Our Spokesperson, the driving force behind our digital diplomacy

Russia MFA - WebsiteBy Sergey Nalobin @SNalobin, Deputy Director Information and Press Department, Russian Foreign Ministry @MFA_Russia

At the Information and Press Department, our priority is to provide the audience with the most up-to-date official foreign policy coverage accompanied by rich media content. To that end, over the past few years we established our firm presence on the world’s most popular media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Flickr, as well as services like Viber and VKontakte, which in our case are oriented slightly more towards the Russian-speaking audience.

That said, one of our goals is to deliver multilingual content with as little latency and as much outreach that we can possibly achieve. This, of course, applies to Facebook, where we have a “multi-purpose” account for both Russian and English-speaking followers. While the majority of our publications on this platform are indeed in Russian, all comments, statements and interviews related to the most pressing foreign policy issues, as well as coverage of Foreign Minister’s activities are translated into English.

As is the case with all our social media accounts, we rely primarily on the Foreign Ministry’s multilingual website as a source of news that we share on Facebook. This includes not only text publications, but also rich visual content provided by our own team of photographers, camera crews and IT engineers. Together, they enable our social media division to utilise the most advanced platform features, such as streaming Foreign Minister’s public appearances live from around the world directly to our Facebook account.

Facebook Profile of Maria Zakharova, Spokesperson of the Russian Foreign Ministry

Notably, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova has a very strong following on her personal accounts on Facebook (more than 400,000 people) and Instagram (around 150,000), where she acts as an expert on foreign policy issues. More to the point, a significant part of her own content is then shared on the Ministry’s official account, particularly her first-hand coverage of Minister’s visits abroad as well as comments and opinion on international issues. We have also seen a steady public interest in weekly press briefings, which are made readily available to our followers on Facebook. As a Foreign Ministry official and a social media influencer all in one, Maria Zakharova has been one of the driving forces behind our efforts in the field of digital diplomacy.

Another important asset in our work is the Russian digital diplomacy network of more than two hundred institutions (embassies, consulates, regional offices, permanent and trade missions). Most of them have a presence on Facebook and contribute significantly to our social media activity, both by sharing our content and by creating their own.

Of course, we do realize that making foreign policy news appealing and engaging is a serious challenge. This pushes us to embrace and build upon the opportunities offered by Facebook as a truly global social network. In many ways, our strategy is a constant process of trying out new ideas and looking at how the audience reacts. Over the years we have introduced notes, in-house made videos, infographics, stories, and even viral GIFs to complement our foreign policy coverage in a way that makes our content richer, visually appealing and more approachable to the public.

Finally, the progress we have made in the field of digital diplomacy would have been nearly impossible without us carefully listening to the feedback from our followers. We receive dozens of messages every day via our Facebook page alone with questions, suggestions and criticism. In fact, not only do we read them, but we also do our best to react to the situations where we can offer any assistance.

We are passionate about our work, and we’d highly value your input and ideas on how we could do what we love even better.

We’ll see you online!