Facebook Diplomacy: Top 10 US Embassy Facebook Pages Worldwide (2010)

This is an end of the year list of top Facebook pages by embassy and constituent posts. Unlike the previous one we put together here, this one purposely excluded the Information Resource Centers and the American Centers from this ranking.

Indonesia, Jakarta
U.S. Embassy – Jakarta, Indonesia 
Indonesia, Surabaya 
US Consulate General Surabaya 
Bolivia, La Paz
Embajada de Estados Unidos en La Paz
Sri Lanka, Colombo
U.S. Embassy Colombo, Sri Lanka
Paraguay, Asuncion
Embajada de los Estados Unidos en Paraguay
Philippines, Manila 
U.S. Embassy, Manila Philippines 
South Africa, Pretoria
United States Mission to South Africa

Peru, Monterrico 
Embajada de Estados Unidos en Peru 

France, Paris 
U.S. Embassy France               
Ecuador, Guayaquil
Consulado General de los Estados Unidos en Guayaquil

The US State Department maintains 223 Facebook pages according to the Dashboard put together by the Office of Innovation. It has a total of 1,546,972 fans. We note the following:

  • 12 Facebook pages for Information Resource Centers and only two made it to the 10,000+ fan-mark

Argentina, Buenos Aires Information Resource Center  
WHA      35,723 fans

Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo IRC Santo Domingo
WHA      17,123 fans

  • Of the 27 American Corner FB pages, only three made it to the 5,000+ fan-mark.

India, New Delhi      SCA      12,519
India, Mumbai          SCA        9,814
Vietnam, Hanoi        EAP         5,337

  • We also note that US Mission Egypt has four FB pages (2 IRCs, Study USA-Egypt and U.S. Embassy Cairo News and Information).  US Embassy Algeria also has four FB pages (Cons Section-American Citizen Services, Cons Section – Visa Unit, Alumni & Education Advising and Access Program Embassy). It makes no sense to us why a Consular Section would have two FB pages. You need people to run these pages if you are planning to do this right. It may be that each unit has a very willing volunteer, but what happens when the volunteer moves on? Without a real outreach plan, and without full management buy-in, these pages (or official blogs) will be difficult to sustain. (A side note — US Embassy London used to have at least 4 blogs, one is now inaccessible, and the American Culturati died when its blogger rotated to his new post).     
  • We think that FB pages with minimal/sporadic updates are as bad, or even worse than being absent in FB. At least when you do not have an FB presence, you can only be faulted for your absence. When you have an FB page but do not have timely updates, that’s like coming to a party and reading a book. It also comes across as if post is not quite prepared or engaged in its own digital outreach. Consular Section – U.S. Consulate General Johannesburg for instance has 92 fans and has not been updated since September. Our other pet peeve is FB pages with no local material.  U.S. Mission Uganda on FB has 151 fans and no local news or update on what this mission is doing in Africa.  Why bother reading it there when you can go to America.gov and read all the same full postings in one site?           
  • We’re pleased to see that the Dashboard has been refined to pull up the FB rankings by post type and by region.  We are hoping that the top gainers and bottom losers statistics eventually can also go back in multiple date range. That would give FB post handlers a grip on whether they are moving forward or backward in their digital efforts.

Some special mention —        

US Mission Indonesia on Facebook (Jakarta, Surabaya, Medan)

The US Embassy Jakarta/Facebook with 300,647 fans is #1 in the Top Pages of the State Department’s FB pages (domestic and worldwide).  US Consulate General Surabaya with 34,319 is #9 in the Top Pages and the only constituent post in the top pages. 

Since the Presidential visit to Indonesia which bumped US Embassy Jakarta’s page up the 300,000 fan-mark, Jakarta has continued to be one of the five top gainers.  But lately, we’ve also seen Consulate General Lahore in Pakistan, enter the scene as one of the top gainers.  This is not unexpected.  We should mention that the guy who built up US Embassy Jakarta’s FB presence (with his local team) is Tristram Perry who is now the Information Officer at the US ConGen in Lahore. Consulate Surabaya’s FB effort was under Andie DeArment ; she is now the Information Officer at US ConGen in Karachi.    

It might be that US Embassy Jakarta has a unique place in the Facebook universe. After all, President Obama did spend part of his childhood in Jakarta and he is remembered fondly there. Although favorable views of President Obama in Indonesia dropped by five points in 2010, the Indonesians remain at 65% in their levels of confidence and approval of the US President.

We think it also helps that Indonesia is second only to the United States on Facebook users by countries with some 31,784,080 users and a 13.11% penetration rate. Of course, out of an estimated 2010 population of 242,968,342. 

And this made us wonder about Kenya —

If Jakarta is a unique place due to President Obama’s childhood connection to Indonesia, what about Kenya, where the entire country claim President Obama as a native son (even though the 44th president was not born here, barely knew his father and did not visit Kenya until adulthood)?

Here is what US Embassy Kenya’s Facebook page looks like:

U.S. Embassy Nairobi      Embassy      AF      1,662

Not quite a fair comparison given that Kenya is #67 among Facebook users by country, has only 997,120 users and an FB penetration rate of 2.49%.   Still, we think it’s worth mentioning that the latest data put Kenya’s internet users at almost 4 million, with an internet penetration rate of 10.0 % and a user growth rate from 2000-2010 at 1,897.8 %.  A smaller pool, but certainly quite an opportunity.

