Assad’s Next Facebook Status

Everything that could be said has been said about this crazy part of the world I live in, and once again, all eyes are on the Middle East (this time on the right place) with the anticipated attack of “the west”, lead by the US, on Syrian targets.

Yet, the only sign of anything being wrong, as far as Assad goes is the fact that his Instagram account hasn’t been updated in nearly 2 weeks, and even then, no sign of the 2 year civil war, chemical weapons used on civilians or the threats of international intervention. Just your same ole award ceremonies, Bashar busy at his desk and the beautiful Asma, hugging kids and cooking for the poor. Bashar Assad on Instagram

The last presidential tweet left the fingertips of team Assad 3 days ago, babbling about some visit of a Yemen delegation.

While the world decides not to wait for him to explain why he felt it right to gas people, Assad gives an interview to Russian news site Izvestia complaining about terrorism and explaining the Geneva Convention articles and at the same time, using his and his minority of supporters’ social networks, reassuring all of us crazy people around the world, that the streets of Damascus have never been livelier. Seriously Bashar, WTF?

Yesterday morning, I was out for brunch with a group of friends when I received a text message from my army unit asking me to be prepared for reserve duty should there be a need, and although I replied diligently, all I could think of is how damn wonderful life could be if it where taking place in Assad’s Facebook page.

If this blog post finds its way to anyone on the Syrian side suffering from the Assad Family’s game of thrones, be sure that there are many in the world and yes, even your estranged neighbors who feel for your pain and wish you only the best.

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US Embassy Digital Job Opportunities

US embassy jobs

For people interested in Digital Diplomacy, please note that you don’t have to be an organic part of your country’s foreign service. Emabssies and Consulates outsource specific jobs, many of them in communications and social media.

Such a job can be a great professional and personal experience and will help you makes career decisions in the future.

For those seeking to work for the US foreign service in a digital-oriented job –

I know of one in Tel aviv and another internship in Stockholm.

Note that the deadlines are up very soon.

Good Luck!

Job Opportunity UK Embassy Kyiv – Media and Digital Communications Manager

The British Embassy Kyiv is seeking to recruit a fixed-term Media and Digital british embassy ukraine

Communications Officer (LEIII) to support the work of the Policy Delivery Team.

The Media and Digital Communications Officer will lead on day-to-day digital engagement, handle publicity and support public diplomacy activities of the Embassy.

  • Deadline for applications: 31 August 2013
  • Interviews to take place: 12 September 2013

Click for full discription of the Media and Digital Communications Manager job.

Best of Luck to you!

Diplo’s Online Learning Day: April 17 Save the Date!

Diplo emerged from a project to introduce information and communication technology (ICT) tools to the practice of diplomacy, initiated in 1992 at the Mediterranean Academy of Diplomatic Studies in Malta.
In November 2002, Diplo was established as an Image

independent non-profit foundation by the

governments of Malta and Switzerland.

The Online Learning Day

(17 April 2013, 10.00 –12.00 CET – online; and 18.00–20.00 CET – Geneva) is part of Diplo’s E-diplomacy Platform and builds on the first Geneva E-diplomacy Day (16 November 2012). Online learning allows busy professionals to continue training without taking time off from work and family life. At the same time, online learning is maturing: learning methodologies are improving and new platforms are emerging. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are reaching thousands of learners worldwide, while this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos signalled that online learning is likely to be one of the main global developments of 2013.

Read full post on Diplo website here

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.

One of the Scariest Moments of My Life

A couple of weeks ago, Israel decided to take action in retaliation to the rocket showering southern Israel from the Gaza Strip. Once again, all eyes were on the Arab-Israeli conflict and for the first time since the early 90’s, Rocket fire reached Tel Aviv. But not just rockets. Another long-almost-forgotten visitor returned to Tel Aviv; a bomb was placed on a bus and had exploded, injuring many.  Thankfully, my sister in-law who was right by the explosion wasn’t injured nor were any of my friends and family members.
But this attack managed to shake me to the bone,
not for the obvious reasons. gaza

2 hours prior to the attack,
someone identifying as a”media man”
from Amman, Jordan, tweeted me directly with the following message:
“10 people killed and 36 injured in an explosion in Tel Aviv”.
He was using Israeli advocacy  hashtags such as #IsraelUnderAttack #IsraelUnderFire and more.
I couldn’t understand why would someone who is advocating for Israel try to damage its advocacy efforts by posting false information, and I made that clear to him in my tweets back to him. I realized that he got to me after my angry tweet to BBC reporter Jon Donison, condemning him for tweeting a picture of an injured child from Syria and tagging it as Gaza.

After the bomb, he kept taunting me with “I told you” messages followed by further “warnings” of  events yet to come.

I posted a screen shot on my Facebook page, and kept posting with every threat.  The images were shared all the way to the military, the police, the secret service – who all contacted me for their own purposes.

Was the guy truly involved? Did he really have information about a planned attack? Was it just a lucky guess? Is he really who he says he is or an alias of someone further away? Did he pick random people or was I his choice for a reason? Should I feel guilty for not taking his warning seriously prior to the explosion?

I don’t know. But one thing is for sure, and that is that social media is rapidly given more roles by its users. With every day that goes by, the definition of “possible”, of time and of space stretch even further and wider, requiring government agencies, civil servants and law enforcement to adapt and update their communication strategies and tactics frequently, withstanding the challenges budgets and bureaucracy impose.