Can Monarchs’ Twitter accounts serve as a public diplomacy medium?

The end of World War 2 saw the decline and ultimate abolition of most European Monarchies. By 1945, the majority of European nations had either exiled their Monarch or transitioned towards various forms of constitutional Monarchies. Yet while the remaining Monarchs may have lost their hard power resources (i.e., their status as sovereigns) they soon transformed into Soft Power assets for their nations. For instance, the British Monarchy still captivates millions of people throughout the world who flock each year to Buckingham Palace. It is even estimated that some 3.2 billion people watched the televised broadcast of Princes Diana’s funeral while Prince William’s wedding attracted another 2 billion global viewers. Such televised events attest to the British Monarchy’s contribution to the UK’s diplomatic prestige and its ability to brand itself as a major global player.

While European Monarchs may have lost their divine rights, the same is not true of Middle Eastern Monarchs who remain the leaders of their nations. Such is the case with King Salman of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah of Jordan and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

Recently, both constitutional and absolute Monarchs have migrated to social media such as Twitter and Facebook. In this week’s blog post I attempted to analyze the extent to which online Monarchs are able to attract large number of followers to their Twitter accounts. By so doing I aimed to explore the potential use of Monarchs’ Twitter accounts as a public diplomacy medium through which a nation can promote its brand and foreign policy objectives.

In order to conduct such an analysis I first endeavored to identify Monarchs’ Twitter accounts. This was a relatively difficult task as many Monarchies do not operate official websites nor do their respective MFAs (ministries of foreign affairs) include links to Monarchical social media accounts. Eventually I was able to identify 13 Twitter accounts of European and Middle Eastern Monarchs.  These accounts may be seen in the table below.

monarch 1.png

Once I had my sample of Monarchs, I analyzed the number of followers each Monarch attracts to his  Twitter account. The results of this analysis may be seen in the two graphs below.

monarch 2.png

monarch 3.png

As can be seen in the graphs above, with the exception of Margrethe of Denmark and the Grand Ducal Court of Luxembourg, all Monarchs are able to attract a sizable audience of more than 50,000 followers. As graph 2 indicates, 6 of the 13 Monarchical accounts attract more than a million followers. The average Monarch on twitter is able to attract nearly 1.5 million followers. Thus, Monarchs are more popular on Twitter than most UN embassies, NATO missions and foreign ministers.

It should be noted that most Middle Eastern Monarchs outperform their European peers. As can be seen in table 2, the Emir of Dubai, the Queen of Jordan and King Salman of Saudi Arabia attract the most followers of all Monarchs evaluated. This may be explained by the fact that Middle Eastern Monarchs remain the rulers of their countries as opposed to European constitutional Monarchs.

The apparent online popularity of Monarchs prompted me to compare their number of followers with that of their respective MFAs. This analysis may be seen in the two graphs below.

monarch 4.png

monarch 10

As can be seen, with the exception of Monaco and Bahrain, Monarchs attract far more Twitter followers than their foreign ministries. For instance, the Spanish MFA attracts some 4,000 followers as opposed to the Spanish Royal Family that is followed by more than 500,000 followers. Similarly, the Jordanian Royal Court is followed by some 300,000 Twitter followers as opposed to the Jordanian MFA that attracts some 89,000 followers.

It should be noted that both European and Middle Eastern Monarchs are more popular online than their MFAs as is evident in the case of the UK, Belgium, Norway and the Netherlands.

Next, I attempted to evaluate the extent to which Monarchs are followed by MFAs. Should Monarchs attract foreign ministries, their social media accounts may serve as mediums for diplomatic signaling. To conduct this analysis, I used a sample of 69 MFAs throughout the world that are active on Twitter.  The number of MFAs following each Monarch in my sample may be seen in the graph below.

monacrh 6

The average Monarch is followed by 5.3 MFAs out of a possible 69. While this may seem like a relatively small number, this analysis suggests that Monarchs attract more MFAs than NATO missions and UN embassies.

Notably, Middle Eastern Monarchs attract more MFAs than European ones. While the average number of MFAs following a European monarch on Twitter is 4.2, the average number of MFAs following a Middle Eastern Monarch is 7.3. However, as the table above shows, it is the British Monarchy that attracts the largest number of MFAs.

Next I examined the number of journalists and media outlets that follow Monarchs on Twitter. To do so, I used a sample of 538 newspapers, media outlets and journalists. Notably, the majority of media outlets and journalists in this sample are foreign affairs editors and diplomatic correspondents. The results of this analysis may be seen in the graph below.

monarch 7

The average Monarch is able to attract 12 journalist and media outlets to his/her Twitter account. This figure suggests that Monarchs attract more journalists than NATO missions, UN embassies and even US Presidential Candidates. Moreover, journalists seem to follow both European and Middle Eastern Monarchs. Lastly, as can be seen in the graph above, the British Monarchy rules supreme on Twitter as its attracts the most media interest of all Monarchs evaluated.

Given the apparent popularity of Monarchs among foreign affairs correspondents and media outlets, my final analysis compared between the number of journalists following Monarchs and the number of journalists following their MFAs. This analysis is shown below.

monarch 8

As can be seen, 10 out of the 16 Monarchs evaluated attract more journalists and media outlets than their respective MFAs. Such is the case with all Middle Eastern Monarchs with the exception of Crown Prince of Bahrain. Among European Monarchies, the royal accounts of the Netherlands, Monaco, Norway and Spain attract more media attention than their respective MFAs.

Summary

In this post I attempted to evaluate the possible use of Monarchical Twitter accounts as a Public Diplomacy medium. Results suggest that Monarchs are quite popular online. Monarchial accounts attract more followers than MFAs, UN embassies and NATO missions. Moreover, Monarchs seem to attract more journalists and media outlets than their respective MFAs. As such, it may be possible to utilize such accounts in order to shape the national image, promote national culture and even engage in dialogue with foreign populations. Notably, Middle Eastern Monarchs seem to outperform their European peers possibly due to the fact that most European Monarchs are constitutional ones. However, the British Monarchy seems to rule supreme on social media.

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