Social Media, the State Department…and you

Posted by on May 14, 2009 | 0 comments

Social Media, the State Department…and you

One of the goals I have always tried to pursue with this blog is showing how new media and/or social media are making inroads in places where you might not expect. I also endeavor to give you a reason to care. It’s great that everyone is on Twitter, but so what? Facebook is growing faster than the population. And?

So with that in mind, and marrying technology with my other great interest-politics, I bring you today’s item of interest.

Obama gets all the credit for making this the most technologically savvy campaign and Administration ever, right? But there have been things going on at the State Department for awhile now that are worth noting. The Office of eDiplomacy is been around since 2003 with a mandate to improve communication inside and oustide the State Department. They have been blogging since 2007, at the unfortunately named Dipnote, and are active on Twitter. (As a nice feature, they show who is manning the Twitter feed at any given time. When I checked in at around 9:30pm, Daniel was holding down the Twit fort.)

So, is anyone paying attention? Apparently so. Blog visits are up 100% from 10,000 to 20,000 per day, Twitter followers have tripled since Inauguration Day, and they have 2 1/2 times the number of Facebook friends. So I guess I am not the only techno-politico geek out there.

OK- so what? The last election and the massive mobilization of voters directly because of their ability to get, share and create infomation online was the beginning of a significant shift in the relationship that we all could (and many of us do) have with the government. The traditional focus, especially at the State Department, has been from government to government. But what if that focus shifted to government to people, people to government and people to people? There is too much going on on the international stage and the stakes are too high. Many people are not content to be spectators anymore. Previously disenfranchised people or those of us who felt helpless to effect change now have a way of networking with one another as well as back to Foggy Bottom. As Secretary Clinton recently pointed out, “…[this] is the heart of smart power. This changing landscape requires us to expand our concept of diplomacy.” She went on to cite the example of the Columbia grads who used the Million Strong Against the FARC Facebook group “to organize 14 million people in the largest anti terrorism demonstrations in the world. In a few short weeks, their actions did as much damage to the terrorist networks as years of military action.”

Pretty strong stuff. The power of social media helped get at least one guy elected, a lesson probably not lost on Mrs. Clinton.

More information from TechPresident.

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