Twitter ... countries are slow to exploit its full potential.
Only nine out of 193 UN member states own Twitter accounts bearing their country name, and only three of those accounts have been officially verified by the micro-blogging site, according to a report.
In "Twiplomacy", a study published on Thursday looking at country branding on Twitter, communications firm Burson-Marsteller said it had found that most country name accounts were held by private individuals and three out of five were either dormant, inactive, suspended or protected, meaning they can only be seen by accepted viewers.
"Few governments and tourism organisations have understood the power of country branding and marketing on Twitter," Matthias Luefkens, who heads Burson-Marsteller's digital practice unit, said in a statement.
Britain's account was a successful part of the "Britain is Great" campaign launched in March this year, while Israel's account, run by the foreign ministry, was the country's official Twitter channel and counted more than 66,000 followers, according to the study.
Sweden's Twitter account @Sweden, with 65,000 followers, is run jointly by the government-linked Swedish Institute and the country's official tourism board, but has, according to Luefkens, likely not been verified by Twitter due to its "democratic" format, allowing a new citizen to host the feed each week and tweet about anything that comes to mind.
The account @Australia, meanwhile, has more than 6000 followers, yet only one tweet. It does not appear to be official.
It is meanwhile not possible to tell who runs the world's most followed country handle, Indonesia, which is basically a feed for news about the country and counts 193,349 followers, Luefkens said.
Many country-name accounts were held by private individuals, with the protected Egypt account profile for instance stating it is run out of the California Bay area and that "I am not Egypt the country. Okay? I am. not. Egypt. the. country."
The person who owns @Canada has repeatedly offered to give the handle to the Canadian government, if it gets in touch, Luefkens said, pointing out that it is against Twitter rules to sell a handle.
He said he was not surprised more governments did not have control of their country handles, pointing out that "it is only just dawning on them that this is a powerful vehicle for communication".
"I think it will change quickly and governments will become more active" in trying to gain control of Twitter accounts bearing their countries' name, he said.