Fresh Diplomatic Meat on Tumblr

New cadets have arrived at the Foreign Ministry for their intense 6 month training program  and they plan to blog about it on Tumblr.

digital diplomacy

The Israeli Foreign Ministry’s 30th cadet training course seems pretty unique. Not because it is comprised by an equal number of men and women or because of its cultural diversity, but because of the fact that many of these people have chosen to dump promising careers in journalism, law, high-tech and finance to join a neglected government agency that as a result suffers from strikes and public campaigns in protest of low pay.

A country brand that is on the rise but has so many issues to resolve cannot afford to recruit un-to-under-qualified personnel but until this  issue between the Treasury and the MFA is resolved, they will have to continue to rely on people’s good will and sense of mission.

I was never a cadet and a few of them might be older than me, but if I were to dispense any advice vis-à-vis this blog it would be:

1. WRITE IN ENGLISH (or else the only people reading this blog would be your families and your supervisors, plus it’s a good opportunity to practice your English writing skills).

2. Use tags that will help people who are interested in diplomacy find you.

In other words, be apart of the conversation beyond your office walls and fulfill this blog’s potential.

Let’s all wish them the best of luck on their challenging journey!

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Heads of State on Instagram

We didn’t need Selfiegate to teach us that Instagram is probably the ultimate tool for camera happy politicians and diplomats.

Prime Minister of Russia Demitry Medvedev on Instagram

Prime Minister of Russia Demitry Medvedev’s Instagram Profile Pic

This week, Instagram posted a list of Heads of State accounts worth following on their tumblr blog.

Here it is:

  • Elio Di Rupo, Prime Minister of Belgium — @eliodirupo
  • Dilma Rousseff, President of Brazil — @palaciodoplanalto
  • Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada — @pmstephenharper
  • Rania Al Abdullah, Queen of Jordan — @queenrania
  • Ani Yudhoyono, First Lady of Indonesia — @aniyudhoyono
  • Shimon Peres, President of Israel — @shimonperes
  • Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Kenya — @ukenyatta
  • Najib Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia — @najib_razak
  • Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico — @penanieto
  • Horacio Cartes, President of Paraguay — @horaciocartespy
  • Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister of Russia — @damedvedev
  • Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore — @leehsienloong
  • Borut Pahor, President of Slovenia — @borutpahor
  • Abdullah Gül, President of Turkey — @cbabdullahgul
  • European Parliament — @europeanparliament
  • Clarence House — Members of the United Kingdom’s Royal Family including The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry — @clarencehouse

Click here to view the full list of best accounts of heads of state to follow on Instagram

Benjamin Netanyahu’s Grumpy Cat Impression

Benjamin Netanyahu’s social media team might have made the worst possible Facebook timeline photo upload choice, following the Israeli PM’s UN speech.

Why the worst? Not just because Netanyahu looks like he is doing an impression of Grumpy Cat, but mainly because his last UN speech regarding Iran, makes

benjamin netanyahu at the unIsrael appear as the peace refusnik.

The post says: “I’d like to thank the citizens of Israel for the many responses to my speech. I feel honored and privilaged to represent you”.

A note to team Netanyahu – Always consider the context of your posts, and remember that not everyone gets paid to praise your boss.

Netanyahu’s Candy Crush Saga

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu uploaded a Youtube greeting for Rosh Hashana, the new Jewish year featuring himself playing Candy Crush Saga on his Ipad.

With a map and an Israeli flag hanging behind him, Netanyahu talks about how hardship can be dealt with using the power of thought and concentration, while the game’s all too familiar music plays in the background.

Cute or embarrassing? Judge for yourselves:

(I’m sorry, there are no subtitles but i’m sure you’ll get the idea)

5 Things Diplomats Should Avoid On Facebook

Successful diplomats often become mini celebrities in the communities they serve. In addition to promoting their country’s interests and conducting diplomatic efforts using social media platforms, diplomats, being human, have their own personal Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram accounts.

Senior diplomats often have a fan page, managed by embassy or consulate staff,

Obama Rejects Wearing Mickey Ears

Obama Rejects Wearing Mickey Ears. Click on pic for full story

and for the most part, the fan pages or official twitter account act as another channel to amplify their country’s voice.

But for those managing their own personal accounts, the challenges are even greater.

Not to mention the hired employees serving their diplomatic mission who at times, forget that although it is their personal account and they are not the diplomats, it is public and their posts have an effect on the mission’s overall online presence.

A quick scan of junior diplomats and hired staff accounts reveals that they are not all aware that comments or opinions they would never express publicly in person should most definitely not be visible to all on Facebook.

Diplomats are human and as humans, they wish to share their thoughts and experiences with their families on the other side of the world.

