House debates

Monday, 31 October 2011

Questions in Writing

Foreign Affairs and Trade: Social Media (Question No. 331)

Photo of Ms Julie BishopMs Julie Bishop (Curtin, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Trade) Share this | | Hansard source

asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, in writing, on 24 March 2011:

(1) Has his department undertaken any studies into the effectiveness of new social media in its public diplomacy campaigns; if so, when were they undertaken and what were the results.

(2) How many Australian embassies have (a) Facebook, (b) Twitter, and (c) Youtube, accounts, and where are these embassies located.

Photo of Kevin RuddKevin Rudd (Griffith, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Foreign Affairs) Share this | | Hansard source

The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) DFAT is currently trialling the use of social media to promote two major bilateral public diplomacy programs in North Asia: the Imagine Australia Year of Australian Culture in China 2010-11; and the Australia-Korea Year of Friendship 2011.

(a) Imagine Australia Year of Australian Culture in China

The Australian Embassy in Beijing has established a presence, in broadcast mode only, on three Chinese-language social media sites, similar to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. They include:

        The three accounts aim to promote the official program of events among Chinese audiences and to reinforce other forms of outreach. The accounts were launched in January 2011 and are accessible through the official Imagine Australia website managed by DFAT https://imagineaustralia.net/en/.

        The embassy has reported positively on the trial to date, concluding that social media will potentially become the premier platform for marketing the program. Regional outreach has been significantly stronger than anticipated, with subscriber interest coming from most provinces and regions across China. More detailed analysis of the effectiveness of these tools will be undertaken as the year progresses and the outcome of this trial will help inform future use of social media for public diplomacy campaigns.

        (b) Australia-Korea Year of Friendship 2011

        The bilateral Year of Friendship program marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Australia and the Republic of Korea. The Australian Embassy in Seoul is trialling the use of YouTube and a Korean-language i-Phone application to promote events on the official program to audiences in the Republic of Korea.

        They include:

            The i-Phone calendar application and YouTube account were launched in January 2011 and are accessible through the official Australia-Korea Year of Friendship website http://australiakorea50.com/ managed by DFAT. The effectiveness of these social media tools to promote the achievements of the past 50 years, and to raise public awareness of Australia in Korea and of the importance of the bilateral relationship to both countries, will be progressively assessed over the coming year and will be reported on in full at the conclusion of the program.

            (c) Other uses

            DFAT established a generic DFAT Twitter account on 7 April 2011. It seeks to complement the department's traditional communication channels, such as media releases and websites, in order to reach a wider and increasingly mobile audience, including people with limited internet access and travellers who may rely on Twitter for information. In times of consular crises, tweets will provide updates on fast-changing situations and will refer followers to the Department's websites, which remain the authoritative source of information. Twitter is an additional way of sharing information with the public about Australia's foreign and trade policies, latest travel advisories, media releases and breaking news, speeches, recruitment and the release of new publications.

            The launch of Twitter followed a number of limited, event-specific social media trials for consular purposes, including during the soccer world cup in South Africa, the Commonwealth games in India and the canonisation of Mary MacKillop in Rome. These trials highlighted the potential benefits of social media platforms as public communication tools but also reinforced the need to address a range of technical, resource and administrative issues, as well as associated risks.

            (2) (a) Facebook

            No Australian overseas mission currently has an active Facebook account.

            Two Australian overseas missions established Facebook accounts for specific time-limited consular purposes in 2010. They were the Australian High Commission in Pretoria for the soccer world cup and the Australian High Commission in New Delhi for the Commonwealth games. Both accounts are now closed.

            (b) Twitter

            One Australian overseas mission has an active Twitter-style account. The Australian Embassy in Beijing established Sina Microblog, a Chinese Twitter-style microblog account for message posts of up to 140 characters, photos and video, to promote the 2010-11 Imagine Australia Year of Australian Culture in China (see Question 1).

            Four Australian overseas missions previously established Twitter accounts for specific time-limited consular events. They were: the Australian High Commission in Pretoria for the 2010 soccer world cup; the Australian High Commission in New Delhi for the 2010 Commonwealth games; the Australian Embassy to the Holy See for the canonisation of St Mary MacKillop in October 2010 and the Australian Embassy in Chile in response to the earthquake in February 2010. These accounts are now closed.

            DFAT launched an official generic Twitter account (@dfat) on 7 April 2011. Its primary purpose is to complement the Department's traditional forms of communication and to accompany information published on its websites in order to reach a wider and increasingly mobile audience.

            (c) YouTube

            Two Australian overseas missions have active YouTube, or local equivalent, accounts.

            The Australian Embassy in Seoul established a YouTube account to promote official events associated with the Australia-Korea Year of Friendship 2011 and the Australian Embassy in Beijing established a Youku account (China's equivalent of YouTube) to promote official events associated with the 2010-11 Imagine Australia Year of Australian Culture in China. Both accounts were established in January 2011 (see Question 1).

            In addition, four dedicated YouTube channels have been established since December 2010. These include a DFAT channel and channels for Mr Rudd, Dr Emerson and Mr Marles.