ECB’s Twitter Publicity Machine Is Probably Worth the Bother
The European Central Bank’s attempt to reach a general audience on Twitter isn’t a “road to nowhere” despite the challenging nature of monetary policy, according to new in-house research.
Analyzing tweets about the ECB that were sent under Mario Draghi’s tenure as president, the paper found that users without expert knowledge do take part in conversations about the central bank on the platform, while expressing stronger opinions and representing a larger variety of views compared to professionals.
“The ECB manages to reach out to non-experts, even if to a lesser degree than it reaches the traditional expert audience,” authors Michael Ehrmann and Alena Wabitsch said in the paper. “And central bank communication has the potential to make discussions in social media somewhat more factual and moderate.”
The ECB found itself under more scrutiny in the years after the financial crisis as policies grew more complex and interest rates fell to record lows. President Christine Lagarde, who took over from Draghi in 2019, has made communicating with citizens a priority, and the institution also promised to do a better job of reaching out to the public as part of its strategy review that concluded this year.
Some academics have deemed such efforts as bound to fail because non-experts are difficult to reach. Yet the paper argued that this is not the case, as wider parts of the population -- at least those active on Twitter -- are “responsive to the ECB’s communication,” especially around events that spark controversy, like Draghi’s “whatever it takes” speech in 2012.
Whether this communication “ultimately succeeds in fostering trust, making central banks accountable, or influencing agents’ inflation expectations and behavior remains an open issue, however,” the authors said.
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