Social Media & Public Diplomacy
Today, almost everyone I know is on Twitter and Facebook. It’s how people stay connected—be it family, friends, or people who share interests. Organizations and businesses have jumped on the social media bandwagon to promote themselves, and the government tries to do the same. Every governmental department has a Twitter account. You can “like” them on Facebook. Yet, once again, the U.S.’ attempts at public diplomacy falls short.
The reason I believe that these attempts at public diplomacy through social media outreach fall short is based on authenticity. Facebook was successful because it provided an opportunity for you to learn more about your friends and connect with people (although most people use it for gaming now). Twitter allows you to interact with your favorite celebrities. However, when the government gets involved, we know that someone has been hired to craft the messages that are being sent out. Even if we guess that this is happening with our favorite actors and musicians, we know that this is the case from our government. People don’t go to social media outlets for serious business, they go to have fun and keep in touch with their networks.
Ultimately, the people that are the most candid on Twitter have the most followers. This may be why the official State Department Twitter account has about 175,000 followers, while Snooki from “Jersey Shore” has 3.5 million. Or maybe this just means that the Rapture is imminent.