Eileen Guo, huffingtonpost.com
image from articleExcerpt:
5. Direct Diplomacy
Social media can be used as a tool of direct communication between governments and foreign organizations, civil society and even citizens of other states. This falls under the category of public diplomacy.
Notable examples include the U.S. Embassy-Beijing's account on Sina Weibo in China, one of the largest and most popular social networks in that country, which publishes a daily report on air quality in Beijing; the @Sweden Twitter account, which gives control of the handle to a different Swedish citizen each week, painting an alternative and more "genuine" picture of Sweden than official channels normally allow; or the banter and bickering between @ISAF, the official account of the International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan and the Taliban.
The objectives of these social media public diplomacy engagements differ in each case, but overall their goal is to provide an alternative narrative -- and platform -- for countries to influence their image abroad.
These scenarios of how governments are using social media are non-exhaustive and non-prescriptive. As social media use around the world increases and evolves, governmental use of the platforms will increase and evolve as well. While this piece aims to provide an overview of what governments are currently doing, perhaps the next question is, "What they should be doing?"