Ever since Barack Obama’s successful use of social media to boost his campaigning efforts, Eastern European politicians are now taking it to Twitter as well.
Delivering 140 character messages to supporters of their campaigns have proven to be short, sweet, but influential. As Eastern Europe is gradually catching up with the world on technology, their politicians have started to take advantage of social media tools, but with mixed outcomes.
Anyone can be a twitter user, but it’s not easy to be successful. What’s the Estonian president, Toomas Hendrink, not doing right? He constantly tweets interesting topics and gives his views about policy statements, in addition to constantly interacting with his followers. In contrast, Medvedev, with 1.9 million followers, mostly tweets luxurious pictures from state visits and interactions with celebrities. I personally find this very interesting, but this could also be due to the limited amount of citizens in Estonia compared to Russia, and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict.
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Most of the government is usually too busy to handle their twitter accounts and hire public relation experts to take over. However, constant posts to links without a direct interaction with their followers will usually lead to a lower follower count.
“Twitter is more than a means of communicating with voters and reaching new audiences. The example of Mlađan Dinkić @mladjad, Serbia’s Minister of Economy and Finance, shows that tweets can have actual political consequences. During the budget debate last November, Dinkić tweeted a picture of the empty opposition benches in parliament.” (UCL)
That particular tweet might have gained him a lot of criticism, but it provided exposure to the matter and the seats were definitely filled up at the next session. Simple tweets like these from politicians evidently have an impact and might even improve the quality of the government.
Twitter can also be a very time consuming tool of social media, with notifications and updates to the Twitter feed coming in every few seconds. It is definitely extremely hard to maintain without a core team of members. This was proven by the shut down of twitter accounts of the Ukranian and Slovakian political figures due to various reasons. I think in a decade, the Eastern European hemisphere can definitely make use of social media tools to support their campaign. However, due to the economic status and technology made available to its citizens, I’m not sure if the countries are ready for such online marketing compared to traditional methods of campaigning.
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