Here are 5 recommendations based on a what I found in senior, junior and diplomatic staff I have been monitoring for the purpose of this post:

1. Keep your account public but make your personal pictures private or limited to family and close friends.

2. Do not like or comment on local politicians pages. This should be a given. Your professional account may certainly follow politicians as long as you follow all candidates equality and refrain from commenting, since this can and will be interpreted as showing active involvement in local politics.

3. As hard as it may be, avoid posting statements about your own country’s political figures, especially during election season, a time when the rest of the world may be taking a closer look at what is happening in your country.

4. If you are one of those diplomats who rightfully take advantage of being in new surroundings and enjoy spending your free time traveling, by all means, don’t hesitate to share your experiences, but be wise. You do not want to come across as ‘all fun and no work’ (sponsored by public funds).

5. It is truly wonderful to have a friendly working environment at your offices, but a line must be drawn somewhere and it better be Clear on Facebook. A trail of comments made by embassy staff and local community members on a diplomat’s photo wearing Mickey Mouse ears in Disney World from simply cute to absolutely ridiculous. Not to mention the long term managerial challenges you will face upon your return from your lovely vacation.

The best way to approach this all relies heavily on common sense and the constant thought that should always echo in your mind when representing something greater than yourself:

WOULD I ALLOW MYSELF TO BEHAVE THIS WAY OFFLINE?

The answer, multiplied by the combined sum of friends and followers on your personal and professional accounts should be enough to keep you from embarrassing yourself, your mission and your country.

How to Grow Your Newsletter Readership

To be very honest, I don’t like newsletters. Maybe it because I am the type who likes to Google specific information I want to find or maybe it is because it always requires an extra click to view the content.

Whatever it is, for a very long time, it had prevented me from viewing the newsletter as an important engagement tool. With an average of 18% open rate I couldn’t understand why my colleagues at the consulate spend so much valuable time wording and rewording items, scavenging the web for information to post, and pressuring us all with deadlines. good newsletter

But then one day, my boss decided to pass on the task to me. As much as I didn’t want it, it only seemed right that the newsletter resides with the person responsible for digital diplomacy, right?

Not wanting to waste my time, I decided that if I am to deal with this headache, I have to do it right and make it worth the while. With the help of David, my dear intern at the time, we managed to increase our readership from 18% to 38%. A rate much higher than the 19-25% average most companies and non profits expect, and than the 12-20% average many diplomatic missions are accustomed to.

Here are a few things we did, I hope this helps other diplomatic missions increase their reach:

* Note- we used constant contact as our platform.

Content:

  • We decided to focus on “soft news” and only refer to political matters if absolutely necessary, and even then, rather than issue a statement, we embedded it into the opening greeting paragraph/section.
  • We tried, as much as possible to localize our newsletter by bringing the stories of our activities in the region as well as coverage of events (academic, cultural or other), business and companies. For news items that occurred in Israel, we found a local connection and tackled it from that angle (family member, a person involved etc)
  • We gave 1 video and 1 travel tip each week.
  • We made a spotlight section that gave us the freedom to post uncategorized material and/or promote conferences in Israel.
  • Event listing – Always in the same part of the newsletter and always updated. The list would always include the basic Who What When Where info + a small pic, both linked to the full information either on the consulate’s website and/or the venue’s.

Layout:

  • 2 column newsletter – I find that one item leads you to read the next item in the column next to it. You can really play with this in the sense that if you have something less attractive that must be posted, etc
  • Clean colors – White background, black writing, friendly font, orange borders, and blue titles.
  • Images – For the most part, we had the pics and text appear together rather than one before the other. For events happening in Israel or travel tips, we tried to use less iconic images to stimulate curiosity which increases the click count.
  • Keeping it short – Few sentences and a link to full story on our website (not “read more” but using keywords to help with the website’s SEO)

Back work – clean up:

  • We did our research and moved all of those who never open the newsletter to a group we called “zero opens”.
  • We fixed all the broken/wrong email addresses
  • We removed non active users

Gimmicks – highly important:

  • We changed the setting so that it appears as an email from the consul general by using his first and last name.
  • We gave each email a different name and a title that reflects on the content in an attractive, localized way.
  • We started sending the email 2 hours earlier than we used tom right before lunchtime on a Friday.
  • We shared in on Face book and twitter.

Once published, the newsletter would be tweeted and posted to Facebook.

Remember, you can always use the Join My Mailing List App to connect Facebook fans and one-time visitors from your page to your mailing list.

There are many more tricks and tips that can help you increase your newsletter’s reach. But the most important thing to remember is this:

If someone signed up for your newsletter and or are following, they might be following your counterparts in other cities in their country or even in other parts of the world. In light of that you must make yourself relevant- not by publishing the same unified content but by creating your own content, give people a reason to follow you and not someone else.