My job involves a high amount of communication with both internal and external actors from all spheres, thus consistent and thorough communication is an essential tool for good planning and successful organisation of activities. Although we primarily use a wide range of official communication tools, in the digital era, the input and coverage that can be reached via social media should by no means be neglected. The use of online instruments is gradually becoming an indispensable part of modern diplomacy.
I have used social media since 2007, the period of my studies at the Estonian School of Diplomacy. Currently, I have a personal blog (guzun.md), as well as Skype, Facebook and Twitter profiles, which I use for the following diplomatic representation reasoning:
1. To promote Moldova
The names on my social media list are representatives of many states, including people who are opinion formers. For example, the placement of information reflecting the successes of Moldova on the path towards European Union integration makes it possible to distribute data to a large number of officials, representatives of think-tanks and the foreign media. I highly appreciate the constructive feedback and messages of support I receive.
2. To promote Moldovan products in Estonia
In this regard, we have created a special facebook page: Products of Moldova in the world – Moldovan Products Worldwide (https://www.facebook.com/moldovaproducts), where we put information about Moldovan products that can be found on the Estonian market (product photos, the shop in which it can be purchased, manufacturer, price, etc). The page serves as a guide for Estonian customers interested in our products, as well as for Moldovan producers to analyse Estonian public preferences.
3. To provide first-hand information to all interested people
This enables a better understanding of the specifics of ongoing public projects and has served several times as the basis for initiatives which have resulted in successful projects.
4. To make public announcements
A record number of applications for projects (over 50) were submitted in 2012, as a result of an online promotion. Taking into account that all applications were made on the basis of Moldovan-Estonian partnerships, even non-financed projects are an example of successful bilateral cooperation, with several entities in Moldova and Estonia later developing common projects.
5. To encourage informal communication that inevitably complements formal dialogue
I communicate with officials, business people, teachers, doctors, artists, people from both Estonia and Moldova in order to highlight initiatives and bilateral projects. Communication through social media channels is very fast, can occur at any time, any day of the week, does not require special technical platforms and connects people worldwide.
6. To stay informed
World events are in constant flux and one should be always informed from multiple sources. The speed of information movement is outstanding, and it has been proved that any important information will reach the public in 15 minutes, worldwide; Twitter manages to do this within two minutes. I use my Twitter profile to have a clear picture of the situation, in a quick and efficient way, as it provides the reactions of senior officials to foreign policy issues. I follow the profile of about 100 heads of states, EU officials, foreign ministers and leaders from around the world.
7. To be easily found
In crisis situations, the officials’ speed of reaction may be essential or vital. In this regard, we have established a mechanism for forwarding telephone calls from our institution to mobile phones of our employees 24/7, ensuring full-time access to our staff for every person within the territory of Estonia. The reasonable use of social media and the advantages of the transfer speed of information serves as an additional crisis management platform. The recent case of the 26 Moldovan citizens stuck at Riga airport is a very good example. (http://www.trm.md/ro/social/moldoveni-blocati-in-aeroportul-de-la-riga/)
8. To share success stories and inspiring experiences
Estonia has success stories and inspiring experiences which can be followed by the Republic of Moldova. They are not always necessarily official and can often concern electronic solutions in the field, resolution of settlements, efficient management of enterprises, social programmes and personal experiences. Even if only a part of the best practices can be implemented, it is already worth the effort. However, experience has shown that positive examples lead to new initiatives and projects.
9. Because no mechanism that can be useful in launching more successful activities should be overlooked.
This text is published as part of the Digital Eastern Europe column.
Victor Guzun is a Moldovan teacher, politician and diplomat. He is currently the Ambassador of the Republic of Moldova to Estonia. He graduated from Tiraspol State University (1996), Free International University (2002) and the Estonian School of Diplomacy (2007). Guzun has previously held the positions of Director of Foreign Relations and European Integration Department, Ministry of Transport and Road Infrastructure, Director of Centre for European Studies, lecturer of geopolitics at the International Institute of Management, and deputy-director and teacher at “Gheorghe Asachi” High School, Chisinau, Republic of Moldova.