Is there a point to meme-diplomacy? BlueDot’s Moira Whelan weighs in.
by BlueDot Strategies featuring Moira Whelan
This week Iran issued a longstanding threat against Israel in an unexpected way: via tweet. What happened next is a use case in meme-diplomacy. Israel tweeted back. More surprising, the government tweeted back not with an official statement but with a GIF from the movie Mean Girls.
Social media lit up and the media took notice.
One journalist who set out to explore the questions raised by this viral instance of “digital diplomacy” was Jack Crosbie at Observer. His question, “what’s the point of meme-diplomacy?” For answers, he turned to BlueDot Strategies’ founding partner Moira Whelan, an expert in the areas of international engagement and technology and policy:
“It’s less to do with getting likes and retweets, and more about engaging the public in a way that makes diplomacy more successful,” Moira Whelan, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of State for Digital Strategy during the Obama administration, told Observer. “There are audiences on social media that aren’t watching broadcast news anymore, and you need to do things that will make you relevant to the conversation.” Whelan said that over the past few years, traditionally “buttoned up” organizations have started to deploy more humor.
For more from Moira on digital diplomacy, including insights into the use of social media by the Russians, read Jack Crosbie’s article at Observer.com.