Towards a UN social media strategy

As well as writing my MA dissertation, I spent this summer interning with the United Nations Department for Public Information. And in particular with the social media ‘focal point’ in that department.

It made a lot of sense – I love a bit of a digital communication, I’m passionate about global affairs and I think social media changes the way the world will be governed.

The UN – in its central role as an inter-national organisation – is a particularly old-fashioned way of governing the world, but one that, by virtue of its wide membership is often said to be the most ‘legitimate’ way of setting global rules. (As opposed to something like the G20, for example.)

But legitimacy is granted by the public in complex ways, and if the UN doesn’t open up or engage with people on a more personal level, I believe it will struggle to remain relevant.

I spent a lot of the internship training people on social media, writing guidance, going to some interesting and some less interesting meetings. I also found out that the UN does not have a social media strategy. It doesn’t actually have a communications strategy either. So, biting off more than I could chew, I tried to write one.

The slides below give you a very brief summary. Click through to the one hosted on the slideshare website and you can read the notes to each slide. Alternatively, read the full document version, also below. You can download one for printing here.

Given the lack of strategic communication objectives, it turned into more of a ‘how-to-write-a-strategy’ document, with some examples of what such objectives should look like. By the time I finished it, there wasn’t a lot of time to sell it in to my boss and her bosses and so on.

However, the genius of social media is that I can now post it here and hopefully someone will find a use for it. Or at least be inspired to think about it or go write their own.

Any thoughts or feedback very welcome.

Photo credit: ekosystem

2 replies on “Towards a UN social media strategy”

Great post. It would be fantastic if UN staff could be more active and social media and be given both the skills and the encouragement to do so. The UN’s staff have expertise and can be some of the best advocates for our work, and a personal voice is more “authentic” that a corporate one.One action I’d suggesting adding to your plan is to use role models or examples from within and outside the UN that can model how social media can be used in different ways. People often learn best from real examples both of the good and the bad.I think it’s also important to remember that social media is not just about outreach communication. I use social media mainly for networking and information sharing to help support the work I’m doing and I think any training and support also needs to covers these aspects of social media use.

Thanks Ian, feedback much appreciated. Yep, absolutely agree that role models are important – get a few runaway successes and suddenly everyone will want to join in.And I agree about KM too – I don’t know how people who aren’t on twitter find out about things! Social media is extremely useful for internal communication – another thing the UN needs to do better.


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