Opening illustration: The Department of State’s flagship social media accounts communicate foreign policy priorities to a global audience. Images of tweets from flagship @StateDept, @SecBlinken, @StateDeptSpox, and @StateDeputySpox accounts highlight President Joe Biden’s Inaugural Address, Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s confirmation, and Spokesperson Ned Price’s first daily press briefing. Illustration by State Magazine
By Catherine Muller
For many people, social media is a way to share their lives, connect with friends and family, or keep up with the news, as curated by their friends. For the Office of Global Social Media, it’s a 24/7 business as the Department of State’s digital mouthpiece.
The Office of Global Social Media develops and deploys social media content and strategies to help drive the news cycle, advance global messaging campaigns, and support foreign policy priorities. To achieve these goals, the office manages the Department’s flagship social media accounts, including for the Department, the secretary of state, the spokesperson, and the deputy spokesperson on short-form platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, video platforms, and on the Department’s long-form blog platform, DipNote. The office also administers the Department’s social media management tool and provides strategy, support, and training to account managers worldwide.
The office’s Social Media Accounts Management Division keeps pace with U.S. foreign policy conduct, working to ensure the Department’s messages reach audiences around the world at the speed of today’s news cycle. Connecting audiences with Department officials in real-time is critical. The team ensures content like the Daily Press Briefing and speeches by high ranking White House and Department officials—as well as original social media content written by the team in the voices of Department principals—gets seen by millions of followers that the Department has garnered on social media. In 2020 alone, Global Social Media’s account managers produced 11,316 postings across all flagship accounts, reaching 2.1 billion social media users and generating 41.7 million engagements. The team consistently monitors engagement levels and adjusts accordingly, looking for new ways to connect with followers and work closely with offices across the Bureau of Global Public Affairs while reaching out to interlocutors across the Department for new content. Working with regional and functional bureaus across the Department, the team walks in lock-step with subject matter experts on practically every foreign policy priority.
The Department’s social media presence extends far beyond the flagship social media accounts to include those managed by U.S. embassies, consulates, and other diplomatic missions, as well as domestic offices and bureaus. This online network comprises more than 1,000 accounts and 80 million followers. Global Social Media’s Digital Strategy and Training Division is every Department social media practitioner’s “Phone a Friend” function, supporting this robust network by providing consultations, training, and guidance across the globe. As managers of the Social Media Solutions Desk—reachable by email—the team answers questions, consults on strategy, assists with new technologies, helps practitioners troubleshoot, and clarifies the Department’s social media policy. This lifeline has proven crucial to the Department’s social media practitioners working on digital communications worldwide. In 2020, the team resolved 2,358 social media support cases and led 122 consultations and training sessions, reaching more than 900 Department social media practitioners at U.S. embassies and consulates.
The Office of Global Social Media seeks avenues to amplify and engage across the full scope of the Department’s foreign policy priorities. Content is carefully crafted through collaboration with domestic bureaus and overseas missions. The team also solicits content from Department colleagues, encouraging them to submit new policy developments, announcements, or programs that can be amplified on the larger Department social media accounts.
Catherine Muller serves as an information officer in the Bureau of Global Public Affairs, Office of Global Social Media.