Social media in public diplomacy : survey on the social media communication of the Finnish missions abroad
Today, social media is changing the way people communicate by giving the influence to the hands of the people. For organizations, it means that the issues of stakeholders are the focus of the communication, not the organizations. The question no longer is whether to use social media in public relations, but how to use it. In this research the social media communication of the Finnish missions abroad is studied. The missions have implemented social media as a part of their communication mainly since 2010. It is time to evaluate how the social media have been used so far, including an examination of what more social media can offer. It has been suggested that there is a need for re-evaluation of the theories of public relations due to the rise of social media. Therefore, in this thesis the theories of dialogue are inspected closer. In addition, this research tested the applicability of the Communication Grid (van Ruler 2004) in the context of social media. The purpose is to offer some guidelines about social media communication in the context of public diplomacy. Thus, the theoretical framework in this study is built on public relations in social media and public diplomacy. The research data was gathered by method triangulation: an interview with the communication specialists from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, a questionnaire to the missions, and observation on the social media sites of the missions. The results of this study suggest that there is a need for improvement in the dialogic communication on the missions’ social media. At the moment, it seems that the missions use social media rather as traditional media, than utilizing the potential for dialogue. Thus, the strategies of the Communication Grid were applicable in the social media communication of the missions but not fully taken advantage of. Social media is used by the missions mainly for information and persuasion strategies. In addition, a somewhat used strategy is consensus-building. However, the dialogue strategy, dialogue with the stakeholders, it not in use in the social media of the missions. Based on these findings, it is recommended that the missions considered engaging in social media also to participate, interact and share. Furthermore, this study suggests that instead of considering the strategies of the grid separately, it may be beneficial to see them as complementary and more so, often interwoven. ...
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