Using Twitter Q&As to explain policy on Syria

Twitter - WilliamJHague

The Foreign Secretary ran a live Twitter Q&A on Syria on his account @WilliamJHague on 5 July for an hour to explain UK action.

He received 50+ questions on Syria including the humanitarian situation, diplomacy with Russia and China, justice and accountability in Syria, support to the opposition, next steps for the Annan plan, and rights for Syria's communities. The Foreign Secretary answered 24 of those questions in an hour including questions from the members of the public, AmnestyUK Middle East campaigns team and the Kurdish Federation in the UK. Syrian rights groups also participated and helped promote the Q&A, including British Solidarity for Syria. We expect many more people will have observed the Q&A and not actively participated including foreign governments, indeed the Foreign Ministry of one P5 member contacted the policy department afterwards about it.

According to “tweetreach” the #askfs session reached over 200,000 people but in reality, this number could be a lot higher. We estimate the messages on @foreignoffice and @williamjhague alone received over 200 re-tweets. For example, the Foreign Secretary’s tweet the day before the Q&A received 93 re-tweets. Sentiment was overwhelmingly positive including UK media coverage. The event allowed the Foreign Secretary to debate UK foreign policy on Syria with members of the public and interested groups. This allowed for debate and engagement with the public on their views and sentiments towards the government i.e. an insight into how popular UK foreign policy in that area is at the moment. It also allowed us to dispel any myths/ inaccurate information around our policy on Syria and Assad e.g. granting him immunity in the UK.