Tuesday, April 13, 2010

FSI on Social Media and Public Diplomacy

Digger of Life After Jerusalem has posted about her quick sojourn over at the Foreign Service Institute (or NFATC) for a course on new and social media (including, oh my long haired goat -- what you can't blog about)!  The keynote speaker for the course was John Matel of World Wide Matel.  He has a couple of items on public diplomacy and social media that I thought was interesting -- the notion of a flatter organization and a coherent message as X factor in the era of social media. Excerpt below:

There was mention of the problems of staffing.  Social media duties tend to get tacked onto the workload.  Since most posts are already working with reduced staffs and already “doing more with less,” this can be a strain.  There are no easy solutions to the staffing problem.   All of them involve priorities.  We agreed that posts need to identify who will be doing the new work and how much time it will take.  Then they have to ask and answer the question whether the new duties are important enough to displace old ones, and if so what.   Of course, social media will sometimes automatically displace older duties.   The need to copy, collate and distribute is vastly decreased because of the social media, for example.   As with most management decisions, it might be better to reengineer and/or eliminate whole sets of tasks rather than tinker around the edges.

A flatter hierarchy might be very helpful, since a great deal of time is spent getting clearances and making fairly meaningless cosmetic changes to documents.   The old saying that you shouldn’t spend a dollar to make a dime decision goes for wasting time too.

The medium is not the message

Finally, we have to recognize that the advent of social media may be less immediately revolutionary than we initially thought.   Most people still get their information through traditional media, especially television and radio.  When President Obama spoke in Cairo, for example, it was hailed as a social media success but almost everybody who saw the speech, saw it on television.   Even people who saw it later on Internet saw it essentially through the television lens, just delivered differently.  And following up on social media has not proven as successful as the original excitement would have implied.  You still have to have something to say and you still have to maintain relationships.   Social media will become increasingly important as components in the toolbox of public diplomacy, but it will never be a standalone technique.   Social media can support programs, but it never can be the program itself.  The medium is not the message.   

Continue reading Notes on Social Media & Public Diplomacy.

PowerPoint on Public Diplomacy Persuasion (republished with John Matel's permission):

Media Landscape FSI | April 12, 2010 (John Matel)

Continue reading Public Diplomacy Persuasion.  Check out John Matel's blog here.

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