Digital Diplomacy & the #G8

Digital Diplomacy & the #G8


In order to maintain relevance in an ever-changing world, diplomacy and politics must adapt. Understanding how to operate in a world which runs online is crucial if modern diplomacy is to accurately reflect the views of – and engage with – citizens.

Enter the age of digital diplomacy.

Governments, politicians and diplomats have already begun to embrace technology and social media as a tool to interact with voters and citizens. World leaders are joining Twitter. Ministers are hosting live streamed discussions and panels. Policymakers are crowdsourcing public opinion on major decisions.

The social media buzz around the recent G8 Summit in Lough Erne is testament to diplomacy’s move into the digital space.

In order to build a better understanding of how the conversations about the G8 were developing on social media, we analysed global Twitter data in the run-up to, throughout, and immediately following the 39th Summit.

Through an analysis of top hashtags, volume and geography, we were able to develop a picture of the key issues being debated and who was driving the conversation on the Twittersphere.

We found that:

  • The UK government’s campaign around Tax, Trade and Transparency managed to gain  traction but long-standing issues such as Syria, Turkey and the Occupy movement remained significantly  more prominent
  • Within the UK government’s campaign around Tax, Trade and Transparency, the issue of tax achieved the most resonance by a considerable margin
  • Celebrity endorsement is a powerful means of cutting through the Twittersphere. Conversation on sexual violence, for example, spiked with a single tweet from Angelina Jolie
  • Twitter interaction related to the G8 spiked around the summit but there was little sign of a successful campaign of engagement and debate in the run-up to the summit
  • The reach of the G8 through Twitter remains truly global with tweets coming in from almost every country in the world, with  the US and UK serving as hotspots of Twitter activity
  • Officials and governments take digital diplomacy very seriously and invest considerable resources in Twitter engagement around major set piece events such as the G8 summit.

Our full report, Digital Diplomacy & the #G8, can be downloaded here, or you can browse the document below.

The report contains commentary from some of the world’s leading voices on digital diplomacy, including: