Diplomats on Facebook

What conditions make Facebook a productive digital diplomacy tool? In a new article published in The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, CPD Contributing Scholar Dr. Damien Spry examines how ministries of foreign affairs have used Facebook to connect with audiences in several locations across Asia-Pacific. 

Specifically, Spry takes a look at the environmental, institutional, algorithmic and audience factors behind the use of Facebook for digital diplomacy. He finds that the institutional factors that compel ministries to post certain types of content do not always match the audience factors that drive engagement on the platform.

For public diplomats seeking to craft meaningful engagement, considering what is immediately useful or emotionally resonant to target audiences may be what is needed to make Facebook an important diplomacy tool. Spry writes:

"MFAs can, therefore, unburden themselves from unrealistic expectations that Facebook can be a forum for deep levels of engagement with foreign publics, or a place where the explicit promotion of national values and characteristics will have a great impact," Spry notes. "Instead, Facebook, and by extension digital media more generally, can provide the ‘multiple small channels’ for ‘multiple small images’ that, over time and through accumulation, can be effective if due consideration is given to the needs, interests and motivations of the MFAs’ audiences."

Read the full article, "From Delhi to Dili: Facebook Diplomacy by Ministries of Foreign Affairs in the Asia-Pacific," in The Hague Journal of Diplomacy here.

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