The Facebook strategy of the Swiss missions abroad

Facebook Cover of Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio CassisBy Renée Bäni @ReneeBani, Head of social media center of competences, Presence Switzerland, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs Switzerland @SwissMFA

With more than a hundred pages, Facebook is the most used social media for the Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs, even though the Ministry itself is not on the platform (but the Minister is). Even in 2019, with Facebook’s alleged decline of interest and reach difficulties, it is still the preferred platform when a Swiss mission decides to be present on a social media.

How can this be explained? In 2019, Facebook remains the world’s third most visited website and the top social platform in terms of monthly active users. For Swiss missions it is the main platform to reach and engage with the general public. And this is the main objective they all have on Facebook: get their messages across to the general public of their host countries. Usually this target audience can be split in two categories: the locals and the Swiss living abroad. This is why most of the posts are posted in several languages, first one being the national language of the host country, the other being one of the Swiss national languages or English.

Regarding the type of messages that are shared, we have three main categories: the mission’s activities and engagements in the host country, consular information and general information about Switzerland.

For the form, thanks to regular training and support from the headquarters, good practices are more and more adopted by the missions: native videos or strong visuals, live videos, use of emojis and occasional advertising to boost key messages.

Lately the Facebook algorithm has been pushing posts “creating meaningful conversations”. How do we encourage the Swiss missions to do so? Whenever appropriate, the community is invited to share its experiences in the comments, and if they do, we take time to reply to these comments, with the motto: if someone gives two minutes of their time to comment, this should be valued, and we should reply.