Advertisement

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

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Public diplomacy Digital diplomacy Twitter Foreign policy Rational actor 

Notes

References

  1. Allison, G. 1969. Conceptual models and the Cuban Missile Crises. The American Political Science Review 63 (3): 689–718.Google Scholar
  2. Archetti, C. 2012. The impact of new media on diplomatic practice: An evolutionary model of change. The Hague Journal of Diplomacy 7 (2): 181–206.Google Scholar
  3. Bean, H., and E. Comor. 2017. Data driven public diplomacy: A critical and reflexive assessment. All Azimuth 2017: 1–16.Google Scholar
  4. Bjola, C. 2015a. Digital diplomacy: Theory and practice. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Bjola, C. 2015b. Introduction: Making sense of digital diplomacy. In Digital diplomacy: Theory and practice, ed. C. Bjola and M. Holmes, 1–9. New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  6. Bjola, C., and L. Jiang. 2015. Social media and public diplomacy: A comparative analysis of the digital diplomatic strategies of the EU, US and Japan in China. In Digital diplomacy: Theory and practice, ed. C. Bjola and M. Holmes. London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Bjola, C., and I. Manor. 2018. Revisiting Putnam’s two-level game theory in the digital age: domestic digital diplomacy and the Iran nuclear deal. Cambridge Review of International Affairs 31 (1): 3–32.Google Scholar
  8. Burston-Marsteller. 2017. Twiplomacy study 2017, http://twiplomacy.com/blog/twiplomacy-study-2017/. Accessed 6 June 2018.
  9. Cha, M., Haddadi, H, Benevenuto, F, and Gummadi, K. 2010. Measuring user influence in twitter: The million follower fallacy. In Proceedings of the Fourth International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media (pp. 10–17).Google Scholar
  10. Clarke, A. 2015. Business as usual? An evolution of British and Canadian digital diplomacy as policy change. In Digital diplomacy theory and practice, ed. C. Bjola and M. Holmes, 111–126. Oxon: Routledge.Google Scholar
  11. Collins, N. and K. Bekenova. 2018. Digital diplomacy: Success at your fingertips. Place Branding and Public Diplomacy (January), 1–11.Google Scholar
  12. Comor, E., and H. Bean. 2012. America’s ‘engagement’ delusion: Critiquing a public diplomacy consensus. International Communication Gazette 74 (3): 203–220.Google Scholar
  13. Council on Foreign Relations. 2001. Improving the U.S. Public Diplomacy Campaign In the War Against Terrorism, 6 November 2001, https://cfrd8-files.cfr.org/sites/default/files/pdf/2001/12/Public_Diplomacy.pdf. Accessed 15 Dec 2018.
  14. Cull, N. 2013. Public diplomacy: Seven lessons for its future from its past. Place Branding and Public Diplomacy 6 (1): 11–17.Google Scholar
  15. Ember, S. 2015. Digital ad spending expected to soon surpass TV. The New York Times, 7 December 2015, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/07/business/media/digital-ad-spending-expected-to-soon-surpass-tv.html. Accessed 2 March 2017.
  16. Foreign Affairs. 2015. Obama’s World: Leading experts assess the President’s foreign policy record thus far, in new issue of foreign affairs, Foreign Affairs, 19 August, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/press/2015-08-19/obama-s-world-leading-experts-assess-president-s-foreign-policy-record-thus-far-new. Accessed 28 Jan 2018.
  17. Foreign Affairs. 2018. Website, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/topics/economics?cid=int-gna&pgtype=hpg. Accessed 28 January 2018.
  18. George, A. 1980. Presidential decisionmaking in foreign policy: The effective use of information and advice. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  19. Gregory, B. 2008. Public diplomacy: Sunrise of an academic field. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 616 (1): 274–290.Google Scholar
  20. Gregory, B. 2011. American public diplomacy: Enduring characteristics, elusive transformation. The Hague Journal of Diplomacy 6 (3–4): 351–372.Google Scholar
