We have asked several foreign ministries to answer some questions about their #DigitalDiplomacy. Here’s a guest post from the Foreign Ministry of Israel.
Which is/are your preferred social media channel(s) and why?
Choosing the online platforms on which we are active is based on a few variables: Firstly – Relevance to the Ministry’s target audiences – where those people are most active is where we find it most important to be present. Secondly, as resources and personnel are not unlimited, prioritization of online presence is required.
Facebook is the major platform of activity, being the most popular social network in most countries around the world. In this past year we’ve increased dramatically our use of this platform to distribute our videos, as Facebook seems to continuously provide increased exposure to video content.
A notable example of Facebook’s advantage video-wise is quite a recent one – Our video in celebration of Israel’s 68th independence day reached over 2.5 Million views in the various language versions in which it was produced, the main one, in English got over 1.3 million views within 2 weeks’ time, without any promotion being made
Twitter is our fastest growing platform, and the one to which we allocate more and more attention in the last couple of years. Its’ openness and the easy access it allows to influencers in different fields and sectors – mark an opportunity we cannot miss. As a result of this increased focus, our network of Twitter channels (missions + diplomats) has grown from 130 last year to over 180 active tweeters this year, as we use different methods of intensive training and intra-organizational advocacy of its potential for the work of Israeli Embassies, Consulates and Diplomats.
The total number of followers of these accounts has grown by 50% in the last year. While most of the accounts in the network have several thousands of followers, quite a few of them already have a followership of over 50 thousand.
Additionally, we are increasingly developing our presence on Instagram, which like Twitter, allows a great community building potential and a way to access younger audiences with its open platform. Our @StateofIsrael channel showcases both original content and collaborations with guest photographers, which helps us to cope with the ongoing ‘struggle’ for creating and sharing quality content.
Please share an example of your best campaign/engagement on social media.
Social media offers an unprecedented opportunity to get increased attention, with less dependence on traditional media. That time when we used Twitter to raise attention to an official statement we found important (and somewhat unnoticed), exemplifies just that. The Prime Minister of Israel had publicly invited the chairman of the Palestinian Authority to meet. We tweeted the invitation, which did not get much media attention up until then, with a direct call which received over 1,100 retweets:
— Israel Foreign Min. (@IsraelMFA) April 5, 2016
Following a reply to our tweet by the official Palestinian account that was mentioned in our original post, we used the chance to reply publicly to sharpen our message:
— Israel Foreign Min. (@IsraelMFA) April 5, 2016
The result of this exchange of tweets was an increased media attention both to the Prime Minister’s invitation and to the lack of attentiveness to the proposal.
Although this chain of tweets was unfortunately not very successful in promoting peace in the Middle East so far, we feel that it did a good job in giving the Prime Minister’s invitation the enhanced exposure we believe it deserved.
Another example for the use of social media to promote a key message, was a tweet posted on National Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day. The combination of a clear message, stating the root cause of this national day to people around the world who may not be familiar with it, together with a design which has an immediate effect on those exposed to it – had brought as a result an increased exposure to this message, which was retweeted over 1,000 times, more than ever before.
— Israel ישראל (@Israel) May 4, 2016
This example carries a learning experience for us – for how to adjust and fine-tune our message textually and visually to maximize the exposure to a message we find to be extremely important.
In addition to making use of available organic paths of distribution, we have been experimenting with new technologies for the amplification of our message. The IsraelRetweeted.me campaign, featured in the current Twiplomacy study, is a recent example of building upon Twitter’s API to grant access for a message to a much wider audience then it could have reached regularly.
How do you measure success on social media?
While social media platforms allow us to perform effective analysis of our work, a major goal for us is to impact priming and framing of our message in traditional media outlets. The following basic principles are important in understanding and recognizing success and failure:
Measuring analytics on a regular basis is necessary and insightful: We have made it a habit to measure our activity on a regular basis, in order to see how we did, what did well and what didn’t – and try to understand why. The factors involved in success/failure of contents vary from subject and timing, through phrasing, to choice of image etc. assessing all these factors allows us to draw important conclusions for future posts.
Setting reasonable but ambitious goals in advance: Once we have a better understanding of possible reasons for success/failure, we’re ready to better assess the goals we wish to set. Cumulative experience in social media allows us to have a fair estimate of what numbers can be anticipated when addressing audience X with the subject Y and with promotion budget Z (when paid promotion budget is relevant and available).
Exposure in traditional media due to activity on social media: Beyond the expected numbers, a major goal in a campaign is to have it reach beyond the immediate circles of influence, through exposure in mainstream traditional media, which gets it a much wider distribution.
Prepare to be surprised –Having said all that, after analyzing all available data, creating ‘the best’ content and doing all we can to get it exposed all over, it should be said that sometimes things that we plan do not get the anticipated attention. On the other hand, in other times we are surprised by the success of some contents and messages we deliver, and we try to learn from these successes and failures on the go, but in the intensive, ever-changing world of social media, we know we must always be prepared to be surprised.