Maria Belovas, New Media Specialist, Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Maria told the conference she has been working with the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs to determine to what extent social media can be used as a communication tool for crisis management. She said the first rule for effective involvement online is to watch, listen and develop real skills in the media before contributing. She commented on the difficulties of judging the impact of a communications strategy aimed at social media, especially as the target audience for a government ministry of foreign affairs is naturally global, multicultural and multi-lingual. Maria’s advice to conference delegates thinking of developing a presence in social media is to start with a strategy that clearly defines the target audience, that tailors the message to that audience and which includes a mechanism for responding to feedback promptly, analysing its content and acting accordingly. She says the key skill in this workflow is learning how to listen. In her second clip, Maria shares the results of her department’s analysis of who is using the social media platforms, and how to tailor the government’s message to a particular audience profile. She warns that simply putting press releases written for professional journalists on Facebook is not likely to yield results. Maria can be contacted via www.vm.ee