With more constraints on government resources and increasing public demand for information, "the ability to mobilize human and informational resources efficiently will only increase in importance," he adds. Knowledge management was the first use of eDiplomacy at the department, writes Hanson.

Ediplomacy promotes social networking technologies such as Twitter and Facebook to reach out to citizens, companies and others. "I define it as building on traditional forms of diplomacy to account for the technologies, the networks and the demographics of the 21st century," says Ross. "The key role for me is to be an accelerant."

The decline of Australian public diplomacy capabilities is at a critical point. At its lowest point in years, some have been looking at alternative ways for Australia to engage internationally. The Lowy Institute for International Policy, in particular, has long been lamenting that DFAT does not use digital tools or social media to help promote Australia's foreign policy interests.

The State Department is the world’s largest user of web information and communication technologies for diplomatic objectives, according to a recent study from the Australian-based Lowy Institute for International Policy.

Time and again, though, critics and analysts bring up the same question: What has this accomplished? And how do you even measure accomplishment online in the first place? A new report from the Lowy Institute, an Australian international policy think tank, delivers a remarkably detailed look behind the scenes of State's digital democracy efforts, and ends with precisely that query.

"All public diplomacy is moving away from the idea of a single voice toward an emphasis on coalitions, especially cooperation with [nongovernmental organizations]," says Nicholas Cull, a fellow at the Center on Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California.