US Mission Pakistan on Facebook (Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad, Peshawar)

The challenge of Facebook diplomacy in Pakistan is quite  daunting. Well, all work is daunting there, in fact.  According to the Pew Global Attitudes Project in 2009, only 13% of Pakistani Muslims expressed confidence in President Obama, but this year even fewer (8%) hold this view.  By comparison, in Indonesia this number is 65%.   The United States favorability rating in Indonesia is also at 59% while in Pakistan it is at 17%.  

Also, Pakistan is #31 in Facebook users by countries with 3,145,840 users, a +37.99% growth rate in the last six months and an FB penetration rate of  1.77%. But if you look at the numbers below, you will note that internet users in Pakistan have grown almost ten times that of Indonesia in the last ten years.

Internet Use (Via Internet World Stats)

Pakistan Est 2010 population:    177,276,594
Internet users latest data:             18,500,000
Penetration rate                                 10.4 %
User growth 2000-2010            13,716.3 %

Indonesia Est 2010 population:  242,968,342
Internet users latest data              30,000,000
Penetration rate                                 12.3 %
User growth 2000-2010              1,400.0 %

It will probably be a hard slog for our folks there.  But where’s the fun without the challenge? 

To the digital outreach team at US Mission Pakistan — here’s looking at you kids!  We’ll be peeking over your shoulders the next year …. 


Quickie: U.S. Revokes Venezuelan Ambassador’s Visa Amid Feud With Chavez

Via Bloomberg Businessweek:

The U.S. revoked the visa of President Hugo Chavez’s ambassador to Washington as part of a five-month diplomatic feud between the two countries.

Bernardo Alvarez, who has overseen Venezuela’s stormy relations with the U.S. since 2003, was expelled after Chavez on Dec. 28 said he was ready for the U.S. to break off diplomatic ties, Venezuela’s communications ministry said. Chavez has been refusing since July to welcome the Obama administration’s choice of Larry Palmer as its next envoy to Caracas and on Dec. 20 delivered an official letter of protest rejecting the nominee.

“We said there would be consequences when the Venezuelan government” refused to accept Palmer’s appointment, Mark Toner, deputy State Department spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement. “We have taken appropriate, proportional and reciprocal action.”

Palmer angered Chavez after the former U.S. ambassador to Honduras told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the Venezuelan army has low morale and that members of the government have “clear ties” with terrorist organizations in neighboring Colombia.
In 2008, Chavez threatened to cut off oil sales to the U.S., only to back down after a week. Venezuela sells more than half of its oil output to the U.S., which got about 10 percent of its crude oil imports from Venezuela in September.

Active links added.  Read the whole thing here.

That’s preposterous … yeah, but will anyone has the cojones to change it?

Nicholas Kristof‘s December 25 column talks about The Big (Military) Taboo. Excerpt:  

I’m a believer in a robust military, which is essential for backing up diplomacy. But the implication is that we need a balanced tool chest of diplomatic and military tools alike. Instead, we have a billionaire military and a pauper diplomacy. The U.S. military now has more people in its marching bands than the State Department has in its foreign service — and that’s preposterous.

What’s more, if you’re carrying an armload of hammers, every problem looks like a nail. The truth is that military power often isn’t very effective at solving modern problems, like a nuclear North Korea or an Iran that is on the nuclear path. Indeed, in an age of nationalism, our military force is often counterproductive.
Paradoxically, it’s often people with experience in the military who lead the way in warning against overinvestment in arms. It was President Dwight Eisenhower who gave the strongest warning: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” And in the Obama administration, it is Defense Secretary Robert Gates who has argued that military spending on things large and small can and should expect closer, harsher scrutiny; it is Secretary Gates who has argued most eloquently for more investment in diplomacy and development aid.
There are a few signs of hope in the air. The Simpson-Bowles deficit commission proposes cutting money for armaments, along with other spending. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unveiled a signature project, the quadrennial diplomacy and development review, which calls for more emphasis on aid and diplomacy in foreign policy.

“Leading through civilian power saves lives and money,” Mrs. Clinton noted, and she’s exactly right. The review is a great document, but we’ll see if it can be implemented — especially because House Republicans are proposing cuts in the State Department budget.

Active links added above.  Read the whole thing here.

Our guess — no. Even if somebody grows a pair, and change all that needs changing, it is political harakiri. You will die a very painful death where you will be called a bunch of nasty names all the way to your graveyard, and even as they shovel dirt over you. And then you die.  And life as we know it, will go on as the world turns.

We’ve become a great cynic in my odd years of old.  We think that diplomacy will remain a pauper and the billionaire military complex is here to stay. And we will fight these forever wars, until, well — until they take away all our checks and all our credit cards. And when nobody is willing to accept our IOUs anymore. That would make us very poor and very sad.

Not our  fault we’re feeling so totally purple blue these days.  It’s this awful cold weather and this Kristof talking on and on about this old taboo.  The new year is just around the corner and we can’t even feel festive about the military pork set aside for our home states? Ay caramba!   

Meanwhile, former UN Ambassador John Bolton, who is reportedly one of those eying the wide Republican field for 2012 has something important to say about the defense budget and the ballooning deficit: Via

“I think you’ve got to be just as much on the outlook for waste and fraud on defense spending as anywhere else, but the fact is we’re entering a very uncertain period in the world. We’ve got a lot of threats out there that we’re not prepared for. Not just nuclear proliferation, but chemical and biological weapons…. This is not the time to cut back. I understand there’s a lot of pressure to get deficits down. I’m all in favor of it. But national security comes first, pure and simple, as far as I’m concerned.”

Now that absolutely just cheer us up. Cut everything — schools, health care, medicare, etc. etc. etc.  Everything.  EXCEPT the untouchable pot of gold — in the name of defense.

Pray tell, who’s going to defend us from ourselves?