8 Simple Steps Towards Reaching A Broader Audience

As I have mentioned in previous posts, your country’s achievements may seem wonderful to you and your Diaspora, but if your goal is to make friends for your country, showing off is not enough, and can sometimes be annoying. I mean, if your country has a strong economy and you are promoting that aspect in a country that suffers from high unemployment, you might start pissing people off.

You must show how your country’s achievements benefit the region or city you reside in.

It is classic “What’s In It For Me” only with the mind-set of ‘What’s In It for Them’ elevated by social media, and creating a win for all situation.

For example, let’s say that one of the pillars of your country’s overall branding strategy is its medical field. It is part of your job to make people aware of the fact that you have a lot to offer in that realm. So what’s the problem? Write a few words, add hashtags and attach an article from a website published in your native country raving all about it and post on your Facebook page, right? Sure if you want it to end right there, but if you want to be effective there are more ways to do it, and here is one of them:

  1. Contact the author of the article as well as the hero of the story.
  2. Email the article to local bloggers who would be interested in that content and offer to connect them with the above.
  3. Contact an online medical publication as well as a specific community that would be positively affected by this breakthrough, and get them to publish the story (written by the blogger who picked it up) on their website, newsletter and social networks. Don’t just post it on their page, it works better for all involved if they post it on their website and later share it themselves.
  4. Tell them all that you will be more than happy to promote the post using your mission’s networks as well.
  5. Once it is published, keep your promise and share it on your Social Media Channels using effective hashtags.
  6. Post on your website that the local publication/blog/organization wrote about this amazing discovery in your country, give the gist of it and share the link to where it was published.
  7. Thank the blogger as well as the organization/publication for posting and promise to let them know if and when you receive anything that would be of interest to them and send them the link to the featured article on your website.
  8. Use the information in the article and refer to it in an answer you compose in response to that or a related topic on Quora or any other significant Q&A based social network.

By applying these simple and basic PR moves, you will be able to:

  1. Deliver your message to a broader audience.
  2. Give your country positive exposure.
  3. Make new connections with bloggers, organizations and publications that will in the future be open and willing to receive more information from you and also possibly host or co-sponsor joint events, delegations or co-ops.
  4. Contribute to the local community and show how relevant you are to their day-to-day lives.
  5. Improve your country’s online presence and reputation. The circulation of linked information from one website to another, as well as newsletters, tweets and shares help search engines pick up on you and the story.

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6 Ways to Use Quora in the Service of Digital Diplomacy

A while back, I came across a tweet that promised to tell me what are the next up and coming social media sites I should be keeping an eye out for. Given my bombastic job title, I figured I have to read it, just to be in the know and just in case someone decides to challenge my knowledge. I clicked on the link and scrolled down until I reached Quora. What can I say, I fell in love.

Recognizing the potential, I immediately created an account for my consulate. I named it after my consul general, gave a short description of our mission and started following topics, people and questions.

About a week later, I was proud to receive and message from a Quora admin, telling me that we are the first and only diplomatic mission on the site and that he is looking forward to see how we choose to use it for our purposes.

Though the natural inclination is to answer questions related directly to my country’s political issues and foreign policy, I decided to answer question about topics I knew my country had something to offer to the world. My Consul General was surprised and happy to learn that he is an expert on water desalination, solar power, surfing, stem cell research, desertification prevention, innovative education methods, location-based apps, autism research and so much more.

The best part about it all is that the amount of followers the account has pales in comparison to the actual reach, since the questions and topics have so many followers from across the globe.

The most satisfaction I got was not from the “vote ups” but rather the messages reading “I would have never thought of that, I’ll look into it” and other comments of that nature.

The people I managed to reach via Quora would have never been exposed to this information if I had resorted to post it strictly on the mission’s website, Facebook page or Twitter.

Quora truly enables you to reach an audience based on niche interests, most of who are professionals in those fields and appreciate interesting and informative content that has professional value to them.

 Here are a few tips using Quora:

  1. Beware and be prepared. It is highly addicting.
  2. Follow topics and questions you want your country or government agency to be associated with or that are related to your branding strategy.
  3. Answer questions that can help you promote companies, startups, ideas, academic institutions, artists, technologies all located, invented, developed or heavily used in your country.
  4. Write answers, not articles, but include links to articles, especially if they were published in a source you have an interested in driving traffic to.
  5. If you are asked to answer a question regarding current events or a political issue, treat it as an official statement and abide by your guidelines and directives.
  6. If you are fortunate enough to employ interns, let them research and compose answers according to their personal fields of interest. That will motivate them and help them learn more about your country. For the most part, they are younger than you, and being out of this organic line of work, they will find topics that you would never think about. Don’t forget to go over it before they hit post. You know, just in case.

Resisting Temptations: 10 Lessons learned

We all have different considerations that lead us to choose whatever business we are in. Whether it is for financial benefit, a passion or a deeply rooted sense of mission, the hard work we invest makes us venerable to criticism and makes us at times, and yes, emotional.

I admit, I have made quite a few mistakes by allowing those who I like to call taunters (after the ‘French Tounter’ in Monty Python’s Holy Grail) get to me while trying to engage on Facebook, Twitter and sometimes even on Quora.

Having the urge and the ability to respond directly has taught me a few valuable lessons which I am happy to share with you:

  1. Count to 10. A lot has changed since childhood but that tip is still very relevant, even with the need for quick responses.
  2. Anything you say can and will be retweeted against you.
  3. Just because they “like” you, doesn’t mean they’ll always like you.
  4. A back and forth conversation on our timeline can be left for those who really like you and would gladly comment for you.
  5. Your own personal sense of humor or irony can alienate fans who identify with the message but not with its delivery.
  6. The account you manage is not your own. The way you navigate the conversation is part of your brand strategy and reflects on it, not your personal feelings.
  7. Your taunter is not targeting you personally, but they will be happy to use your emotional outbreak just for fun. They are either bored out of their  mind or there with a deliberate intention to criticize your brand/organization/country with no real wish for a dialogue.
  8. Welcome your critics. The human need to be noticed is a large part of how and why social media has grown to these dimensions. Censorship repels even the loyal fans and lessens the engagement.
  9. You can’t always predict or control where that comment/tweet or post will end up.
  10. If your fans are ganging up on a taunter, calm the discussion down, even if you agree with them. But seriously, don’t  give a person or a comment more attention than they deserve. That will only make them want to keep doing it.

At the end of the day, when managing public diplomacy, and particularly digital diplomacy,

monty python french taunter

“Now go away or I shall taunt you a second time”

there are always 3 groups you typically interact with:

  1. The “Persuaded” – Your supporters who will like, share and comment positively if the agree or won’t comment if  they don’t, just to save face (your face).
  2. The “On the Fence” – Those who either have no opinion or are trying to establish one. Put them at the top of your priority list and tip them over to your side.
  3. The “No Matter What You Say, You Suck” – those will always be around, and you will never persuade them, especially if you insist on letting them drag you into confrontation. So just keep your level of engagement at minimum and let their arguments against you gain you the sympathy of the “on the fence” crowd, the solidarity of the “persuaded” crowd and let it work to your advantage.

Always remember that being wise is much more important than being right. Let others do your lobbying, beyond the time it consumes of you and the potential slips of the type, it is in your best interest to mobilize others on your behalf. Especially if you represent a government, because the mere fact that you are the government puts a damper on your credibility.