Attachés from embassies in London and members of the London Press Club were given an insight into the power of social media and a a rare chance to visit the Embassy of Brazil in this week.

The Press Club joined forces with the Diplomatic Press Attachés’ Association to present a forum on Social Media as a Tool for the Diplomatic Community.

Experts on how Twitter, Facebook and other social media can help shape and measure public opinion gave background and tips at the event held in the embassy just off Trafalgar Square.

Social Media ambassadorA capacity crowd drawn both from the Press Club and most of London’s embassies – everywhere from Poland and Serbia to India and Malawi – were welcomed to the event by Brazilian Ambassador Roberto Jaguaribe, who revealed that Brazil was second only to the US in terms of users of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

The discussion was moderated by Will Gore, Press Club member and deputy managing editor of the London Evening Standard, the Independent, the i, and the Independent on Sunday. He opened by saying that social media has “absolutely changed the way the mainstream media operates”, both in terms of content produced and the way it interacts with its audiences.

Will then introduced Alison Daniels, head of digital engagement at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. She explained that digital tools and social media are now being used to improve every aspect of what the FCO does – with a key focus on policy making.

Next up was Maz Nadjm, founding director of SoMazi, a consultancy specialising in corporate social media programmes, and featured in both the Forbes and Sunday Times social media influencer lists. He was followed by Tweetminster;s Alberto Nardelli, co-founder of electionista, a news service which covers and monitors elections and election-related news, political events and trends in over100 countries. With reference to the diplomatic community that made up much of the audience, he conceded that it can be hard for large organisations with structures in place to adapt.

Maria Monteiro, Press & Political Affairs Attaché at the Embassy of Portugal, who organised the forum with the Brazilian embassy and London Press Club, with the panel

Maria Monteiro, Press & Political Affairs Attaché at the Embassy of Portugal, who organised the forum with the Brazilian embassy and London Press Club, with the panel

A case study from the US Embassy followed courtesy of John-Paul Evans. He contrasted the what he described as the “intimidating, unfriendly-seeming” building that houses the embassy, with the more human and accessible approach that social media now allows, saying that everyone who works there has a role with social media.

The final speaker was Toni Cowan-Brown of Burson-Marsteller, a global public relations company whose Twiplomacy study analyses how governments and international organisations use Twitter. She cited the examples of Iceland and Norway as being typical of how smaller nations had used Twitter to improve their global visibility.

 Following an audience Q&A the event concluded with a reception of Brazilian food and drinks.Social Media audience