Sunday

Public Diplomacy 2.0: India's social media initiatives

India's Public Diplomacy Division, in the last few months, has become very social media savvy. One can see a clear focus on digital diplomacy, apart from numerous other initiatives, for a more comprehensive engagement with global audiences. These are baby steps, but nonetheless the foundation for bigger campaigns in the future. It is heartening to note that Government of India recognizes that the future of media is digital and interactive.

The PD division this year launched the following: 
  1. A Twitter page (www.twitter.com/indiandiplomacy) with nearly 4000 followers and growing. Twitter is being currently used for updates and information on foreign policy. However, we can also see some conversations happening in the Twitter page. 
  2. A YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/indiandiplomacy) - My personal favorite. It hosts numerous interesting documentaries. I like the thinking behind this idea and it definitely has great potential.
  3. A blogger account (www.indiandiplomacy.blogspot.com)  for discussion on issues in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Distinguished Lecture Series. It is a good idea but the blog needs work in terms of customization of the URL, design, language and nature of conversations. The blog format of communication  is a bit different to be effective.
  4. A Facebook page (www.facebook.com/indiandiplomacy) - Its in fact a very good, colorful and interesting page. The great thing about Facebook is that you can experiment a lot with it and am sure with time this page will get better and better.
The PD division now has a brand new website (http://www.indiandiplomacy.in/AboutUs.aspx) which integrates all the above. It aims at generating positive mind share about India with regards to policy initiatives, showcasing India's soft power and also activities of various Indian diplomatic missions all over the world. I am not sure if, as per government rules, there can be a different name for it than the current "Indian Public Diplomacy." Something catchy and imaginative would do it good. Only if the rules allow for that! 


Definitely on the right track! Social Media can be a very effective tool for emerging economies for targeted engagement with overseas audiences, especially in the developed countries with high rates of PC and Internet penetration. However, care should be taken to ensure that it does not become a monologue as is the case with most government communications all across the world. This is always the biggest challenge for any government venturing into social media.


Suggestions/Critiques welcome.


-- Madhur
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