What convinced you to start using Twitter?
It was not one single thing. With all the social media platforms out there, I was reluctant to have yet another platform that I would need to visit and spend time managing. I caved in to “quiet pressure” from colleagues from other agencies who kept asking for my Twitter “handle” so they could tag me in their tweets. But not knowing anything about Twitter, and with terminology that can be a bit daunting -- Twitter handle? Tag me? -- it still did not happen. After months of procrastination, I finally set up my account when a prospective donor asked for my handle to tag me when their decision to fund one of our projects was to be announced.
Has the platform been helpful for you as a Chief of Mission?
Extremely so! I simply cannot overstate this point. It has proven to be an easy platform to get word out regarding ongoing or planned initiatives, key decisions and institutional positions, with minimal effort, and potentially, massive impact.
Beyond this, I have found Twitter to be an efficient way to keep track of ongoing global developments of general interest and sometimes news of specific relevance to our work that I would otherwise be unaware of.
In six short months, I’m at the point where I cannot imagine a day without Twitter. That is how critical it has become as an outlet for updating partners and the broader audience on key mission activities, but also as a source of information on key developments in the field of migration, and beyond.
I should add that once I got onto Twitter, I found the support of Luca Lamorte (a Twitter wizkid!) to be very helpful in understanding how to more effectively use the platform.
What would you say to other Chiefs of Mission who are skeptical of joining Twitter?
Tweeting is not as difficult as it might first appear, and it is definitely not time-consuming if you’re disciplined in your use of it. More importantly, most of our partners are on Twitter; we simply cannot afford not to be on it if we expect to get key messages out.
Maureen Achieng (right) with the Ambassador of Sweden to Ethiopia Torbjorn Petterson.
I have even on occasion received text messages thanking me for a tweet. A simple tweet acknowledging a partner/donor’s input/contribution/financial support goes a long way in cementing relationships, some of which eventually lead to funding or other forms of support. We should not forget that just as we need to get the word out on what we are doing, many of our donors could also use some visibility vis-à-vis their capitals on how they are working with partners on the ground and with what impact. Our engagement with them on Twitter helps them achieve this with relative ease.
Maureen’s Twitter account can be found here.
* Maureen Achieng is Chief of Mission in Addis Abba, Ethiopia and Representative to AU, UNECA and IGAD
IOM on Twitter
The explosion of digital communication has been a game-changing opportunity for international organizations. It has helped them make the shift towards digital engagement and increase awareness about their activities.
With over 330 million users worldwide, Twitter is still the most popular social media channel for international organizations, and has become an indispensable tool to share content.
While IOM is still at the beginning of its digital transformation, we already have witnessed some progress in the field of social media and e-diplomacy.
Last year, IOM’s organic reach experienced a nearly fivefold growth, with over 96 million users engaged through our global channels, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and LinkedIn.
Our global community is approaching 500,000 followers. But there’s more.
For instance, our recently built-in Twitter dashboard– which is now published on our global website –displays the Organization’s accounts in one single repository. The dashboard provides the latest news about IOM’s work all over the world and also the latest on migration.
We plan to include other social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram in 2019.
Should Twitter become an indispensable tool for IOM staff, or only be used as a corporate tool to display our activities?
Maureen's simple advice is “Just get started. Once you get started, you’ll wonder how you ever survived without Twitter.”