialist controlling their twitters, tweeting boring and generic information. If we learned anything from guest speaker Ryan Koch’s is that it is most important to send engaging tweets that do not sound forced or robotic. According to Phillip Köker, a PhD candidate at UCL-SEES (UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies), many CEE EU politicians, have been struggling with finding a balance on this “new” communicating technology.
Estonian and former Russian presidents, Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Dimitrii Medvedev seem to have a handle on their “handles” by taking the time to write back and interact with there thousands to millions of followers. Making it easier to relate by posting pictures or their every activities and even bits of comedy. But others simply do not have the time or capacity leaving their twitter accounts up to the professionals for example Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych or Slovakia Prime Minister Robert Fico.
Twitter has evolved to be an important role in many social occurrences, such as promoting events, spreading awareness, and connecting with those who otherwise would seem out of reach. There has become a world called the tweetosphere and this world comes with a type of etiquette and way of speaking. What stands out to me is the fact that no matter your social status or professional opinion there is a request and sometimes even a demand for one to showcase their personality. This is reflected by the example of how many Central and Eastern European politicians have given up on Twitter because of their lack of time to interact and commit to spending personal time. Even going as far to set up “office time” for responding to tweets, reveals Köker.
While many Central and Eastern European politicians prefer to stick to traditional media to spread their policies and ideas, I do not see the harm in the attempt to embrace twitter and the twitter world. It has proven to be difficult to maintain, I feel that by opening up on twitter there can be a better flow of communication between the people and the government. I see Twitter as a social media outlet worth setting up “office time” in order to let those who do not know these politicians personally a voice and personality to build greater support and trust, like it did for President Obama.
Köker goes on further to explain two reasons as to why Twitter has not taken off in the political world of Eastern Europe by addressing the fact that one, the spontaneity and rapid interaction on twitter, that is present in the west is missing from the East due to lack in smartphone mobility. Also, due the limited audience that can be reached due to the vast language barriers especially with in 140 characters. Yes, these factors can be a challenge, but with time I feel that many could use Twitter to its full potential, if these politicians take the time to invest in understanding the “new world.”
Many have fears about the effects of social media on society and how it is shaping our world. But by the examples set by many politicians in the West social media platforms, maybe the most effective if not only way to truly connect with others that maybe out of reach, such as the politicians. By adopting Twitter as a tool, I feel that the politicians of Central and European Europe will benefit greatly in and out side the political world.