Twitter Accounts of the Ukrainian Government: Follow-Up?

One can only wonder how Ukrainian ministries can design and implement reforms while ignoring some of the most powerful tools of communication

Authors:

Yuriy Gorodnichenko, UC Berkeley, Tymofiy Mylovanov, U. of Pittsburgh, Oleksandr Talavera, U. of Sheffield, members of the Editorial Board of VoxUkraine, and Olena Talavera

About a week ago, Ukrainian Pravda and VoxUkraine published an article, which explained the importance of communication by the government and its vital role in shaping public opinion. It presented examples of unprofessional administration of Twitter accounts in the Ukrainian government.Since the publication of the original article we observe some positive changes.

While the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Internal Affairs remain among the most active Twitter users, the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Information showed some progress. Some Ministries still do not have their Twitter accounts. The Ministry of Regional Development has joined this list by deleting its Twitter account. One can only wonder how a ministry can design and implement reforms while ignoring some of the most powerful tools of communication.

About a week ago, Ukrainian Pravda published an article about how Ukrainian ministries use Twitter accounts. An English version of this paper was later published on VoxUkraine. The article explained the importance of communication by the government and its vital role in shaping public opinion. It presented examples of unprofessional administration of Twitter accounts in the Ukrainian government.

In this post, we describe some of the changes to the government Twitter accounts that have occurred since the publication of the original article. We also provide new insights into the popularity of Twitter accounts.

The same day the article was published, the Ministry of Regional Development deleted its Twitter account (see the screenshot below). The broken link to their account is still on the ministry’s website. It is interesting that this specific ministry has decided to remove their account instead of improving it.

A number of ministries have cleaned up or fixed their Twitter accounts. The Ministry of Information also contacted Ukrainian Pravda to clarify some details.

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There has been no change in the account of the Ministry of Education. The latest post on their Twitter account is dated by 14 September 2011. However, they actively post news on their website.

Table 1. Time zone and languages change of twitter user profiles

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We observe some positive changes. For example, the Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Information, Ministry of Infrastructure and Ministry of Justice changed time zone to “Kyiv”. The Ministry of Infrastructure and the Ministry of Information changed default language of profile from Russian to Ukrainian.

Table 2. Followers, following and tweets number change

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Several Ministries experienced a tangible increase in the number of followers. For instance, the Ministry of Agriculture followers increased by 39 which is almost 40%. More than 400 followers have joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Many Ministries had reviewed the list of users they follow. The Ministry of Infrastructure substantially cleaned the “following” list. The Ministry of Information increased the following users list by 34% and started using Twitter account more frequently. A small increase in the “following” number is observed in the Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Information and Ministry of Justice. Some, but not all, questionable Twitter accounts have been unfollowed.

Figure 1. Percentage of retweeted messages, 06 Feb 2015 – 10 Apr 2015

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a leader in the number of tweets. Between 06 Feb 2015 and 10 Apr 2015, they posted 3,170 tweets. However, 84% of them are retweets. The smallest number of tweets are posted by the Ministry of Finance. Over the last 2 months they had only 6 pieces of news to share. The Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Ecology, Ministry of Infrastructure, and Ministry of Justice post only their own tweets.

Table 3. Percentage of most popular retweeted users

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The most popular user is @poroshenko with 177 retweets over the last 2 months. This user is followed by @YPerebyinis (154), Spokesman for the MFA of Ukraine, and @APUkraine (166). The Ministry of Foreign Affairs retweets @YPerebyinis and @DmytroKuleba more than their own Minister (@PavloKlimkin).

Figure 2. Number of own tweets per week, 06 Feb 2015 – 10 Apr 2015

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs had the highest number of own tweets per week until April 2015. The Ministry of Internal Affairs and The Ministry of Economy have made a substantial progress in the number of produced tweets and together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs became the top 3 “news makers”. The Ministry of Infrastructure has increased activity as well and is approaching the leaders.

Figure 3. Share of own tweets per week 06 Feb 2015 – 10 Apr 2015

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The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Internal Affairs were the most active twitters in terms of the number of own tweets until April 2015. They used to generate 50%-60% of all tweets produced each week by all Ukrainian ministries. At the beginning of April the Ministry of Economy increased their twitter activity, generating almost a quarter of all tweets in the first week of April. The Ministry of Infrastructure has picked up their twitter activity as well (e.g., last week it generated 15% of all tweets).

Figure 4. Share of retweets of own tweets per week, 06 Feb 2015 – 10 Apr 2015

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Not only the number of tweets but their popularity also matters. Our next statistic is based on the number of retweets for each original tweet (tweets that are not retweeted might be considered as “unpopular”). Figure 4 shows the percentage of retweets for each Ministry. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs consistently gets about 50% of all retweets of own posts, followed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs. There is also a noticeable improvement in retweets for the Ministry of Economy posts. The list of top 20 retweeted tweets is shown in the Table 4. Unfortunately, the content of the most popular tweets very often is not related to the reforms activities.

Table 4. Top 20 retweeted tweets, 06 Feb 2015 – 10 Apr 2015.

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Conclusions

There are some improvements in Twitter activities and account management of Ukrainian Ministries. While the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Internal Affairs remain among the most active Twitter users, the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Information showed some progress. We observe no progress in Twitter communication of the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry, the Ministry of Social Politics, and the Ministry of Culture. Those Ministries still do not have their Twitter accounts. The Ministry of Regional Development has joined this list by deleting its Twitter account. One can only wonder how a ministry can design and implement reforms while ignoring some of the most powerful tools of communication. There is certainly a hundred dollar bill on a sidewalk here.

Correction

After publication of this post, the Ministry of Finance contacted the VoxUkraine team and informed about their new twitter account: @MinFin_Ukraine (not @minfin_ua as we mentioned in the previous post). This account, it is said, is the only account of the Ministry. Which means that @minfin_ua is a fake. All our future posts about Twitter activities of Ukrainian ministries will use new account details.


Disclaimer

The authors do not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and have no relevant affiliations