Essential digital diplomacy

One of the most prominent and seasoned British government tweeters, Foreign Secretary William Hague, makes a clear statement of the significant role of digital communication channels in the exercise of foreign policy, calling them “an essential tool.”

 Hague’s tweet on May 4, embedded above, also says that 80 British embassies are now on Twitter as well as more than 20 ambassadors and other diplomats – you can see a list of them with their Twitter handles on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website.

This is the latest news about government strategy for the role of social media tools and channels as part of government communication and engagement.

In June 2011, Hague said the Foreign Office digital diplomacy department was “in constant touch” with diplomats working in other countries, and that the digital unit was helping diplomats “increase their use of social media for use in communications, engagement and in monitoring”. This, he said, helped the UK “gain a wider picture of events”.

[...] “Our social media presence is strong, and growing, allowing us to respond to foreign policy challenges in a new way,” Hague said. “FCO missions and staff currently engage through Facebook and Twitter with over 300,000 followers.”

Nearly a year on from that statement, I expect the numbers will have increased quite a bit.