Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India was one of the first states to recognise the power of Facebook and the importance of creating a digital buzz. With this in mind, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs partnered with Facebook to create a landing page to host all of the Ministry’s social media handles, as well as those of all missions and postings. Through this page, individuals can access 531 points of contact with the MEA, including ministry Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and websites. A clickable map allows users to find their point of contact easily – a feature which may prove to be crucial in times of emergency. With over two million followers and in leveraging all available Facebook tools – Facebook live, photos, videos and events – the MEA disproves the idea that all government officials and ministries are slow to adopt new digital media.By November 2016, the MEA Facebook page had over 11 million interactions and 5 million views.

MFAs and embassies from around the world have recognised that international events, national holidays, and other important occasions can be excellent hooks for social media content. The MEA is particularly proactive on this front. Modi himself is said to be spearheading an initiative to reclaim yoga as an historic part of Indian culture, thereby contributing to the country’s soft power. Leading an effective digital campaign around an international event can be a highly effective way not only in increasing engagement, but also in advancing wider foreign policy objectives.

The MEA has also been quick on the uptake of Facebook Live, broadcasting high profile events such as the External Action Minister’s annual press conference in 2016, which had reached over 1.2 million people.

Lessons for organisations:

  • Engage Facebook directly and leverage the platform as a hub
  • Post various types of content regularly to reach a wider audience and keep them engaged.
  • Use events as an opportunity to launch social media campaigns and as a way to advance wider foreign policy objectives.
  • Use hashtags and tag high profile individuals.
  • Identify new trends and do not be afraid to try them out.
  • Collaborate with different government ministries, organisations and individuals.