Winning Hearts and Likes: New Report out Now on Australia's Strategic Facebook Usage

Lecturer in communication and media at South Australia University and CPD Contributing Scholar Damien Spry recently delved into Australia’s strategic international engagement in a new article for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute titled, "Winning Hearts and Likes: How Foreign Affairs and Defense Agencies Use Facebook." He highlights issues within Australia’s strategies and argues that it is a vital need for Australia to exert influence abroad, specifically within Australia’s Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The fixes? Based on his analysis, Spry makes a number of policy proposals.

From the Australian Strategic Policy Institute:

For Diplomacy:

  • Encourage diplomatic missions to develop, implement and review localised social media plans using the experience and expertise of locally engaged staff (providing training where required), and redefine the role of Australia-based staff to strategic oversight and governance.
  • Remove the direction for all heads of mission to be active on social media; encourage those who are active on Facebook to use openness, warmth and personality to create relational empathy.
  • Create opportunities for training and sharing the skills and experiences of public diplomacy staff.


For Defense:

  • Demonstrate and promote transparency and accountability by publishing social media policies.
  • Recognise the value of social media for the Defence community, especially as a means of providing information and support for currently serving personnel and their families, by supporting the use of Facebook for those purposes by all defence units.
  • Continue Defence’s impressive work using Facebook as a platform for the community to express support for personnel and veterans, and maintain the dignified, sombre tone of the memorial content.


For Both Diplomacy and Defense:

  • Consider cross-promoting content. Defence pages reach the large national audience that diplomacy increasingly needs. Diplomatic Facebook pages—in some locations—provide opportunities for the ADF to promote its actions and values to international audiences, acting as a useful vector for strategic communication.
  • Refrain from using engagement metrics as success measures for diplomats; use them as proxies for public attention in order to gauge how the value of Facebook varies according to audience type and location.
  • Prioritise audiences’ use of social media when developing strategies, creating content and allocating resources.


The full article is available here.


Visit CPD's Online Library

Explore CPD's vast online database featuring the latest books, articles, speeches and information on international organizations dedicated to public diplomacy.