Is it worth following the #G20 tweets?

Matthias Lüfkens @luefkens

One of the most exciting ways to watch international summits in the digital age is to follow the leaders online and to monitor their posts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and even Periscope.

Turkey is the first G20 presidency to have set up a digital dashboard at, even ranking the G20 leaders according to their Klout scores. Guess who tops that list and who is last...

Since the G20 Summit in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2009 each host country traditionally maintains a bespoke Twitter profile for the meeting. From the initial @G20blog to the Australian government’s @G20Australia Twitter handle, the organizers tend to share statements and pictures of the leaders’ meetings.

The Turkish government has created an overwhelming array of G20 summit accounts ranging from the official Twitter handle @G20Turkiye2015 to specific handles for the @B20 business summit, civil society engagement (@C20Turkey), climate action (@G20Climate), Think Tanks (@T20turkey), women (@W20Turkey) and youth (@Y20Turkey). This online communication frenzy might be bewildering but shows how important the digital sphere has become for summit communication with everyone wanting to have a voice at the digital table.

Obviously these official accounts tweet their fair share of boring handshake pictures as leaders arrive, but it is worth following the Twitter activity of the G20 participants to find that nugget, that picture, which will make headlines and maybe define the meeting.

Remember the G8 leaders watching the Champions League final during their meeting in Camp David in 2012 or Recep Tayyip Erdoğan carefully replacing the Turkish flag at his feet at the G20 in St. Petersburg in 2013.

The beauty of these ‘tweets from our leaders’ is that they give us a glimpse of their discussions and open the meetings to a global audience without any intermediaries. Obviously they won’t live tweet their private discussions or give away summit secrets, however if you follow the right people you can learn a lot about what is going on behind the scenes.

From the tweets of one of the sherpas we have already learned, that the final communiqué was wrapped up before the Antalya summit even started and that it will contain a strong condemnation of terrorism in the wake of the Paris attacks.

In 2016 China will take over the G20 presidency, notably the only country without an official presence on any of the social media platforms. I am not sure that we will see the same openness to digital communications coming out of the summit on Hangzhou. But then, maybe 2016 will be the year China embraces digital diplomacy and digital communication, some of its embassies are already active on Twitter and Facebook.