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The potential of the Romanian Foreign Ministry digital diplomacy

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The relevance of digital diplomacy has become unquestionable and, one by one, foreign ministries around the world are embracing this new form of engagement with foreign audiences. And from all current social networks, Twitter has established itself as THE channel of choice for diplomats.

If you wondered what the potential role of this channel might be for communication strategies of Foreign Ministries, Ilan Manor, Master’s students at Tel Aviv University, has answered this question in his series of articles published on the digdipblog.com, established as part of a University research project into the practice of Digital Diplomacy.

Ilan published an interesting article in May in which he mapped out the Twitter links between Foreign Ministries of 70 countries spanning the globe. At my expression of interest regarding the situation of the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ilan developed a great analysis, using the same algorithms, identifying the location of our institution in the Social Network of Foreign Ministries, excerpts of which I present here:

When Foreign Ministries Follow One Another: Nowadays, foreign ministries throughout the world routinely follow one another’s digital diplomacy channels (e.g., official twitter channel, official Facebook page). This enables foreign ministries to interact with their peers, gather relevant information on world affairs as they unfold and take part in international multi-lateral diplomatic negotiations. Given the fact that MFAs (Ministries of Foreign Affairs) follow one another, it is possible to imagine all links between MFAs as a social network. Once this approach is taken, one may analyze the social network of the world’s MFAs. Our analysis, presented below, includes a sample of the twitter accounts of 75 MFAs spanning the globe […]. In order to analyze the social network of the world’s MFAs we calculated three different parameters: in-degree, out-degree and betweenness.

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As can be seen in the image below, Romania (circled in red) is at the very heart of this social network.

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The In-Degree Parameter: The in-degree parameter essentially measures an MFAs popularity within the network. For instance, the US State Department has the highest in-degree score as it is followed by 44 of the 75 MFAs in the sample. The MFAs with the highest in degree score (circled in red in the image below) are: USA, UK, Poland, Russia, Israel, Sweden, France, India, Turkey and Norway. Romani’s MFA comes in at 16th place meaning that is surpasses 59 other MFAs. This is a relatively high score.

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The Out-Degree Parameter: The out-degree parameter, which indicates the amount of ministries with whom each ministry has contact, is of paramount importance in this network as the higher a ministry’s out-degree score, the greater its ability to disseminate information throughout the network. The country with the highest out-degree is Iceland followed by Sweden, Israel, Norway, Russia, Kosovo, Peru, Brazil and Bulgaria (circled in red in the image below). Romania’s MFA comes in at 13th place, a very high score in this parameter. This indicates that the MFA is strategically located in the social network of world MFAs and is able to disseminate foreign policy messages throughout the entire network.

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The Betweenness Parameter: Calculating the betweenness parameter reveals which ministries serve as important hubs of information as they link together ministries that do not follow one another. For instance, Israel is followed India and Pakistan yet India and Pakistan do not follow one another. Thus, Israel links them together and is an important hub of information. The countries with the highest betweenness score (circled in the image below) are: Sweden, USA, UK, Israel, Russia, Poland, Norway, Brazil, Romania (which comes in at 9th place) and Iceland.

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Summary: Romania’s MFA seems to be located at the very heart of the social network of the world’s MFAs. It scores relatively high on the in-degree and out-degree parameter and extremely high in the betweenness parameter. Thus, the MFA has a large following, is connected to many other MFAs and serves as an important hub of information. However, it should be remembered that these results only illustrate the potential Romania’s digital diplomacy. In order to reach this potential, the Romanian MFA must continuously publish content on digital diplomacy channels and actively engage with its followers, be they individuals, reporters or other MFAs.”

The analysis can be read in full here.

Having this is mind, we welcome the renewed interest of the Romanian Foreign Ministry in communicating through social media and we look forward to witnessing an even higher level of engagement both at central level, as well as at the level of diplomatic missions abroad.

Published by

Andra Alexandru

Specialist în Comunicare și Relații Internaționale, cu experiență profesională în diplomație publică și comunicare instituțională.

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