US Ambassador Kristie Kenney talks with AFP about her extensive use of social media, especially twitter, to expand her ability to communicate with people, both personally and as a diplomat.

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Photo by Chumporn Sangvilert.

US Ambassador Kristie Kenney has probably "talked" personally with more people in Thailand than any other US diplomat — not face-to-face, but through her twitter account. As I have discovered several times, she normally does answer direct questions and, although she probably doesn't remember it, she once referred me to an embassy official for some timely help with the sometimes frustrating visa process.

In today's Bangkok Post she discusses her personal digital diplomacy with AFP. Here are excerpts from the conversation.

Click button to listen to Ambassador tweets and rightclick to download

Twitter diplomacy

I joined Twitter early on, while I was US ambassador to the Philippines several years ago. Being on Twitter expands my reach — it allows me to connect with a wide variety of people. In this business, you never get to talk to as many people as you’d like.

Twitter provides a way for me to connect directly with those I might otherwise miss. When we travel around Thailand to promote US interests, I often use Twitter to get advice from and to meet up with locals, as I did in Chiang Mai a few weeks ago.

I share what I am doing — both officially and non-officially — on Twitter. I answer questions ranging from ‘‘How is your day?’’ to ‘‘What is US policy on X?’’ I try to nab photos of a variety of places I visit, things I am doing, and I especially enjoy tweeting from ‘‘behind the scenes’’. When President Obama visited Thailand last year, for instance, I tweeted a photo planeside as he arrived, and then later a shot of the menu from the official dinner.

I do all my own tweets, I always have. I manage my Facebook and Instagram personally as well. I use common sense when I tweet about my daily activities...If I’m meeting with people or groups that would prefer not to be publicised, I won’t tweet about the meeting.

I am delighted to have connected with so many people on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. On the whole, the experience has been overwhelmingly positive. Sometimes, of course, passionate people promoting an array of causes offer up a very different point of view. But that can be very useful, too.

I feel it (Twitter) is a good use of my time when I’m stuck in traffic and have an iPhone at the ready.

Beyond Twitter, I am always looking for new ways to reach out. Just recently, I joined up with Instagram. That service has really taken off in Thailand — I think the airport here in Bangkok is one of the most Instagrammed places in the world — and I love the simplicity of it. AFP

You can follow Ambassador Kenney on twitter at @KristieKenney.

ambassador – a senior official who lives in a foreign country and represents his or her own country there เอกอัครราชทูต
diplomat – an official whose job is to represent their government in a foreign country นักการทูต
refer – to mention someone or something อ้างถึง, อ้างอิง
embassy – a group of officials who represent their government in a foreign country สถานทูต
frustrating – making you feel annoyed and impatient because you are prevented from achieving something or you can’t do anything about something ทำให้โกรธ ทำให้ข้องใจ
process – a series of actions that you take in order to achieve a result แนวทางปฏิบัติ, กระบวน, วิธีการ
diplomacy – the activity of managing relations between different countries; the skill in doing this  การทูต
excerpt – a part of a longer story, speech, song, text, etc. บทคัดย่อ
expand – to make or become larger ขยาย
reach – the limit to which somebody/something has the power or influence to do something or communicate with someone   การเข้าถึง, การเอื้อมถึง, การไปถึง variety – many different types of things or people ความหลากหลาย
miss – to fail to hear, see or notice something พลาด
interests – an advantage for everyone or for somebody/something ประโยชน์ส่วนร่วม, ประโยชน์ส่วนบุคคล
advice – an opinion or a suggestion about what somebody should do in a particular situation  คำแนะนำ
locals – people who live in a particular place ชาวบ้าน
official – connected with the job of somebody who is in a position of authority ที่เป็นทางการ
range from – to include a variety of different things in addition to those mentioned ขยายออก, แบ่งประเภท
policy – a set of plans or action agreed on by a government, political party, business, or other group นโยบาย
planeside – at the side of an airplane
common sense – the ability to think about things in a practical way and make sensible decisions การใช้ความคิดตัดสินเบื้องต้น, การตัดสินแบบพื้นๆ
publicise – to make information about something generally available เผยแพร่, ประกาศ
delighted – very happy or satisfied about something ยินดีมาก,สุขใจ
on the whole – overall; in general;  including the most important aspects of something; not exact or detailed โดยทั่วไป
overwhelmingly – by a very large amount or margin อย่างท่วมท้น
positive – good; in a good way ในทางบวก
passionate – having a strong enthusiasm or interest in something  กระตือรือร้น, ซาบซึ้ง, ดูดดื่ม
array – a group or collection of things or people, often one that is large or impressive การจัดเรียง,  ขบวน
cause – movement; an aim, idea, or organisation that you support or work for  วัตถุประสงค์ อุดมการณ์
take off – to become successful or popular very quickly or suddenly ได้รับความนิยมอย่างรวดเร็ว
simplicity – the quality of being natural and plain; the quality of being easy to understand or use ความเรียบง่าย, ความถ่อมตัว, ความง่าย

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Writer: Terry Fredrickson
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