Social media platforms often create a gray area in public diplomacy. Are Twitter “likes” indicative of meaningful relationships? In a new study published by USC Annenberg’s International Journal of Communication, 2017-2019 CPD Research Fellow Diana Ingenhoff of the University of Fribourg and Efe Sevin of Reinhardt University assert that they are not.
Warning against over-valuing “likes,” Ingenhoff and Sevin introduce solutions for the many difficulties in measuring the effectiveness of social media-driven public diplomacy campaigns to improve a country’s nation brand. By examining Twitter activity from the governments of Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland and Belgium, their model considers both content (ideas expressed in posts) and digital networks (the links between users built through retweets, mentions, etc.). Notably, four dimensions are defined for measuring social media’s impact on country reputation: functional (beliefs about a country’s competency and competitiveness); normative (beliefs about a country’s integrity); aesthetic (beliefs about a country’s culture, traditions and territory); and sympathetic (general fondness for a country).
“The reputation and perception of a country could and should be seen as an outcome of public diplomacy,” write Ingenhoff and Sevin. “Social media presents a unique platform for individuals to present their honest opinions and thus is a reliable arena for data collection. … The link between digital public diplomacy and nation brands is based not only on the content but on the flow of the messages.”
You can read the full study, “Public Diplomacy on Social Media: Analyzing Networks and Content,” here.