Social Media and International Development Hashtags

If you are new to social media and international development I thought some relevant hashtags might be useful for researching in Twitter. Here are a few that I regularly use:


I also love this website, which is how the visual was produced – http://hashtagify.me/#ict4d

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Development organisations and charities use Thunderclap to amplify message

Thunderclap describes itself as “the first ever crowdspeaking platform the helps users be heard by saying something together.” The online tool allows a single message to be shared at exactly the same time, “flash-mob style” via Twitter and Facebook. This amplifies the message and allows for a viral tidal wave of “sharability”. Generic advertising has been proven to be effective when everybody sees it at the same time, sometimes referred to as the Superbowl effect. However social media by nature is much more random with people sharing messages at different times of the day and often on different days. This means that the impact is often lost and the messages do not achieve viral status. Thunderclap is a very simple, but clever tool which enables organisations with enough initial supporters more chance of exposure through trends locally, nationally and globally. Thunderclap has been developed by a US advertising agency Droga5 and it’s currently FREE!

A few examples of international development organisations, NGOs and charities who have used Thunderclap

Possibly the most effective use of Thunderclap was by the UN to promote World Humanitarian Day. They aimed to reach one billion people with their campaign and achieved it in within 20 minutes of the launch. Like other Thunderclaps they had the backing of a celebrity, no other than Beyonce performing her song “I was Here” in the UN General Assembly. It was also supported by Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Justin Beiber, Shakira and many more. You can read more about the success of their Thunderclap on Mashable.

The Royal British Legion recently used Thunderclap innovatively to promote a two minute silence, their message read “I’ll be remembering the fallen at 11 o’clock #2MinuteSilence #LestWeForget,” will be sent at 09:00 GMT on Remembrance Sunday.

Another success was Oxfam’s Stop #landgrabs campaign which had a social reach of 691,779 and aimed to raise awareness of land grabs and target the World Bank to stop funding them.

On 1st December for World Aids Day, Durex will donate one condom for each HIV message shared. Their target is to reach 2.5 million condoms. Read more about the 1share1condom campaign and see how you can potentially save a life with the power of one single tweet or facebook like.





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Book Review: Social Media for Social Good: A How-to Guide for Non-profits

Social Media for Social Good: A How-to Guide for Non-profits
Heather Mansfield – 2012

Heather Mansfield has worked in the non-profit sector for over 15 years. Her first fundraising campaign used a Yahoo! email account via internet cafes in Guatemala back in 1997. Since then she has become one of the leading experts on non profit organisations can use social media to advance their online communications and development strategies. She is the creator on www.nonprofitorgsblog.org and has presented more than 500 social media webinars and training to nonprofits worldwide.

Her book Social Media for Social Good is in my opinion the ‘social media bible’ for any nonprofit organisation. The book is a clear, well organised, step-by-step ‘how to guide’ to creating a social media strategy from scratch. It also gives indications of how much time and money organisations should be spending on each activity. In reality this is very hard to predict due to many variables, however it is often good to have a ballpark figure to start planning your budget.

The book is neatly divided into 3 areas:
– Web 1.0. – broadcasting from one to many – websites / e-newsletters etc
– Web 2.0. – social web – evolution from broadcasting to supporters to engaging with them – social networking sites / blogging etc
– Web 3.0. – mobile web – group text messaging / responsive websites / apps and so on

Mansfield explains that although the social media tools are free, to manage them isn’t. To manage social media properly it takes a lot of time and creativity. Nonprofit organisations are realising this more and more. I love this quote from the book “Interns and volunteers are wonderful assistants, but if they are untrained, most often they do not have the experience to use these tools effectively.” It reminds me of a great video on Social Media Interns and ROI by Social Media Marketing Guru – Erik Qualman.

Going back to the book, it has a good section on ROI. Mansfield says that the ROI of using social and mobile media is directly linked to your website, e-newsletter database and the quality of your content. She believes that 5,000 followers is the magic number for social networks to be effective and give a good return on investment.

The book offers some sensible advice on building a website or ‘5 must have characteristics of a non-profit website’. These are:

1. Easy to use CMS. So obvious but so important! If your editors find updating difficult they are unlikely to post information updates as regularly.
2. Good writing – again this seems obvious but is so true. It is fundamental that your web editors have excellent spelling and grammar skills. They also need to know how to write copy for a web audience.
3. Well designed graphics and photos. I’ve said this time and time again. Please don’t skimp on your photography budget. A good photo can say a thousand words.
4. Simple, consistent navigation. Information architecture is key to a successful website. There’s a great book on web usability called ‘Don’t Make me Think’ by Steve Krug. I thoroughly recommend it.
5 Purchase a dot.org web address.

