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Foreign policy live – the Federal Foreign Office in social media 

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06.05.2019 - Article

The Federal Foreign Office is expanding its online activities. Its headquarters in Berlin and its missions abroad now post and tweet worldwide in over 375 social media accounts.

Whether we are talking about cohesion in Europe, policy on Eastern Europe, or humanitarian emergencies, foreign policy stirs up a lot of emotions. Thanks to social media, the Federal Foreign Office is now able to communicate directly with members of the public. Since it began communicating via Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels a few years ago, its social media presence has constantly grown.

The Main channels

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas during a live chat
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas during a live chat© Felix Zahn / photothek.net

The Federal Foreign Office’s three main social media accounts – @AuswaertigesAmt on Facebook and @AuswaertigesAmt and @GermanyDiplo on Twitter – alone reach over a million people. The ministry also has over 111,000 followers on Instagram. Via these channels, the Federal Foreign Office reports on its work, communicates political messages and fosters public discussion. Controversial issues prompt hundreds, and sometimes more than thousand, user comments in a single day. Hundreds of users sometimes take part simultaneously in live chats on Facebook and Instagram with experts from the Federal Foreign Office, who answer their questions. A new feature are the Podcasts from our Posts, in which the Federal Foreign Office provides exclusive insight into its Ambassadors’ day-to-day working lives and their analyses. Social media enable the ministry to communicate more extensively, rapidly and directly than ever before.

Social media as part of the standard repertoire of our missions abroad

Moreover, Germany’s missions abroad now have over 350 social media accounts, which reach more than six million people around the world. In addition to Facebook and Twitter accounts, many missions are now on Instagram. And more and more Ambassadors and Consuls General – 35 at last count – have their own Twitter account. German Embassies and Consulates now use social media as a matter of course  to announce events, present Germany abroad, show what is happening behind the scenes and answer questions from members of the public.

Top diplomats in Berlin have their own Twitter accounts

Since December 2017, Federal Foreign Office Directors-General and Directors have posted on their own areas of foreign policy expertise. So far, there are 16 such accounts.  Some have a regional focus, for example on policy on Asia, Africa or Europe. Others focus on specific topics, such as Brexit, stabilisation, humanitarian assistance, digital transformation or the United Nations. The Crisis Response Centre has a Twitter account (@AA_SicherReisen) to supplement its Sicher Reisen app. The Policy Planning Staff also have a Twitter account that informs users about their work. Communication is thus being decentralised and content provided directly to those with an interest in specific topics.

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