Technological development has contributed to the emergence and consolidation of new forms of communication between citizens and public authorities, such as Internet and social media. It is estimated that there are 22 million users with active profiles on one or more social networks in Spain, who devote, on average, 1 hour and 54 minutes a day to them. In light of this, a great deal of hard work has been put in by the Spanish institutions over recent years to increase their efficiency and transparency and facilitate connections and dialogue with citizens through social networks and the Internet.
The Foreign Action Strategy 2015-2018 has included this new reality in Section 8.3, stating that “digital diplomacy offers great opportunities to influence, allows direct dialogue with greater frequency with more extensive audiences, allows opinions and suggestion to be heard and information to be received that until now was not available to those responsible for foreign policy”.
In light of the foregoing, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation implemented a Digital Diplomacy Plan in 2015, which includes the presence of the ministerial department, embassies, consulates and permanent representations on the Internet, through social networks and their respective web pages. Its aims are as follows:
- Attention to Spanish residents overseas or those travelling abroad, taking advantage of social networks to reach everyone in any emergency situation or when in difficulties.
- To provide a better public explanation of our offices overseas and the ministerial department in their daily tasks, functions and undertakings.
- To draw foreign policy closer to our citizens, explaining our priorities and disseminating our position on international issues.
- Encouraging general knowledge on Spain in other countries. Fostering the economic and social progress of our country and better mutual knowledge through closer and more plural communication.
The Digital Diplomacy Plan is guided by the principles of quality, credibility and relevance of the information, transparency, decentralisation and coordinated and immediate management of content.
You can consult the activities of senior officials of the ministerial department on the web pages of the ministry and other representations overseas, together with news of current affairs affecting Spanish foreign policy. By clicking on the Citizen Services tab, you can obtain all the consular information necessary to perform certain formalities such as registrations at the Civil Registry Office, the legalisation of documents and passport renewals. The contact information and specific consular and informative content for each country are available on the web pages of the overseas diplomatic and consular missions.
The implementation of digital diplomacy on social networks has been structured around a framework of 28 sub-regional, multilateral, language-based hubs; with each of the embassies or consulates present on at least one social network.
Today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation has two Twitter accounts - one in Spanish, @MAECgob, and one in English, @SpainMFA – and is on Facebook, Youtube and Instagram. In addition to this presence, our embassies and consulates also boast their own presence, with a total of more than 1 million followers and friends on our networks. We recommend that you subscribe to those accounts that interest you to become more familiar with the day-to-day diplomatic, consular, cultural and trade and economic promotion activities performed by our representations.
Thanks to this Digital Diplomacy Plan, a Social Network Atlas of the ministerial department has been drawn up. This atlas has been confirmed as the main verification instrument for our accounts, since it allows the web pages and social network accounts of the representations overseas to be identified.
The 28 hubs or focal points are Spanish embassies chosen under criteria of geographic and language balance and on major horizontal topics. These hubs are called on to make a greater communication and coordination effort with the offices in their region, with the aim of making the information available on our country more dynamic to third parties.
On the sidelines of the content of traditional communication also published on social networks and web pages, digital diplomacy has also allowed such campaigns as #ViajaSeguroMAEC and #RecomendacionesErasmus to be disseminated. Furthermore, numerous explanatory files and videos have been launched on issues of Spain’s international relations and foreign policy, for example, on our presence on the Security Council for the two-year period 2015-2016; on consular affairs, and on applying to vote from abroad in elections; as well as on other matters such as job opportunities in international organisations.
Finally, we invite you to visit our blogs - a closer and more personal vision - from which our diplomats outline their work and share their experiences in the field.