From Delhi to Dili: Facebook Diplomacy by Ministries of Foreign Affairs in the Asia-Pacific

In: The Hague Journal of Diplomacy
Damien Spry University of South Australia Adelaide, South Australia

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This article uses digital research methods to explore the use of Facebook by ministries of foreign affairs (MFAs) in several Asian locations. It contextualises this analysis by considering four factors that contribute to the growing complexity confronting public diplomacy: environmental factors (digitalised, networked media); institutional factors (diplomatic norms and traditions, and MFAs’ policies and practices); algorithmic factors (the programming that organises social media content); audience factors (social media users). The analysis shows most Facebook content posted by MFAs is driven by institutional factors. Yet this content is not the most appealing to digital publics, who are more likely to engage with content they find relevant and useful, or emotionally resonant. The article concludes that Facebook, and digital media generally, can provide multiple small opportunities for outreach, if due consideration is given to audiences’ needs and motivations. These audience factors may be the most important, but least considered, by MFAs.

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