7 Steps to Social Media Success in Digital Diplomacy – A winning formula for government agencies


Digital communications transformation in Government and public sector is shaking up traditional work practices, challenging leadership’s personal bias and re-framing the fundamental premise of ‘in the public interest’. Add in a global pandemic and you have no choice but to rethink digital diplomacy in a world where there are more people using social media than are not.

The public interest, previously dictated by civil and public servants, politicians and policy makers, is increasingly in the hands of the people – those that Governments are there to serve – because of social media.

The real battle online is attention

But what does success actually look like online? In my view, there are seven core goals of digital diplomacy:

  1. Build public trust
  2. Generate citizen engagement
  3. Motivate the public to take a specific action based on factual information
  4. Communicate real-time public interest messages
  5. Manage online reputation
  6. Disrupt the spread of misinformation
  7. Build a community of advocates

So how do you navigate a changing communications landscape with confidence and conviction, truly serving the people of your city, state, country or union?

In this blog post I’m going to share seven steps to take to achieve online success and also that you can implement time and time again. When you take action based on this blog post you will learn what works best for your organisation.

7 steps to social media success in digital diplomacy

Step #1 Identify Audience and Emotional Need

You need to be very specific about the audience you want to reach. They will have shared criteria especially around a need for information, specific to their life circumstances or maybe where they live. Your audience(s) should be segmented by age, gender, location, behaviour and interest.

For example, citizens seeking information on relocating to a new country where they don’t have citizenship or an automatic right. So, in this case the common denominator isn’t age, gender or location but instead it is their personal circumstance.

Step #2 Establish Channels and Digital Journey

Now that you have identified your target audience, it’s time to establish where on online you can best reach them. You will be able to do your due diligence here by using a tool such as Napolean Cat to see the demographic user-base of key social networks. Next you need to craft the digital journey they will take when they see and ultimately engage with your content. Will social media posts lead them to a website landing page, and what content is on that landing page, and what actions will they take? For example, a group of people seeking more information on how to apply for citizenship will need detailed information. Their digital journey might start with seeing a Facebook post, clicking a link to a website, and then registering to attend an information session where they can ask questions.

Step #3 Create ‘Just Like Me’ Content

Once you have the attention of the public then it is up to you to emotionally engage with a particular citizen base. This is achieved by creating and publishing content that is relevant and that resonates with them. I describe it as ‘just like me’ storytelling. The ultimate goal or conversion is public trust and this is the real currency of digital diplomacy. A great way to create this type of content is to put the citizen at the centre of the story. Use a case study or the experience of a service user. Social media users need to see themselves in your content, not diplomatic speak.

Step #4 Deploy with Smart Social Media Tactics

When it comes to publishing and distributing your content on social media you should be adventurous with the tactics you use on each social network. Don’t just write a single post, or share a graphic, be braver and really lean into the diverse features of all the relevant social networks. For example, consider going live on Facebook, recording a 4-part IGTV series, hosting a Twitter Space and being active throughout your campaign on Stories. The social networks will also reward you with more reach, so it’s worth experimenting and testing.

Step #5 Engage and Convert

Now that you have successfully gained the attention of your target audience, don’t waste the opportunity to engage with them. This entails asking questions, publishing polls, answering comments in threads and responding to DMs and PMs and maybe even going so far as to do a live Q&A. Your ultimate aim is to get your target audience to convert – but remember you must decide what the conversion is. Is it to register for your upcoming webinar, attend a virtual event, download an information sheet or subscribe to a newsletter? When you engage with your audience with ‘just like me’ content and add a call to action (CTA) they will be more likely to convert.

Step #6 Measure and Analyse

Measurement of the performance of your campaign should be monitored on an ongoing basis and not just at the end of your campaign. Reviewing impressions, reach, engagement rate, website clicks, video views and sentiment towards your content will provide you with actionable insights. This means data which informs you if you need to produce more or different content based on the reaction to your current content. If people are asking lots of the same questions, this is a signal that you need to create a new piece of informative content to address this knowledge gap. You will also complete an end of campaign report illustrating the content that performed best along with content format (text, web link, video, graphic, carousel, livestream, Stories).

Step #7 Learn and Iterate

Everything you have learned in this blog post is academic until you take action. By completing a social media campaign for your digital diplomatic efforts you will have learned so much more than I could teach you in this article.

Ready, Steady, Act

Public sector, government and diplomatic communications is now firmly in the hands of the public as their online voice influences the media, Governments and of course each other. The days of using the media as a buffer are over. Citizen journalists, whether we like it or now, are power brokers.

If you have learnings to share from following my seven steps, I’d really appreciate your feedback. Tweet me to @JSTweetsDigital.

Written by:

Joanne Sweeney, CEO, Public Sector Marketing Institute and Author, Public Sector Marketing Pro

Original Article