The Foreign Office UK tests Channels

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office UK – what or who is that  you might think, surely some boring Government stuff. Government stuff, yes. Boring? Far from it.

FCO’s core function in (very) short is according to themselves to “promote and protect Britain’s interests abroad” . Now, that sounds like a modern version of the old colonial times, but in fact it isn’t. The FCO’s activities and offices in over 170 countries worldwide help Britain keeping a good relationship with other countries, including their 14 overseas territories like i.e. Bermuda or Pitcairn Islands. British people living abroad can get help and postgraduate students or researchers from countries across the world are granted scholarships by the FCO, which supports a positive development especially in poor countries.

Over the past year, FCO has thrown itself with enthusiasm into Social Media, realising that this is a great way of reaching out to people all over the world, not politicians, but rather normal people like you and me. In their blogs, their representatives around the world pick up a lot of current issues and discussions they encounter and which do not necessarily reach the daily news stream. A gem and great additional news source for everyone interested in global politics.

As part of their social media mix, a Twitter account was launched, and @foreignoffice is now the most mentioned and retweeted UK government department. FCO uses Twitter mainly for giving helpful information to their followers worldwide, this also includes promoting  their blog articles about current issues. Over 17000 followers confirm that this has not been entirely useless…

In order to make it easier for people to follow their blogs and to see which are the most talked about topics, they now started testing Twingly Channels. Via their blog-RSS-feed all blog posts will be fed into the FCO-Channel. While you find all articles in chronological order under “Incoming Stories”, “Top Stories” shows only the ones most retweeted, linked by  other blogs and commented on or simply “liked” in the Channel itself. So readers get an instant overview of “what is hot” among all the FCO-topics.

Like Jimmy Leach says in his blog post, this is not such a big thing really, especially since lots of Channel-features are still to be developed during autumn. But it will be very interesting to see how Channels can help FCO getting more readers engaged in discussions, either on their blogs or in their channel.

FCO also runs its own YouTube- and Flickr-Channels, and there are also Facebook Pages in several languages, take a look at the whole range. Jimmy is by the way the guy that pulled off FCO’s successful social media strategy and you can reach him on Twitter or on his blog. He loves dialogue and appreciates feedback.

If you are interested in global politics and want to know more about matters that are not big in daily news, then get subscribed to the FCO-Channel and feel free to comment and “like” articles there or directly on their blogs. Definitely let FCO and us know what you think. Commenting or tweeting are the best ways to reach us, or in our case, we collect your ideas and answer your questions here.

What do you think?

//Anja Rauch

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