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Steven Hardy

Social Media Manager

Part of Digital Diplomacy

23rd October 2015 London, UK

Here today, gone tomorrow… But see you again soon

  1. Approximately 50% of users 18 or under.
  2. Real-time images and videos that disappear once viewed.
  3. Messages that only allow 37 characters of text.

At first glance Snapchats vital statistics do not appear the ideal fit as tool to communicate the nuances of diplomacy but its relentless growth encouraged some further examination.

  1. Like the channel itself the youth of today will be tomorrow’s leaders. For the Foreign Office it’s important we look to engage with younger audiences in the spaces they now hangout and via the methods they prefer.
  2. Social media is constantly evolving and with it our norms and ways of communicating. You might still see a holiday album uploaded to Facebook, but you’ll likely already have seen a couple of carefully selected and stylised Instagram posts and – increasingly so – some raw, unedited ‘in the moment’ snaps via Snapchat. The realism the tool provides adds authenticity to its content, something which is also key to government communications.
  3. 37 characters will never cover the terms of a bilateral meeting. Just like a ‘grip and grin’ photo on Twitter won’t cover the detail of what two foreign ministers agreed after months of carefully considered negotiations. It will however provide access and profile. The advent of the internet has opened doors and if something is happening the average millennial is used to immediate access. Snapchat can provide this. If you get it right the long form content with additional background and detail could achieve greater impact by virtue of more engaged connections.

With that in mind and following in the footsteps of some of our colleagues working around the world (Our Embassy in the US are snapping) we introduced Snapchat to our digital communication portfolio last month. Piloting it at the launch party of this year’s Rugby World Cup and our annual #OpenHouseFCO has already seen some success with over 300 new connections.

OpenHouse blog
Snapchat’s ‘Stories’ is one its best features. Adding snaps to your story allows followers to view them an infinite number of times over a period of 24 hours. Most crucially they see your story in the order you added the message which is unique in comparison to most other platforms. Used well this provides a brilliant opportunity for storytelling, or even, story doing. Visitors to Open House followed a route through a building from historical to the modern day workings of the Foreign Office. Our Snapchat story followed this journey but it was also intertwined with user experience snaps where we had visitors ‘hijack’ the channel to add their own footage to help bring the virtual experience to life.

RWC blog

For now building a relationship with a potentially new audience is paramount but perhaps the biggest challenge as we continue will be measuring success. Beyond audience growth and number of views Snapchat has limited analytical capability. Evaluation and analysis of our work are key and always tied to measurable outcomes and return of investment in resources. As continue to learn from this tool measuring its true impact will be essential.

Stay posted on our latest via ukforeignoffice.

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