Conceptualising public diplomacy listening on social media

Just published in Place Branding and Public Diplomacy. Read the full article (Abstract below).



Public diplomacy consists of the public and interactive dimensions of diplomacy. Although listening is one of its core activities, public diplomacy scholarship has not yet engaged with listening theory. This paper connects public diplomacy scholarship with a new wave of literature that has argued that listening is a critical and previously neglected component of dialogic engagement. By reviewing this literature, this paper develops a framework for the ‘spectrum of listening’ and categorises five types of public diplomacy listening on social media. The review is followed by a descriptive profile of each type of listening. Using this spectrum, this paper endorses active listening and the embedded concept of dialogic engagement as a concrete yardstick by which to assess successful public diplomacy listening on social media. Listening could be narrowly interpreted as a way to implement and readjust a national strategy, or more broadly and ambitiously as an activity that aims to advance international understanding. The paper considers listening to be a representational force: a public and active response to publics who are increasingly demanding not only to participate, but also to be listened to.

Cross-platform communication and Digital Methods: an example

Here’s the abstract and the slides of my presentation at the Anzca Conference 2016 in Newcastle.

Click here for the slides Cross-platform communication and context: assessing social media engagement in Public Diplomacy


The new computational tools developed in digital methods are really powerful on mapping Twitter conversations related to a particular topic. Nevertheless, there are still several limitations in the collection and in the analysis of the data. These methodological challenges are addressed in my research project, which aims to explore the growing of Public Diplomacy activities on social media. Indeed, according to the Twiplomacy Study (2016), 90 percent of all UN member states have a presence on Twitter.

Yet, the study of Public Diplomacy on social media is still struggling to find an appropriate research method that is able to capture the complexity of the social media communication and assess engagement and participation. Particularly, these tasks have become challenging due to the new phenomenon of the cross-platform communication. Indeed, nowadays users share and comment news on social media, while traditional media, like TV channels and newspapers often report back what has been discussed on social media.

By analysing the Twitter data collected during the G20 2014 in Brisbane, I will describe some aspects of my methodological approach for the study of Public Diplomacy on Twitter. The paper will suggest that we need a mixed approach to comprehend the context and the cross-platform communication. To do so, tweets should be understood as units of information related to each other and visualised in the form of networks. Once key actors are found and relations among the different nodes visualised, a count of the URLs in our dataset will provide interesting information in terms of contents shared in the conversation. By manually looking at the information shared, the context of the conversation will emerge. In this sense, large datasets should be first visualised as whole and then analysed by zooming in the dataset and selecting particular interesting units, which will contain clues to understand the context and the flow of information between different platforms and websites.