About the Authors: Ed Dunn serves as Acting Director of Digital Communications in the Bureau of Public Affairs, Suzanne Hall serves as Senior Advisor for Innovation in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, and Nick Namba serves as Acting Deputy Coordinator for Content Development and Partnerships in the Bureau of International Information Programs.
The three of us were thrilled to speak to a packed house at the New America Foundation today during their Social Media Week panel on 'Public Diplomacy in the Age of Social Media.' O'Reilly Media's Alex Howard moderated the panel and framed the discussion around how public diplomacy efforts have moved from the analog to the digital space in recent years. Public Affairs' Ed Dunn described the Department's efforts to engage both media and general publics through online platforms, including holding Twitter Q&As with the spokesperson. Education and Cultural Affairs' Suzanne Hall discussed tech-focused initiatives, including a mobile English learning pilot in Tunisia, virtual exchanges and the importance of online and mobile engagement of alumni. International Information Programs' (IIP) Nick Namba discussed the success IIP has had growing the Department's online social media communities to a global audience of more than 4 million, and announced the 20/100 Social Media Challenge, in which the bureau will work with 20 embassies to boost their online communities by 100 percent.
Questions from both the physical and online audience revealed a great deal of interest in these topics, especially on the importance of people to people connections -- using these online tools to move the conversation and action offline -- and the importance of listening and two way dialogue. The panel provided an important opportunity to present the challenges and opportunities our public diplomats face in using social media tools to engage with publics around the world.
Our panel today was one of hundreds of events worldwide this week. Social Media Week continues through Friday and brings half a million people together in 21 cities and in online forums to advance understanding of social media's role in society. The State Department is energizing the effort to make this global event a success and share how technology and new media advance our foreign policy agenda. Tune in tomorrow at 12:00 p.m. EST to hear Alec Ross, Senior Advisor for Innovation, give a keynote speech from Social Media Week New York, where he'll share his observations on how social media is shifting power structures around the world.
To join the conversation on Twitter, follow @socialmediaweek, @SMWWDC and @SMWNYC and use the hashtags #SMW12, #SMWDC and #SMWNYC.