Commissioners on Twitter: how are they doing?

The European Commission, and Commissioners themselves, have progressively taken to Twitter over the past couple of years as a way of communicating with (at?) EU citizens. So how are they doing? This blog entry gives a quick summary. My starting point is that a good Twitter account is an engaging and personal one, where either a person’s views shine through, or a dialogue is established with followers.

First of all, here are the numbers. I include Klout scores here not because I am especially a fan of Klout, but because it gives an alternative take beyond the followers/follower number.

Commissioner Followers Following Klout score Is it them? Likelihood of a reply or RT? (0-10) Political insight? (0-10)
@CHedegaardEU 11448 183 64 Claims to be 1 (only if you’re official) 4
@GOettingerEU 683 39 55 Him and team 5 (replies to ordinary people) 3 (very few tweets so far)
@APiebalgsEU 7159 273 60 Him and team 0 3
@NeelieKroesEU 55174 836 83 Her and team 8 (quantity of tweets, followers prevents more) 7
@VassiliouEU 2712 66 58 Doesn’t say, but feels honest 5 4
@LaszloAndorEU 4747 102 59 Says team, but is sometimes personal 1 (only if you’re official) 7 (sometimes edgy)
@StefanFuleEU 3807 11 57 Him and team 1 (only if you’re official) 3
@JanezPotocnikEU 9667 205 67 Claims to be 6 (replies to ordinary people) 5 (somewhat random)
@MalmstromEU 6945 223 62 Initials tell you if it’s CM or staff 7 (it’s friendly too) 7
@AntonioTajaniEU 3130 195 61 Doesn’t say, but could be him 4 (helps to be Italian) 5
@MarosSefcovic 1985 201 54 Doesn’t say, but could be him 6 (replies to ordinary people) 5
@MBarnierEU 15427 616 80 Him and team (it says) 0 2 (mostly news)
@KGeorgievaEU 7701 481 77 Doesn’t say, but feels honest 3 7 (good content)
@VivianeRedingEU 14983 369 81 Her and team (it says) 0 2 (mostly news)
@MariaDamanakiEU 4855 524 59 Claims to be, feels honest 1 (only if you’re official) 6
@BarrosoEU 18415 1209 72 Team, and /JMB supposed to be him 1 (only if you’re official) 2 (mostly news)
@ASemetaEU 1339 218 53 Doesn’t say, but could be him 1 (only if you’re official) 4 (FTT stuff is OK)
@SiimKallasEU 5036 184 59 Him and team (it says) 1 (RTs if you’re official) 2 (mostly news)

Not on Twitter: Catherine Ashton, Olli Rehn, Joaquín Almunia [UPDATE 15.11.12: he has started on Twitter here – just 18 tweets currently though, so cannot analyse], Karel De Gucht, John Dalli / Tonio Borg, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Johannes Hahn [UPDATE 27.1.13: Hahn has now started officially on Twitter @JHahnEU, 8 tweets at the time of writing], Dacian Cioloş. Numbers correct as of 12th November 2012. Columns 6, 7: my own personal opinions.

We can then group the Commissioners into 4 groups.

1) The Master – Neelie Kroes remains far ahead of the rest on every measure. She commands more than 55k followers, while no other Commissioner is beyond 20k, has developed her own style, and is happy to reply and retweet regularly. She is an example, even beyond Brussels, of how a high level politician should use Twitter. The account is also a fair and accurate reflection of her as a person.

2) The Engagers – Potocnik, Malmström, Andor, Georgieva, Damanaki, Tajani. These Commissioners are using Twitter in ways that somehow make effective use of the medium. Either their shows their personal views on issues, or builds discussion with people in and around Brussels and beyond. However none of these accounts has broken the 10k follower barrier – follow them if you’re reading this, because either you’ll see the personal side of the politician, or gain some political insight.

3) The Learners – Oettinger, Šefčovič, Vassiliou, Semeta. These Commissioners have the potential to join The Engagers, but for the moment their follower numbers are low and they have not fully found a role on Twitter.

4) The Broadcasters – Barroso, Reding, Kallas, Barnier, Füle, Piebalgs, Hedegaard. These Commissioners use Twitter as just another broadcast medium. Do not expect any Retweet or Reply, nor much political insight. If you use Twitter to just follow the news then these accounts might be useful, but engaging they are not.

7 thoughts on “Commissioners on Twitter: how are they doing?

  1. From the horse’s mouth, re Sefcovic – he tweets maybe 70% himself, the remaining 30% (mostly just extracts from speechs) are by me, at his request. We’re committed to answering all questions too, though we don’t get many at the moment – MS keen to become an Engager!!

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