EU Delegation and Global Gateway Advisors hold inaugural ‘Diplomacy Online’ conference

Digital diplomacy – or the broad use of technology, particularly the Internet and social media, in fostering diplomacy – has increasingly become a critical and strategic outlet for political leaders and diplomats to communicate and advocate for foreign policy.

On October 20, 2022, Global Gateway Advisors and the European Union Delegation to the United States held the inaugural Diplomacy Online conference at Convene in Arlington, VA. Officials from embassies, foreign ministries, the U.S. government, think tanks, communication consultancies and NGOs gathered to discuss strategies to strengthen international relations through social media. Attendees participated in a series of workshops and panels on topics ranging from digitizing public diplomacy to harnessing the power of TikTok.

Matthew Doering, CEO and Founder of Global Gateway Advisors, guided a panel discussion on ‘Lessons from Ukraine: Addressing Conflict Online’ alongside Alejandro Remesal Royo, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Strategic Communications, Public Diplomacy, and Social Media at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Spain, and Dr. Jennifer Cassidy, Professor of Digital Diplomacy at the University of Oxford. The panel delved into how the war in Ukraine led to the digital transformation of public diplomacy in times of crisis. Speakers emphasized the importance of proactively managing the social narrative to influence dialogue.

The panelists suggested several strategies diplomats should consider when mitigating crises online:

  1. Be quick, proactive and have a framework ready before the crisis. Use monitoring tools and be aware of the ongoing dialogue around the event.
  2. Create timely, authentic content to further engage with your specific audience and control your narrative.
  3. Answer questions and maintain authenticity in dialogue across social platforms. It is essential to be prepared to address questions as they arise.

Shortly after the panel, Doering sat down with Anne-Claire Legendre, Spokesperson for the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs in France, to discuss her approach to diplomacy on social media.

Later, Scott Nolan Smith, Senior Director of International Affairs at Global Gateway Advisors, and Dr. Jennier Golbeck, Professor at the University of Maryland, shared their insights for driving impactful conversations across social media during a fireside chat on ‘Creating Content for Conversation.’ The discussion emphasized the importance of quality over quantity and the need to plan ahead, even for real-time events such as Climate Week NYC or an unfolding world event. Diplomats must prioritize content that ignites meaningful engagement.

The digitalization of public diplomacy has sparked many questions about how governments can control the information and content they want users to see, react to and relate to. Ukrainian government officials have shaped a new era of diplomacy by sharing humorous content and using a unique tone of voice to establish open and transparent governance.

As social media becomes an essential part of diplomatic relations, it is more critical than ever for governments, organizations and brands to connect and communicate proactively with their followers. We look forward to more conversation and discovering new ways to ignite dialogue, engagement and excitement in international affairs online.