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MAY 31, 2016

Quality over Quantity also applies in Social Media

We have asked several foreign ministries to answer some questions about their #DigitalDiplomacy. Here’s a guest post from the Foreign Ministry of Finland.

Which is/are your preferred social media channel(s) and why?


The Foreign Ministry of Finland has been present and active for quite some time on very many social media channels, both as a ministry and as Finland, under the name “ThisisFINLAND” for country branding purposes. In country branding, which is my domain, Twitter is by far the so called main channel. At the moment it is through Twitter we have the best chance of reaching also others than the “usual suspects”. The profile of Twitter being largely used by decision-makers is attractive for some purposes. Country branding is usually a bit slower paced communications, very long-term work, but Twitter is like our hectic current affairs unit and we love it for that! The ThisisFINLAND Facebook also reaches a very high number of people and they are the hardcore Finland Fans; former foreign students in Finland, second generation immigrants, education policy fans, heavy metal fans etc.

We also do some trial and error, test new channels, but still, if I would have to choose which social media channel is my personal current favourite and preferred channel, I would have to say You Tube. This is due to the younger generation presence there and the fact that we recently made a complete strategy overhaul for our YouTube channel. We decided that instead of reviving a channel, that had been dormant for some time, with promotional videos produced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we would for the foreseeable future give the channel in the hands of 11 young Finnish vloggers. It really does make sense, even though it is a very scary decision to be taken by a Government agency. It is not a campaign or gimmick, those we have seen, but really a strategic choice: the faces, voices and ordinary everyday lives of Finnish youngsters from all around the country is far more better a window to Finland than any video or commercial that we could produce. I’m very excited by this!

How do you and your team manage your social media presence?

Our unit at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is at the same time the secretariat for the national Finland Promotion Board (FPB) and we serve our embassies with different tools so that they have an easier task to perform when telling about Finland in many different ways and setups. We work very closely with many other entities, agencies and ministries inside a “Team Finland” umbrella. The resources are not that big, after all Finland has 5.5 million inhabitants, so we really need to make the most out of good cooperation.

We have ThisisFINLAND channels in English, Russian and Chinese. The English channels we almost solely take care of in house, with very small but extremely motivated resources. The Russian speaking channels we do partly in house, partly outsourced. The Chinese channels we do partly outsourced, partly in cooperation with other agencies and partly through our representations in China.

We have a ThisisFINLAND web and social media strategy and the main thing is that improving our performance on social media as a team has been a N°1 priority for one year now. To live and breathe social media is probably the way to describe how we manage our social media presence.

Please share an example of your best campaign/engagement on social media.

Result wise and fun wise this would have to be Finland emojis campaign. We wanted to renew the traditional ThisisFINLAND website Christmas Calendar campaign in 2015 so that it would work better on mobile devices and social media. Thus Finland ended up as being the first country in the world to publish its own set of country themed emoji stickers. The Finland emoji collection contained 30 tongue-in-cheek emotions, which were created to explain some hard-to-describe Finnish emotions, Finnish words and customs, and they were explained/released one by one on a website in December 2015 (even though you could download the Finland emojis app immediately). The reach ended up being something like 200 million people. It is just mind-blowing to us. On May 12, 2016 we released the summer emojis, ie a new set of 17 more summer related emojis to complement the more wintery ones from December.

Video about the first batch of Finland emojis:

How do you measure success on social media?

The truth: I do hate this question. Measuring – and celebrating! – success is important but you hardly hear this question with such vigour when talking about other tools, media or things we do. I mean, of course we are interested in how many likes and retweets and shares and awards and what not something gets, but sometimes it is more important for us to reach a certain subgroup, subculture, genre fans etc. so quality over quantity also does apply in social media. It is of course also about the feedback we get from different sources, the trust we gain from other’s working with the same goals and aims. In the end, if it feels right (to many, not just me) it usually is right.

By Petra Theman (@PetraTheman), Director for Public Diplomacy, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland (@Ulkoministerio)

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