  21. Hallams, E. 2010. Digital Diplomacy: The internet, the battle for ideas & U.S. foreign policy. CEU Political Science Journal 4: 538–574.Google Scholar
  22. Hanson, F. 2012. Revolution@ state: The spread of eDiplomacy. Sydney, NSW: Lowy Institute for International Policy.Google Scholar
  23. Harris, B. 2013. Diplomacy 2.0: The future of social media in nation branding. Exchange: The Journal of Public Diplomacy 4 (1): 3.Google Scholar
  24. Hayden, C., D. Waisanesn, and Y. Osipova. 2013. Facilitating the conversation: The 2012 U.S. presidential election and public diplomacy through social media. American Behavioral Scientist 57 (11): 1623–1642.Google Scholar
  25. Hocking, B., and J. Melissen. 2015. Diplomacy in the Digital Age. Netherlands: Clingendael.Google Scholar
  26. Howard, P., and M. Parks. 2012. Social media and political change: Capacity, constraint and consequence. Journal of Communication 62 (2): 359–362.Google Scholar
  27. Internet World Stats. 2018. Internet world stats: Usage and population statistics. http://www.internetworldstats.com/. Accessed 15 Dec 2018.
  28. Kampf, R., I. Manor, and E. Segev. 2015. Digital diplomacy 2.0? A cross-national comparison of public engagement in Facebook and Twitter. The Hague Journal of Diplomacy 10 (4): 331–362.Google Scholar
  29. Khatib, L., W.H. Dutton, and M. Thelwall. 2012. Public diplomacy 2.0: An exploratory case study of the U.S. digital outreach team. The Middle East Journal 66 (3): 453–472.Google Scholar
  30. Leight, N., S. Badawi Walton, T. Ananian, M. Cruz-Enriquez, and K. Jarwaharlal. 2011. PDiN quarterly—trends in public diplomacy: January, February and March 2011. Place Branding and Public Diplomacy 7 (2): 136–149.Google Scholar
  31. Luo, Y., and H. Jiang. 2012. A dialogue with social media experts: Measurement and challenges of social media use in Chinese public relations practice. Global Media Journal 2: 57–74.Google Scholar
  32. Malone, G. 1985. Managing public diplomacy. Washington Quarterly 8 (3): 199–213.Google Scholar
  33. Maher, H. 2018. Leader of the free world: Obama’s 2nd-term foreign-policy priorities. The Atlantic, 7 November, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/11/leader-of-the-free-world-obamas-2nd-term-foreign-policy-priorities/264841/. Accessed 28 Jan 2018.
  34. Manor, I. 2016. Are we there yet: Have MFAs realized the potential of digital diplomacy?. Brill: Leiden.Google Scholar
  35. Manor, Ilan. 2018. Should diplomats dump social media? Digital Diplomacy, dipblog, February 8, 2018. https://digdipblog.com/2018/02/08/should-diplomats-dump-social-media/.
  36. Manor, I. 2018b. The digitalization of diplomacy: Toward clarification of a fractured terminology. Working Paper No 2. Oxford Digital Diplomacy Research Group, January, http://www.qeh.ox.ac.uk/sites/www.odid.ox.ac.uk/files/DigDiploROxWP2.pdf.
  37. Manor, I. and M. Holmes. 2018. Palestine in Hebrew: Overcoming the Limitations of Traditional Diplomacy. Revista Mexicana de Política Exterior 113 (May-August): 163–183.Google Scholar
  38. Manor, I., and E. Segev. 2015. America’s selfie: How the US portrays itself on its social media accounts. Digital Diplomacy: Theory and Practice 2015: 89–108.Google Scholar
  39. Metzgar, E.T. 2012. The medium is not the message: Social media, American public diplomacy & Iran. Global Media Journal-American Edition 11 (21): 1–16.Google Scholar
  40. Metzl, J.F. 2001. Network diplomacy. Georgetown Journal of International Affairs 2 (Winter): 77–87.Google Scholar
  41. Obama, B. 2009. First inaugural address. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2009/01/21/president-barack-obamas-inaugural-address. Accessed 28 Jan 2018.
  42. Obama, Barack. 2013. Second inaugural address. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2013/01/21/inaugural-address- president-barack-obama. Accessed 28 Jan 2018.
