US Embassy Jakarta: More Facebook fans than all US Embassies combined

US Embassy BoothImage by Brian Giesen via Flickr

On April 19, 2010, Thomas Crampton who covers social media in China and Asia had a post about US Embassy Jakarta’s Facebook presence. Yep, our embassy in Indonesia has more Facebook fans than all the US embassies worldwide combined. And if you put together US Mission Indonesia’s Facebook presence in Jakarta, Medan and Surabaya, they’d have more fans than all US embassies and the mother ship combined! That’s pretty cool, guys! Tristram and his team can probably teach that class at FSI on social and new media.  

Excerpt below:

The US Embassy in Jakarta built a fanbase on Facebook larger than the US State Department and larger than all US Embassies combined, according to the man behind the site. The effort has been driven by Tristram Perry and his team out of the Jakarta embassy, Surabaya and Medan. Tristram agreed to take a few questions on his team’s efforts.

First, the stats:

Total fans of the US Embassy and consulates in Indonesia: 161,000
Embassy Jakarta: 128,732
Consulate Surabaya (run by Andi DeArment): 30,800
Consulate Medan: 2,700


Vs.


U.S. State Department: 36,000
All other consulates and embassies: 102,000

When and how did you start?

We started our Facebook Fan Page in January of 2009. Basically, we established static beachheads on a number of social media platforms and developed them based on interest and time available. We use several different tools, but our efforts are driven by the fact that we are trying to find a way to connect to new audiences, in this case, an urban and suburban 18 to 34 year olds who do not get news and information from traditional news sources. That’s who is online in Indonesia. There’s only 10-12% internet penetration here, but that’s over 25 million people — roughly the equivalent of five Singapores. But the process was pretty organic — the more we worked on the page, the more fans we got, and it had a certain snowball effect.

What advice would give to another embassy or gvt trying to repeat what you did?

That social media is not a second website, it’s a community. Make sure that the people who are assigned to work on it are users themselves. Spark discussion and a sense of community, and give people a reason to belong to it. Know your market and customize your information for your audience. Develop unique, engaging content. Distribute the work, so that it across a group of people and not just personality driven, but matches your institutional strategy and feel. Post regularly, but not too much. Set goals and reassess them periodically.

How do these efforts fit within the broader diplomatic efforts?

Again, everything we do is designed to compliment our traditional public diplomacy and existing programs, whenever possible. There is a big push in the State Department to use social media for public diplomacy. We have an administration that was elected in part through their use of social media is in our own democratic context. If social media can affect a U.S. election, then logically it can be a force for democratic
reform worldwide and empower people to express themselves.

In social media, are there concerns about “losing control”?

For us, it’s not really about control so much as it is about direct, two-way interaction. Since, we are up front about the fact that we do set ground rules and enforce them fairly, I think our fans respect that. People are going to talk about us online, criticize us, disagree with our policies and positions, with or without our efforts in social media. We can choose to join this conversation and give them a chance to express themselves directly to us, or not. Listening to others’ views is also important, not just pushing our own side of the argument. That is the point of having a Facebook page or a Twitter account — the real strength of using social media for public diplomacy is the discussion happening on both sides.

Read the whole thing here.

Thomas Crampton is the Asia-Pacific director of 360 Digital Influence for Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide.  He heads a team stretching across 23 cities in 15 Asian territories that helps companies conceive, develop and execute strategies in Social Media. He was a correspondent for the International Herald Tribune and The New York Times for more than a decade, reporting from five continents, writing a column on Asia and covering Asian politics, economics and culture. Currently based in Hong Kong, he writes here about China, the Internet and New Media seen from Asia, while also advising companies on digital communication strategies. He blogs at http://www.thomascrampton.com

UPDATE: I applaud the efforts US Embassy Jakarta put into their online outreach. But I also recognize the nature of the US missions overseas and the inevitable rotations of FSOs in and out of embassies and consulates worldwide. This usually has an impact on post specific programs and priorities.  As an example, one post spent FSO time and resources to obtain ISO standard certification. After partially completing the requirements, the lead FSO and the Front Office sponsors rotated out; the succeeding front office management had other priorities and dropped the entire effort. And that’s only one example.  I have similar concerns at the back of my mind so I sent Tristram additional questions including what happens when he transfer this summer to a new assignment.

Tristram Perry, a PD-coned Foreign Service Officer on his third tour first stressed to me that US Embassy Jakarta’s Web 2.0 engagement is a team effort.  “Our Facebook and overall social media outreach efforts — YouTube, Twitter and active Blogger engagement, are a team effort, and that while I’m responsible overall for the strategy, without the talented team Jakarta has, we could not achieve the results we do.” 

He also said that  “I’m sure the page will be fine without me, as long as we continue adhere to the editorial standards and strategies we’ve developed over the past year and a half.”

I inquired about his social media background and this is what he wrote back:

“[A]lthough I did not have a social media background, I do have a background in public relations and marketing, working in the field for 7 years before joining State. I’m a recent social media junkie, but have learned to recognize the differences between how it works differently than a traditional website or newspaper is the key to success or failure.  It also helps to keep up with the latest technologies and developments, as it changes so rapidly.”

Other posts also get special mention:

“Other Embassy Social Media sites I admire are of course, the Facebook page for Surabaya, run by Andrea DeArment, and both Embassy Colombo’s and Embassy Macedonia’s Facebook efforts, and on Twitter, Embassies Ottawa and Pretoria are doing great things.” 

I was curious about knowledge management and information sharing with other posts and he said, “We’ve worked closely to develop best practices and case studies that are on the State Department’s Social Media Hub, which is available to all Posts on the State intranet.”

So if you’re responsible for social media engagement for your post and not quite sure where to start, check out US Embassy Jakarta’s materials in the Social Media Hub.

I’m sure there was something else I forgot to ask him. It will come to me in a while. Sorry, juggling too many balls right now — I sometimes forget where I park my brain. 

But thanks Tristram for answering our questions!!   


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State Dept’s IIP Bureau Looking for Freelance Writers

Townhall.america.govImage by planspark via Flickr

I lifted this from the Statement of Work (SOW) posted at FedBiz. May be a good opportunity for writers in the FS looking for work; pays $1.00/word. The announcement says they anticipate awarding up to 2 new Blanket Purchase Agreements for individuals who would provide written material for the America.gov web site. “We will establish one-year BPAs with the option to extend up to four additional years. The BPA does not constitute a guarantee of work. Writing assignments are made on an as-needed basis and many factors are taken into account when choosing a contract writer for a particular job including subject matter expertise, location and ability to complete the work within a given deadline.” Read more here

Read the SOW below:

The United States Department of State’s Bureau of International Information Programs (IIP) periodically requires freelance writers to provide articles for IIP’s websites. Each assignment will be assigned on an as-needed basis as determined by authorized IIP staff.

Writers will be responsible for:

— Writing articles for IIP products, which include, but may not be limited to, material for use in websites, America.gov e-mail delivery to posts, and for other IIP print and electronic products as they are developed. In most cases, assignments will be written in a style that is appealing to international readers in positions of influence. Such articles may be translated into other languages and reprinted in English or other languages in foreign newspapers without additional compensation.

— Conducting background research for the articles, which could include interviews, archive searches, attendance at hearings, and similar activities. All stages of work: Submitting drafts, complete text, editorial changes, etc., should be completed by specific deadlines, as agreed with the assignments editor.

— Submitting final written products (including edits) to IIP for final review.

— Submitting a complete invoice to Tracey Newman, IIP/G front office. Each invoice will include an invoice number, invoice date, vendor’s name, address, social security number, detailed account of product, and any supporting documentation.

Assignments:

The IIP Current Issues team will select the assignments and subject matter. Topics may include but are not limited to economics, trade, foreign policy, international security, U.S. politics, arts, technology, education, sports, human rights, press freedom, environment, health and space exploration. At the time of the assignment, the authorized IIP employee, in most cases one of the Current Issues division chiefs, will determine the “routine” or “non-routine” nature of the assignment for payment purposes before the assignment is assigned. If the terms are not discussed with the writer in the beginning of the assignment, it will be assumed that assignment is “routine.” IIP will review and edit (or ask writer to edit) the documents as required, and evaluate the completed work for payment.

Routine Assignments
Payments will be made at the rate of $1.00 per word for completed and edited articles or a negotiated rate to be agreed upon at the beginning of each assignment. The rate may be increased at the discretion of the assigning editor based on determination of how much extra work the assignment may entail.

The fee per word includes routine information gathering or research activities such as telephone calls, interviews and attending speaking or other appearances by individuals discussing topics being covered or written about through an assignment based on this BPA.

Payment for work assignments that result in substantial work towards production of products assigned but unable to be completed or used is also contemplated. A “kill fee” of $250 will be paid to writers unable to complete the assignment as long as both parties – the writer and the IIP representative – agree that further work would not be productive in producing the desired end product and that substantial work was performed by the writer.

Non-Routine Assignments
This agreement also contemplates additional payment for any non-routine activities such as international calls or other extraordinary expenses negotiated between IIP and the writer before they are incurred. Such requests for payment for these non-routine activities will be detailed in the invoice and supporting documentation attached.

Rights:

All work which may be produced hereunder is considered to be a work for hire and, as such, the Government shall have unlimited rights to use, disclose, reproduce, prepare derivate works, distribute copies to the public, and perform publicly and display publicly, in any manner and for any purpose, and to have or permit others to do so.

Writers must register and maintain registry with the Central Contractors Registry (CCR) at: http://www.ccr.gov/. To do that, the writer will have to get a DUNS number from www.dnb.com and a Trading Partner Identification Number (TPIN) from the appropriate website: https://www.bpn.gov/ccr email/

I did some of the legwork for you.

For CCR registration go to http://www.ccr.gov/. But first, you need to get a DUNS number from www.dnb.com or http://fedgov.dnb.com/webform.

Click here to request your D-U-N-S Number via the Web.

Click here to request your D-U-N-S Number by phone, (for U.S., Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands Only). Call 1-866705-5711 to request a number by phone.

The process to request a D-U-N-S® Number by telephone takes between 5 and 10 minutes. You will need to provide the following information:
·    Legal Name
·    Tradestyle, Doing Business As (DBA), or other name by which your organization is commonly recognized
·    Physical Address, City, State and Zip Code
·    Mailing Address (if separate)
·    Telephone Number
·    Contact Name
·    SIC Code (Line of Business)
·    Number of Employees at your location
·    Headquarters name and address (if there is a reporting relationship to a parent corporate entity)
·    Is this a home-based business?

If you’re a freelance writer, you can say you are the business owner and use your name as your legal business name. If you don’t know your SIC code, the person assisting you by phone can look it up for you (he/she can put in the codes for formal writing or creative writing or both). If you’re a veteran or a minority, make sure you mention that, too. 

Your DUNS number will be available within 24-48 hours.  Once you have that, you can then do the registration at Central Contractors Registry (CCR). Two more things:


Your Trading Partner Identification Number (TPIN): Once you have completed registration, CCR will assign your Trading Partner Identification Number (TPIN). Protect your TPIN as you would a password.

Staying current: Once you’re registered in CCR, review your profile at least once a year, and be sure to enter changes of company address or contact data. You’ll need your TPIN and DUNS to do that.

Good luck!