Digital and soft diplomacy


Digital communication: get a better understanding of how French foreign policy works

Diplomacy in general, particularly soft diplomacy, increasingly relies on every aspect of digital technology (applications, websites, social media, etc.). The social web has become a keystone in sharing and highlighting the priorities of our foreign policy.

What is soft diplomacy? What is its relationship with digital technology?

Soft diplomacy is a way of sharing the main priorities of France’s foreign policy, established by the Ministry, with the general public in France and throughout the world. It also aims to promote France’s image and defend our economic, linguistic and cultural interests, harnessing the combined efforts of the Ministry’s central services and diplomatic network.
In 1995, the Ministry was one of the first French institutions to set up a website. In 2021, the France Diplomacy website saw a total of approximately 9 million visitors per month and 100 million over the year. Many of them consult its flagship service, Travellers’ advice, which can also be accessed on a mobile application.
The site is available in 6 languages – French, English, Arabic, Spanish, German and Russian – making it as accessible as possible.

@francediplo on social media
Since 2008-2009, the Ministry has had a proactive communication policy on social media. It was, for example, the first French Ministry to create a Twitter account in spring 2009. With 1.2 million followers in 2021, @francediplo, the Ministry’s Twitter account, is now one of the most followed French government accounts.

On the social web, diplomacy is no longer merely a matter of state-state relations, but also of state-civil society relations. The Ministry can communicate directly with citizens and all of civil society thanks to social media.

The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs is now present on several platforms in various languages:

The four focuses of the Ministry’s digital communication strategy

Maintaining dialogue with French and foreign civil society,
Strengthening the “public service” dimension of France Diplomacy and quality of service more generally,
Supporting the diplomatic network in terms of digital communication,
Fighting misinformation and defending our model of free, reliable and quality information.

It is essential for the Ministry to make its communication accessible to all citizens by adapting it to the particular needs of people with disabilities. This accessibility is founded on the Government Communications Accessibility Charter published in March 2021.

The digital communication of France’s diplomatic network

In 2021, a total of 269 sites of French embassies and consulates abroad communicate in 15 languages. At the same time, their social networking activity increased: 216 posts were active on Facebook and 189 on Twitter.

They mainly use Twitter and Facebook but are capable of adapting to the most widespread usages and platforms in each country: for example, the French Embassy in China communicates on Weibo.

The Ministry’s digital soft diplomacy strategy covers the diplomatic network and its main development focuses:

The Ministry provides its diplomatic network with many tools and services: editorial support, standard templates for embassy and consulate websites, hosting solutions, telephone and online assistance, and tutorials. This support concerns both communication on their institutional website and social media.
Since 2011, the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs has provided a social web training course for all diplomats newly posted abroad. Mid-career courses are also provided by the Diplomatic and Consular Institute (IDC).

Consult our article on digital technology

Updated: March 2022