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@foreignoffice and #twitter

The Foreign Office tweets – in fact it tweets a lot. We have over 70 twitter channels and we tweet in more than 14 languages. We tweet from British embassies, high commissions and ambassadors across the globe, covering a whole range of foreign policy issues.

We were one of the first adopters of twitter in UK government. We signed up to twitter almost three years ago, on the 10 April 2008. At this time, twitter was a small company of less than 30 employees. Today, twitter has 400 employees. What started as a toe-dipping exercise for the Digital Diplomacy team is now one of the quickest and easiest ways to communicate to our audiences.

If you see a tweet from @foreignoffice during UK working hours, I probably sent it. Reducing foreign policy to 140 characters isn’t always easy. It can be a very fine line between reducing the number of characters and changing the nuance of the message. So for us, twitter serves as a sign posting service – we will always include a link to the relevant information on our website.

But we don’t just use twitter to broadcast our messages. By joining discussions and conversations that are already taking place amongst the tweeting community we are able to engage with an audience that we would never have been able to pre-twitter. With over 460,000 new twitter accounts created per day in February, our potential reach just keeps growing.

And behind the scenes, twitter helps us to monitor situations. Whilst by no means an exhaustive approach, we use a number of tools to keep an eye on trends and general chat around specific areas. Our latest twitter list features those we have identified as being key tweeters on the ever changing Libya crisis. We don’t necessarily endorse them – but we think it’s important to know what they’re saying.

This blog originally appeared as a guest entry on Jimmy Leach’s Foreign Office blog.

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