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Digital Diplomacy via Social Networks: A Cross-National Analysis of Governmental Usage of Facebook and Twitter for Digital Engagement

Ittefaq, Muhammad

  • Published : 2019.07.22

Abstract

Over the last couple of years, digital diplomacy has become a fascinating area of research among Mass Communication, Peace and Conflict Studies, and International Affairs scholars. Social media and new technology open up new avenues for governments, individuals, and organizations to engage with foreign audiences. However, developing countries' governments are still lacking in the realization of the potential of social media. This study aims to analyze the usage of social media (Facebook & Twitter) by the two biggest countries in South Asia (Pakistan and India). I selected 10 government officials' social media accounts including prime ministers', national press offices', military public relations offices', public diplomacy divisions', and ministries of foreign offices' profiles. The study relies on quantitative content analysis and a comparative research approach. The total number of analyzed Twitter tweets (n=1,015) and Facebook posts (n=1,005) include 10 accounts, five from each country. In light of Kent and Taylor's (1998) dialogic communication framework, the results indicate that no digital engagement and dialogue occurs between government departments and the public through social networking sites. Government departments do not engage with local or foreign audiences through digital media. When comparing both countries, results reveal that India has more institutionalized and organized digital diplomacy. In terms of departmental use of social media, the digital diplomacy division and foreign office of India is more active than other government departments in that nation. Meanwhile, Pakistan's military public relations office and press office is more active than its other government departments. In conclusion, both countries realize the potential of social media in digital diplomacy, but still lack engagement with foreign audiences.

Keywords

digital diplomacy;digital engagement;dialogic communication theory;Indo-Pak;social networking sites;e-diplomacy;government departments