Sunday, June 6, 2010

Social media for diplomats - practical guide 2.0

About a year ago I wrote a post explaining basic guidelines on using social media by diplomats (here:
One year later, I would like to update some things and add others. After all, there is nothing like experience…
I will comment about three major tools: Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.

So why Facebook?

1. More than 400 million users
2. The most significant users traffic, after Google
3. More than 60 languages
4. Popular in non-English speaking countries
5. Enormous potential for Public Diplomacy (at least today, because who knows what we’ll have in the future!)

Basic steps for working with Facebook

There are three Facebook page types for organizations: Fan page, Group or Cause. The fan page is most commonly used for organizations. It’s recommended to set up a personal page prior to opening the mission’s official fan page. Make yourself familiar with how Facebook works.
Choose a person who is effective communicator or writer. If s/he needs a training ask your HQ to provide it!
Define your risk plan: how you respond to negative comments and determine what is acceptable and what is not
Your page should be branded as official site, in order to differentiate between you and others appearing on your behalf.
Engage at appropriate times and respond quickly. Provide your updates on regular basis and often. Monitoring should be done on the daily basis. Any inappropriate postings should be removed immediately.
It’s recommended to include in the Info section the following statement: “This page is operated by the embassy of Israel in … Hate materials, obscenities, inappropriate photos will not be tolerated and person/s who published such materials will be blocked from this page”.
Security: discuss with the security officer different aspects of physical security and information security.

How to promote your Facebook page

Manage the page in the language of your country – there could be exceptions, but this is the general rule. Update the page at least 4-5 times a week. 3. Updates should be about the activity of your mission and related to your country of destination. It must be important to your local audience. You could update on general matters as well, but keep in mind the first part of this recommendation!
In all your documents include the FB address: official letters, email signatures of all the employees, visit cards. Promote your FB page through the bilateral Chambers of Commerce, Friendship Associations, and your expats communities organizations – they also use social media!
Create bloggers coalitions – they will spread the word better than anybody else. And you will need them for other things too! Check the most popular portals, blogs, or FB pages in your country of destination, learn about what they write and publish your comments with links to your FB page and/or website.

Twitter gets Twinfluence

In the last 12 months Twitter become very popular in the diplomatic community throughout the world. Many ministries of foreign affairs have their pages, many diplomatic missions did the same. However many diplomats that I know are still hesitant about opening it and using it. So first of all: Personal account is better than mission’s account. You should both, but remember that as a person you can reach much more followers and engage with them better in comparison to official profile of your mission.
Update daily, at least 3 times a day. In emergency/crisis situation update once every hour, and more…
Retweet posts, mention other twitterers and respond to messages. In emergency/crisis situation use Hashtags: #
Create lists in order to monitor information and use Tweetdeck to monitor what’s happening. During the Haiti humanitarian operation we used Twitter to get information about the open airports for rescue team landing.
And of course, publish links to video, photos or posts. Don’t forget to check your Twitter effectiveness with Twinfluence.

A few words about LinkedIn for diplomats

Open your personal account and describe your professional profile. Look at the groups that are of professional interest to you. Connect your Twitter account to LinkedIn.
As a year ago, my conclusion about LinkedIn is the same: diplomats should use it for personal and professional networking. I don’t think mission’s profile or ministry’s profile must appear on LinkedIn, at least not yet. I believe that economic and humanitarian cooperation could be done through LinkedIn groups, and diplomats can contribute to it a lot.

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