Thursday, December 30, 2010

Facebook Diplomacy: Top 10 US Embassy Facebook Pages Worldwide (2010)

This is an end of the year list of top Facebook pages by embassy and constituent posts. Unlike the previous one we put together here, this one purposely excluded the Information Resource Centers and the American Centers from this ranking.

Indonesia, Jakarta
U.S. Embassy - Jakarta, Indonesia 

Indonesia, Surabaya 
US Consulate General Surabaya 
Bolivia, La Paz
Embajada de Estados Unidos en La Paz
Sri Lanka, Colombo
U.S. Embassy Colombo, Sri Lanka

Paraguay, Asuncion
Embajada de los Estados Unidos en Paraguay
Philippines, Manila 
U.S. Embassy, Manila Philippines 
South Africa, Pretoria
United States Mission to South Africa

Peru, Monterrico 
Embajada de Estados Unidos en Peru 

France, Paris 
U.S. Embassy France               

Ecuador, Guayaquil
Consulado General de los Estados Unidos en Guayaquil

The US State Department maintains 223 Facebook pages according to the Dashboard put together by the Office of Innovation. It has a total of 1,546,972 fans. We note the following:

  • 12 Facebook pages for Information Resource Centers and only two made it to the 10,000+ fan-mark
Argentina, Buenos Aires Information Resource Center  
WHA      35,723 fans
Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo IRC Santo Domingo
WHA      17,123 fans

  • Of the 27 American Corner FB pages, only three made it to the 5,000+ fan-mark.
India, New Delhi      SCA      12,519
India, Mumbai          SCA        9,814
Vietnam, Hanoi        EAP         5,337
  • We also note that US Mission Egypt has four FB pages (2 IRCs, Study USA-Egypt and U.S. Embassy Cairo News and Information).  US Embassy Algeria also has four FB pages (Cons Section-American Citizen Services, Cons Section - Visa Unit, Alumni & Education Advising and Access Program Embassy). It makes no sense to us why a Consular Section would have two FB pages. You need people to run these pages if you are planning to do this right. It may be that each unit has a very willing volunteer, but what happens when the volunteer moves on? Without a real outreach plan, and without full management buy-in, these pages (or official blogs) will be difficult to sustain. (A side note -- US Embassy London used to have at least 4 blogs, one is now inaccessible, and the American Culturati died when its blogger rotated to his new post).     
  • We think that FB pages with minimal/sporadic updates are as bad, or even worse than being absent in FB. At least when you do not have an FB presence, you can only be faulted for your absence. When you have an FB page but do not have timely updates, that's like coming to a party and reading a book. It also comes across as if post is not quite prepared or engaged in its own digital outreach. Consular Section - U.S. Consulate General Johannesburg for instance has 92 fans and has not been updated since September. Our other pet peeve is FB pages with no local material.  U.S. Mission Uganda on FB has 151 fans and no local news or update on what this mission is doing in Africa.  Why bother reading it there when you can go to and read all the same full postings in one site?           
  • We're pleased to see that the Dashboard has been refined to pull up the FB rankings by post type and by region.  We are hoping that the top gainers and bottom losers statistics eventually can also go back in multiple date range. That would give FB post handlers a grip on whether they are moving forward or backward in their digital efforts.
Some special mention ---        

US Mission Indonesia on Facebook (Jakarta, Surabaya, Medan)

The US Embassy Jakarta/Facebook with 300,647 fans is #1 in the Top Pages of the State Department's FB pages (domestic and worldwide).  US Consulate General Surabaya with 34,319 is #9 in the Top Pages and the only constituent post in the top pages. 

Since the Presidential visit to Indonesia which bumped US Embassy Jakarta's page up the 300,000 fan-mark, Jakarta has continued to be one of the five top gainers.  But lately, we've also seen Consulate General Lahore in Pakistan, enter the scene as one of the top gainers.  This is not unexpected.  We should mention that the guy who built up US Embassy Jakarta's FB presence (with his local team) is Tristram Perry who is now the Information Officer at the US ConGen in Lahore. Consulate Surabaya's FB effort was under Andie DeArment ; she is now the Information Officer at US ConGen in Karachi.    

It might be that US Embassy Jakarta has a unique place in the Facebook universe. After all, President Obama did spend part of his childhood in Jakarta and he is remembered fondly there. Although favorable views of President Obama in Indonesia dropped by five points in 2010, the Indonesians remain at 65% in their levels of confidence and approval of the US President.

We think it also helps that Indonesia is second only to the United States on Facebook users by countries with some 31,784,080 users and a 13.11% penetration rate. Of course, out of an estimated 2010 population of 242,968,342. 

And this made us wonder about Kenya --

If Jakarta is a unique place due to President Obama's childhood connection to Indonesia, what about Kenya, where the entire country claim President Obama as a native son (even though the 44th president was not born here, barely knew his father and did not visit Kenya until adulthood)?

Here is what US Embassy Kenya's Facebook page looks like:

U.S. Embassy Nairobi      Embassy      AF      1,662

Not quite a fair comparison given that Kenya is #67 among Facebook users by country, has only 997,120 users and an FB penetration rate of 2.49%.   Still, we think it's worth mentioning that the latest data put Kenya's internet users at almost 4 million, with an internet penetration rate of 10.0 % and a user growth rate from 2000-2010 at 1,897.8 %.  A smaller pool, but certainly quite an opportunity.

US Mission Pakistan on Facebook (Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad, Peshawar)

The challenge of Facebook diplomacy in Pakistan is quite  daunting. Well, all work is daunting there, in fact.  According to the Pew Global Attitudes Project in 2009, only 13% of Pakistani Muslims expressed confidence in President Obama, but this year even fewer (8%) hold this view.  By comparison, in Indonesia this number is 65%.   The United States favorability rating in Indonesia is also at 59% while in Pakistan it is at 17%.  

Also, Pakistan is #31 in Facebook users by countries with 3,145,840 users, a +37.99% growth rate in the last six months and an FB penetration rate of  1.77%. But if you look at the numbers below, you will note that internet users in Pakistan have grown almost ten times that of Indonesia in the last ten years.
Internet Use (Via Internet World Stats)

Pakistan Est 2010 population:    177,276,594
Internet users latest data:             18,500,000
Penetration rate                                 10.4 %
User growth 2000-2010            13,716.3 %

Indonesia Est 2010 population:  242,968,342
Internet users latest data              30,000,000
Penetration rate                                 12.3 %
User growth 2000-2010              1,400.0 %

It will probably be a hard slog for our folks there.  But where's the fun without the challenge? 

To the digital outreach team at US Mission Pakistan -- here's looking at you kids!  We'll be peeking over your shoulders the next year .... 


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