The 2016 Social Network of Foreign Ministries

Introduction

In May of 2014, I published my analysis of the social network of world foreign ministries (MFAs) on twitter. My assumption was that MFAs would actively follow one another online in order to gather relevant information. For instance, by following other ministries an MFA may be able to identify policy changes in certain countries, anticipate new foreign policy initiatives and predict possible crises in diplomacy. Moreover, if an MFA is followed by many of its peers online it may be able to disseminate information throughout the entire diplomatic milieu with the click of a button.

My analysis in 2014, which relied on a sample of 77 MFAs spanning the globe, found that the social network of foreign ministries was made of a small core and a large periphery. In addition, the average MFA was followed by only 14 of its peers. This network may be seen in the image below.

The 2014 Social Network of Foreign Ministries

2014 network.png

In 2015 I returned to my sample and found that the social network of MFAs had grown much denser. This was explained by the fact that the average MFA was now followed by 28 of its peers.

This year I decided to return for the third time to my sample and analyse the 2016 Social Network of Foreign Ministries. My analysis showed that this network continuous to grow denser as each MFA is now followed by 30 of its peers. The 2016 network may be seen in the image below.

mfa blog 1.png

Analysis

In order to analyse this social network I calculated three parameters. The first is the in-degree parameter which measures the popularity of each MFA in the network. This is an important parameter as the more popular an MFA, the greater its ability to disseminate information to the global diplomatic milieu. The table below presents the 10 most popular MFAs in this network. Likewise, it details changes in the ranking of each MFA (note that some MFAs are tied. For instance Norway and Germany are tied in fifth place).

The 2016 Social Network of Foreign Ministries- In Degree Parameter

mfa blog indegree.png

As can be seen in the table, there have been few changes in the in degree rank from last year. The MFA that lost the most ground was the Turkish MFA who was ranked 6th in 2015 as opposed to 10th this year. Likewise, both the US and Russia have been able to maintain their rank. Finally, it seems that European MFAs dominate the in degree ranking.

The MFAs with the highest in degree raking are also shown in the image below.

The 2016 Social Network of Foreign Ministries- In Degree Parameter

mfa blog 2.png

The second parameter I calculated was the out-degree parameter. This indicates which MFAs are the most avid followers of their peers. This parameter is also of great importance as the more Foreign Ministries one follows the grater his ability to gather information from his peers. The table below presents the 10 MFAs that are most avid followers of their peers. Likewise, it details changes in the ranking of each MFA

The 2016 Social Network of Foreign Ministries- Out Degree Parameter

mfa blog outdegree.png

As can be seen in the table, four countries maintained their rank as the most avid followers of their peers – Peru, Iceland Kazakhstan and Sweden. Interestingly, these four countries are relatively smaller to the ones that ranked high on the in degree score. Thus, it is possible that smaller nations use social media as a tool for information gathering given a smaller diplomatic core and fewer resources. There are three MFAs that had a quantum leap in their out degree scores- Brazil, Netherlands, Spain and Greece.

The MFAs with the highest out degree raking are also shown in the image below.

The 2016 Social Network of Foreign Ministries- Out Degree Parameter

mfa blog 3

Finally, I calculated the betweenness parameter. This parameter identifies which MFAs serve as important hubs of information as they connect Ministries that do not follow one another directly. The table below presents the 10 MFAs that received the highest betweenness scores. These are also identified in the social network in the image that follows.

The 2016 Social Network of Foreign Ministries- Betweenness Parameter

mfa blog btw.png

As can be seen, there have been few changes in the betweenness ranking from 2015. The major change is that the Russian MFA is now the most important information hub in the entire network of foreign ministries. The MFA that suffered the greatest fall in rank was Peru which ranked 7th last year as opposed to 10th this year. Finally, it should be noted that both small and large countries populate this table as well as countries from Europe, N. America and Latin America.

The 2016 Social Network of Foreign Ministries- Betweenness Parameter

 mfa blog 4.png

There are only three countries that ranked in the top 10 in all three parameters. This “A Team of Digital Diplomacy” is Russia, Norway and Sweden. Russia and Sweden are the only countries to make the A list for a third year in a row.

On Social Media Mobility

It is important to note that this year’s network exemplifies what I call social media mobility, a process in which smaller nations attain a high online visibility. The image below identifies several nations that despite their size, and influence on global diplomacy, are located at the very core of the MFA social network.

Upward Social Media Mobility

mfa blog 5.png

This network also demonstrates downward social mobility. The image below identifies large nations who are located at the periphery of the MFA social network. Such nations indicate that offline size does not guarantee online visibility.

Downward Social Media Mobility

mfa blog 6.png

Next week I will be blogging about diplomacy as theatre. Untill then, tweet at me @Ilan_Manor.

 

 

 

One thought on “The 2016 Social Network of Foreign Ministries

  1. Pingback: The Many Habits of Successful Mongolian Digital Diplomats | Mongolia Focus

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