  43. Obama, Barack. 2015. Tweet. 12 December, https://mobile.twitter.com/POTUS44/status/675812094902714369. Accessed 31 Jan 2018.
  44. Optimizing Engagement: Research, Evaluation, and Learning in Public Diplomacy. 2018. Report by M&C Saatchi for the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy (ACPD) at the US Department of State (April).Google Scholar
  45. Pamment, J. 2013. New public diplomacy in the 21st century. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  46. Pamment, J. 2014. The mediatization of diplomacy. The Hague Journal of Diplomacy 9 (3): 253–280.Google Scholar
  47. Pamment, J. 2015. Digital diplomacy as transmedia engagement: Aligning theories of participatory culture with international advocacy campaigns. New Media & Society 18 (9): 2046–2062.Google Scholar
  48. Parshley, L. 2012. Grading Obama’s foreign policy: Nine experts rate the President’s job so far. Foreign Policy, 24 January 24. http://foreignpolicy.com/2012/01/24/grading-obamas-foreign-policy/. Accessed 5 Feb 2018.
  49. Payne, G., E. Savin, and S. Bruya. 2011. Grassroots 2.0: Public diplomacy in the digital age. Comunicao Publica 6 (10): 45–70.Google Scholar
  50. Pelling, J. 2016. Public diplomacy in the age of networks: Midwives4all. Place Branding and Public Diplomacy 12 (2): 201–209.Google Scholar
  51. Sandre, A. 2013a. ‘Fast Diplomacy’: The Future of Foreign Policy?, Huffington Post, 13 August, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/andreas-sandre/fast-diplomacy_b_3416330.html. Accessed 6 Dec 2018.
  52. Sandre, A. 2013b. Twitter for diplomats. Diplofoundation and Istituto Diplomatico. https://issuu.com/diplo/docs/twitter_for_diplomats. Accessed 1 March 2018.
  53. Sandre, A. 2015. Digital diplomacy. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.Google Scholar
  54. Seib, P. 2012. Real-time diplomacy: Politics and power in the social media era. New York: Palgrave-Macmillan.Google Scholar
  55. Sevin, E. 2017. A multi-layered approach to public diplomacy evaluation: Pathways of connection. Politics & Policy 45 (5): 879–901.Google Scholar
  56. ShareAmerica. 2015. What are President Obama’s foreign policy goals for 2015? https://share.america.gov/president-obamas-foreign-policy-goals/. Accessed 28 Jan 2018.
  57. Slaughter, A. 2009. America’s edge: Power in the networked century. Foreign Affairs 88 (1): 94–113.Google Scholar
  58. Statista. 2018. “Number of monthly active Twitter users worldwide from 1st quarter 2010 to 2nd quarter 2016 (in millions).” http://www.statista.com/statistics/282087/number-of-monthly-active-twitter-users/. Accessed 26 Jan 2018.
  59. Strauß, N., S. van Der Kruikemeier, H. Meulen, and G. van Noort. 2015. Digital diplomacy in GCC countries: Strategic communication of Western embassies on Twitter. Government Information Quarterly 32 (4): 369–379.Google Scholar
  60. Twiplomacy. 2016. Twiplomacy study 2016. http://twiplomacy.com/blog/twiplomacy-study-2016/. Accessed 2 March 2017.
  61. U.S. Embassy and Consulates in India. 2016. Technology, Innovation and American Diplomacy in the 21st Century’—Remarks by Ambassador Verma at Lehigh University. https://in.usembassy.gov/technology-innovation-american-diplomacy-21st-century-remarks-ambassador-verma-lehigh-university/. Accessed 6 Dec 2018.
  62. U.S. Department of State. 2018. “Organization Chart” and “Policy Issues” map. https://www.state.gov/policy/. Accessed 28 Jan 2018.
  63. Yarchi, M., S. Azran, and B. Lidor. 2017. Facebook users’ engagement with Israel’s public diplomacy messages during the 2012 and 2014 military operations in Gaza. Place Branding and Public Diplomacy 13 (4): 360–375.Google Scholar
  64. Yepsen, E. 2012. Practicing successful twitter diplomacy: A model and case study of US efforts in Venezuela. Los Angeles: Figueroa Press.Google Scholar
  65. Zhang, J. 2013. A strategic issue management (SIM) approach to social media use in public diplomacy. American Behavioral Scientist 57 (9): 1312–1331.Google Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations