Yesterday, our Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy, Tara Sonenshine, held a Twitter Q & A, answering your questions on everything from exchange programs in Pakistan to who inspires her (her children). Earlier this week, the Secretary of State's Senior Advisor for Innovation, Alec Ross, spoke to 100 European Union public diplomacy professionals in Brussels, where he underscored the importance of social media in 21st Century Statecraft. One point they both emphasized was that social media is a place for listening and discussing, not just talking.
It was also one of the points I took away from my trip last week to the Republic of Korea, where I gave the keynote at the East West Center's annual International Media Conference. The three-day conference was an excellent opportunity to meet those in international news and hear from them on subjects such as covering the news in restricted media environments and adapting to the changing information environment; to hear from digital innovators on the challenges and opportunities in reinventing news business models; and, for me, to discuss Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's 21st Century Statecraft agenda and the role social media plays in diplomacy.
The conference underscored for me the shared opportunities and challenges that governments, civil society organizations, and news rooms are facing in the digital realm. How do you deliver timely, accurate yet interesting content? How do you measure success? In a world in which 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, it can be challenging to ensure your content is front and center. These and other questions were touched on by Al Jazeera's social media chief Riyaad Minty, who noted the measure of Al Jazeera's success is the consumption of its content. He and others at the conference also made a point -- with which I whole-heartedly agree -- while there is certainly a need to move fast in the digital realm, it is imperative to be accurate. The credibility of an organization is closely tied with its accuracy, so while the State Department strives to keep pace with today's 15-minute Twitter timeline, we want to ensure that the information we are sharing with our friends and followers is accurate.
Another question frequently raised was: how is social media changing the responsiveness of governments around the world? In my comments, I touched on how governments are designed to be responsive to people, and social media is giving citizens around the world a more direct voice in policy conversations and more timeliness from governments around the world. One participant later picked up on this theme, discussing how the Vietnamese government and media was influenced to focus on and address a land rights protest that was being widely covered on social media.
Secretary Clinton has made 21st Century Statecraft a key part of the Department's foreign policy agenda, using technology, digital networks, and innovation to meet the diplomatic and development challenges of the 21st century. She wants us to take "smart risks," utilizing these new communications tools in innovative ways in pursuit of our policy objectives.
Twenty-first Century Statecraft doesn't just mean us using the technology: it means listening to what people are saying. Social media affords us the opportunity to better understand events on the ground and the perspective of citizens around the world, which brings greater richness to our diplomatic engagements.
That's why the Department has to constantly innovate and try new things to keep pace with the times. In the interconnected a world in which we live, we cannot go about this on our own: we must be willing and able to share our ideas and collaborate with stakeholders across oceans, languages and cultures. Engagement is part of the spade work of diplomacy. Providing information, answering questions, and sharing ideas with people is what diplomacy is all about -- and it is the end goal of our social media strategy.
But engagement does not end with digital interactions -- as is the case with our traditional shoe-leather diplomacy, relationships that begin online must be nurtured away from computers, through real-world interactions. That's why I traveled to South Korea -- to be able to foster connections and build common understandings. In the process, I better understood how universal the questions are that the State Department faces every day in best using digital diplomacy.