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Series:

Ilan Manor

Despite growing interest in digital diplomacy, few studies to date have evaluated the extent to which foreign ministries have been able to realize its potential. Studies have also neglected to understand the manner in which diplomats define digital diplomacy and envision its practice. This article explores the digital diplomacy model employed by four foreign ministries through interviews and questionnaires with practitioners.
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Ilan Manor

Despite growing interest in digital diplomacy, few studies to date have evaluated the extent to which foreign ministries have been able to realize its potential. Studies have also neglected to understand the manner in which diplomats define digital diplomacy and envision its practice. This article explores the digital diplomacy model employed by four foreign ministries through interviews and questionnaires with practitioners. Results from a cross national comparison suggest that foreign ministries have been able to institutionalize the use of social media through the development of best practices and training for diplomats. However, foreign ministries seem to utilize social media to influence elite audiences rather than to foster dialogue with foreign populations. Results also suggest that both ministries and social media audiences are negotiating their respective roles in the online communication process. Although social media is used to overcome the limitations of traditional diplomacy, and manage the national image, foreign ministries fail to collaborate with non-state actors or use social media as a source of information for policy makers. Thus, while diplomacy is networked, it is still state-centric. Finally, at the embassy level, ambassadors now serve as digital gatekeepers.

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Ronit Kampf, Ilan Manor and Elad Segev

Social media holds the potential to foster dialogue between nations and foreign populations. Yet only a few studies to date have investigated the manner in which digital diplomacy is practised by foreign ministries. Using Kent and Taylor’s framework for dialogic communication, this article explores the extent to which dialogic communication is adopted by foreign ministries in terms of content, media channels and public engagement. The results of a six-week analysis of content published on Twitter and Facebook by eleven foreign ministries show that engagement and dialogic communication are rare. When engagement does occur, it is quarantined to specific issues. Social media content published by foreign ministries represents a continuous supply of press releases targeting foreign, rather than domestic, populations. A cross-national comparison revealed no discernible differences in the adoption of dialogic principles. Results therefore indicate that foreign ministries still fail to realize the potential of digital diplomacy to foster dialogue.