Place Branding and Public Diplomacy

, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 78–96 | Cite as

Hashtag diplomacy: twitter as a tool for engaging in public diplomacy and promoting US foreign policy

  • Stephen D. CollinsEmail author
  • Jeff R. DeWitt
  • Rebecca K. LeFebvre
Original Article


While national governments increasingly deploy digital diplomacy communication strategies to harness the power of social media, political scientists have paid sparse attention to certain aspects of this development. Our study endeavors to address this lacuna by employing content analysis and data-analytic methodologies to examine U.S. Twitter diplomacy. We leverage a robust dataset of tweets posted by leading foreign policy officials in the Obama administration to determine whether Twitter diplomacy exhibited a coherent communication strategy (per the rational actor model of foreign policy), or a more ad-hoc and disjointed practice (per the pluralist and bureaucratic politics models). Furthermore, this study assesses several variables relating to the efficacy of Twitter statecraft, including the formatting of tweets, and the resonance and geographic reach of tweets. We find that Twitter diplomacy under the Obama administration was largely rational; that is, it reflected the rational actor model, as the topic focus of tweets was proportional to stated U.S. foreign policy priorities.


Public diplomacy Digital diplomacy Twitter Foreign policy Rational actor 



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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Limited 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen D. Collins
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jeff R. DeWitt
    • 1
  • Rebecca K. LeFebvre
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Government & International AffairsKennesaw State UniversityKennesawUSA

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