What I like about this book is it also gives some good examples of websites and campaigns that Mansfield thinks is important.

The book goes on to give sound advice on Web 2.0 and ‘Web 3.0.’ as Mansfield calls it. She offers some great tips for beginners such as ‘be consistent when reserving vanity URLs’. She also offers advice for advanced users of social media too. The book even gives 11 qualities of an effective social media manager.

My final quote from the book is on mobile marketing.

“The Mobile Web is full of promise and potential for social good. It will connect communities worldwide in ways that the nonprofit sector has never experienced or even imagined. In the past, nonprofits in developing nations and the communities they serve have been hindered by the cost of desktop computers and Internet access; they often have not has the infrastructure in place or the financial capacity to utlilise the Internet on a regular basis. The revolution in mobile technology in the developing world is changing forever.” I’ll write lots more about the potential of mobile in future posts!

I wish I’d had this book the first time I wrote a social media strategy. Although it’s aimed at the nonprofit sector, many people can make use of the excellent advice given. An excellent toolkit for anyone interested in social media for social good.


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Social Media in Development Cooperation

In September 2011 the Centre for Communication and Glocal Change organised a festival ‘Agency in the Mediatized World – Media, Communication and Development in Transition’ with over 40 speakers from around the world.

In April 2012 a 90-page publication was produced discussing the role of social media in development cooperation. The publication includes papers from six authors from key institutions and experts in the world of development communication. Here is a very brief summary of the articles:

Social Media in Development Cooperation by Ricky Storm Braskov
This is an introduction to the publication and also offers a brief overview of the digital, social and mobile environment. Braskov says that almost all major NGOs and development agencies have social media policies and are active on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube etc. He also highlights a case study by Natalie Fenton and Veronica Barassi which found that social being can a threat to NGOs as well as empowering. He discusses how broadcasting networks are using social media and citizen journalism to ‘report from the ground.’ and how local communities in developing countries can use social and mobile media to effect change.

Social and Mobile Media in ICT4D by Paula Uimonen
This paper identifies some key features of social and mobile media and relates them to social and political change. It uses case studies in Tanzania and  Uganda where blogs and mobiles and used to fight corruption in Africa.

Social Media are Amazing – But How Big is Their Impact and How Can We Trust Them? by Petter Attingsberg
The difference between “old” established media where you can find reliable information and new information sources is discussed in this article. Petter claims that social media is not really that new, as before we had telephones, underground newspapers and pirate radios. He discusses “Who is responsible for what is trustworthy” in social media as there are no demands of credibility or ethics. He also discusses how International Media Support, the organisation he works for, uses social media e.g. to engage with people outside the big cities to counteract a ‘metro-polycentric’ point of views.

UNDP’s Use of Social Media by Stine Kirstein Junge
According to Stine Kirstein Junge the UNDP use social media to show they are transparent, to connect with conversations around development topics, to build communities in general and to advocate. The article provides some practical examples of how the UNDP use tools such as Facebook and Twitter.

How Can the Internet and Social Media Contribute to Community Communication for Empowerment? by Birgitte Jallov
Birgitte argues that access to high speed internet and connected smartphones is still not common among the marginalised and vulnerable communities in developing countries. She therefore believes it is more beneficial to focus on ‘empowerment radio’ in these communities. This paper is therefore centered around community radio stations and how they might integrate with social media in the future.

Social Media and Communication for Social Change – Towards an Equity Perspective by Rafael Obregon
Focusing on youth this paper briefly summarises academic literature on communication for development: information-focus and vertical communication towards the two-way participatory communication processes. It then goes on to discuss the power and limitations of social media. Obregon cites Clay Shirky who believes that  the power of social media depends upon a ‘number of enabling and timely contextual, social and political factors’. He goes on to discuss how youth have been mobilized as a result of access to new technologies, but that implementation of programs that explicitly aim to reach the most marginalized must be an essential part of equity-driven programs.

I’m looking forward to Orecomm 2013 already!!!

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UNICEF the most social UK charity

A 60 page report from Visceral Business was released earlier this summer revealing which charities in the UK are most successful in Social Media. Their 2012 Charity Social 100 Index includes many organisations which work in developing countries.

With other pieces of research into social media it is not 100% sure how they came to their conclusions, however there is a great deal of information in the report that is useful. Unsurpisingly Facebook, Twitter and Youtube are the most popular social media tools used by charities. These are followed by Flickr, LinkedIn, Google and Twitter. I was surprised that only a few organisations use Slideshare as it is a fantastic tool for sharing information.

The management of social media is still mixed with a variety of roles responsible across charities including social media managers, the digital team, marketing team and other various departments.

I won’t go into too much detail here as you can download the  2012 Charity Social 100 Index for FREE. It’s an interesting read.

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