Cultural Diplomacy in the Digital Age: How Social Media Enhances Cultural Exchange between European Nations

  • Abstract:

    This paper tests the potential of using social media for cultural diplomacy to engage with local audiences abroad. By adopting an institutional focus, it is researched how social media can help those who conduct cultural diplomacy, to achieve foreign cultural policy objectives. An in-depth comparative case study has been conducted, which examines how the Dutch, Danish, German and British governments practice cultural diplomacy in Italy and how they use social media to support their diplomatic efforts. The case study is supported by a theoretical framework of two sections. First, cultural diplomacy is conceptualized by explaining how governments use the practice to interact with local audiences abroad. Second, by focusing on the characteristics of social media usage in Italy, it is discussed what potential social media has for the practice of cultural diplomacy. This paper concludes that translating objectives for cultural diplomacy into social media content is challenging, especially when foreign cultural policy makers are far removed from those who create social media content. Even when government control on cultural diplomacy is tight, social media strategies need to be coordinated strictly in order for it to contribute to cultural diplomacy.