Once upon a time royals and elites had to don elaborate disguises to mingle with their people. Now they have Twitter.
Bruni’s site, in a typically tongue-in-cheek style that has been criticized by some as pretentious, writes: “Three weeks after NATO, the Sarkozy couple’s visit to Spain is once more an opportunity to compare the styles of First Ladies. As with Michelle Obama, it is a beauty contest between Princess Letizia, a former star journalist, and Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, ex-top model. From their Louboutin shoes to their Azzedine Alaa dresses, the essentials are all there.” Meanwhile, Britain’s Sarah Brown claims some credit for launching the French first lady into the blogosphere, telling CNN she was flattered when Bruni “complimented me on my blog and responded by starting her own too on her new Web site.” Brown, who tweets several times a day and has 832,596 Twitter followers, told CNN why she loves social media: “I’ve always thought of Downing Street as a public building with very limited public access. So I have tried to open Number 10 up as much as possible — through regular charity receptions, film screenings, tours for different groups — and also through what I do online.” “I’d also been getting a lot of letters and emails asking for more detail about what I was up to day-to-day, and I really wanted to find a way to share ideas, campaigns and causes (and the occasional joke or link) with the people who’d been kind enough to take an interest,” she added. Brown says she is especially fond of Twitter. “I’ve got a Facebook page and do the occasional blog on the Downing Street Web site when traveling officially, but the thing I really love is Twitter. It avoids the commitment of a blog, a full length article or an interview which means it can happen more regularly, and it opens up the opportunity for a dialogue with other Twitter followers.” “I can devote a little time every day to sharing what I am up to and through reading other people’s tweets I’ve learnt about causes and news that I might otherwise have missed.” Brown intends to continue tweeting: “Some people have followed me from my first tweet and they’ve been so encouraging and friendly. My days just wouldn’t be complete without finding out the latest news from them — about their kids’ exam results or the latest story from their daily lives. I’ve been touched to have a number of followers from all over the world, including a lot of great Americans.” While in a seemingly distant past first ladies’ roles may have been limited to smiling for the cameras, Brown and other social queens seem to have found a powerful new platform to carry their own voice across the Web.