Who owns your national Twitter handle?

Wouldn’t it be great if your government owned the English name of your country on Twitter? You could proudly @mention your country or support your national team with a tweet.

Today all English-language country names have been registered on Twitter; however, only 23 governments and state tourism boards have secured their English-language country name on Twitter, up from only nine, four years ago.

The vast majority of the 193 national country accounts are still owned by private individuals, who had the bright idea to register the country names in the early days of Twitter. Between 2006 and 2009, there was a Twitter land grab, similar to the .com domain frenzy in the 1990s, of brand and country accounts. Only 86 national accounts are actively used and all others are either dormant, inactive, protected or have been suspended by Twitter.

Most governments and tourist boards have set up official accounts to promote their country, but they were unable to register their country name. @ThisIsFinland is the highly successful country promotion of the Finnish government. However, the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs was not able to recover the @Finland. Likewise, Denmark’s gateway on Twitter is @Denmarkdotdk, while @Denmark was registered by an unknown user and is inactive.

Owning your country name on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram is more than just a nice vanity URL to have. By having the country Twitter handle, each government literally ‘owns’ every @mention of its country and is thus part of the digital discussions about its country on these platforms.

Twenty-three governments and state tourism boards have secured their country name in English on Twitter. Most of these governments use the country account for promotional purposes; @Argentina and @Uruguay have given the handle to the national football teams, and in @Sweden and @Ireland private citizens are taking turns to manage the account on a weekly basis in what has become known as ‘rotation-curation.’

Click here to read the entire Twiplomacy Country Promotion Study 2016