springster-girl-effect

Springster – a mobile first platform to connect vulnerable girls

Springster – a mobile-first platform to connect vulnerable girls to each other and to relevant information and advice.

The world is getting more connected every day. In 2017 there were nearly 5 billion unique mobile users – 66% of the population. Globally there is a much more burgeoning connectivity amongst females, which means that there are more and more vulnerable girls online. In the next 5 years it is predicted that two out of every three new mobile owners is going to be female.

I was delighted to interview Esther Press, who is the Global Content Manager for Springster, a unique mobile-first behaviour change platform, created by Girl Effect, which aims to build vulnerable girls’ confidence, knowledge and skills. One of Facebook Free Basics’ top five most visited sites, Springster is available in 69 countries across the world and translated into 17 languages. Each time Facebook announces that it will be launching in a new country, Springster ensures content is available for that market. Springster is currently launching in Cameroon, Sudan and Cote d’Ivoire.

The project has been designed after extensive research in Asia and Africa with over 350 girls, 100 boys and a number of parents, experts and influencers. Insights from these research workshops enable content to be created that helps girls face their everyday challenges.

Springster has been optimised specifically for low-bandwidth environments so that it is available on feature phones as well as smartphones. The content is inspired by teen media platforms like Buzzfeed and the Khan Academy. Springster currently has around 1.3 million average monthly users and received 30 million unique visitors since its launch in 2015.

Springster has four key ‘deeper dive’ markets – South Africa, Nigeria, Philippines and Indonesia. In each of these markets there are dedicated content teams made up of girl writers, researchers, creatives, planners and account managers.
Esther commented “We have a unique evidence-based approach to content creation. In each of the key markets we carry out extensive research into the cultural and social elements which affect the kind of content that girls want to be delivered. It’s super localised and personalised. The rest of the markets benefit from a global content set and Girl Effect work with global freelancers, where we have a roster of incredible writers who are based across the world. We don’t just work with writers in the UK. In the future we aim to localise and tailor content in more countries.”

Moderation and Safeguarding

In each of the key markets, there are dedicated moderators called “Big Sisters”. Their persona is a trusted, sassy, older sister. All of the Big Sisters are trained in child safeguarding and gender issues and work on the Springster content management system to answer all the comments. In Nigeria they can receive over 3000 comments per month. There’s also a stringent flagging process in place for profanities and risky comments, whereas in the global markets comments are not switched on.
People can only comment on the site once they have registered. When individuals register no personal identifiable details are taken. The big difference from platforms like Facebook is that no personal information is asked for. Individuals are encouraged to set up a username which has no link to their real identity. There is no messaging platform within the site, so no one can contact individuals directly.

Entertainment with a purpose

Springster at the end of the day is a behaviour change product. The site needs to be entertaining to capture girls’ attention, but every single article has a purpose. Girls benefit from the reassurance and advice generated by shared stories and experiences from other girls like them. Content that caters for girls’ needs is often hard to find and topics they want to find out more about e.g. periods, relationships, sex are often not readily available. It is important that articles are culturally on trend, looking at topics of the day such as K-Pop and celebrity culture. As Esther commented “We put the girl at the heart of everything we do. We want to celebrate the diverse, inspirational and convention-defying experiences of girls. We look at the attitudes, knowledge and behaviour that we need to change to impact their world.”

Even the use of imagery is extensively tested so that it is relevant. In Indonesia girls responded mostly to quirky drawings and cute illustrations, whilst in South Africa the research showed that girls would find photography more appealing and engaging.
Measuring Impact
Springster has a custom-built dashboard to measure the impact of its activities. Using a range of measurements such as surveys, comment analysis, site analytics and interviews with girls who have used the platform they are aiming to measure changes across all of the impact areas that they have identified. This data also informs what kinds of stories Springster need to focus on in the future.

Future Plans

In the future Springster intend to extend their reach in the social media ecosphere. They are currently researching options to introduce YouTube and Instagram in their key markets, but are also considering BBM, WhatsApp and Dark Social.
Crucially, the team are working on plans to better utilise the incredibly rich data related to reach, engagement and participation on Springster, by launching a new measurement dashboard in 2018. This dashboard will not only measure how girls use the platform, but to what extent it has helped shift girls’ knowledge, attitude and behaviour in the offline world too. This innovative approach has seen the brand featured as a best practice case study by DIAL, the Digital Impact Alliance at the United Nations Foundation, as part of their series on the ‘Principles for Digital Development’.

To find out more about Springster click here: http://www.girleffect.org/what-we-do/springster/

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midwives4all

Midwivesforall – Engaging policy makers through social media

Nearly 300,000 women lose their life due to childbirth every year and almost 3 million newborns die in the first month of their life. Earlier this year the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Sweden launched a global campaign called ‘midwives4all’.

Uganda’s maternal and health indicators are amongst the poorest in the world. High maternal mortality is fuelled by a lack of trained midwives and low staff retention. As a response to this the Embassy of Sweden in Uganda joined the midwives4all campaign to influence policy makers, mobilise communities and attract young people to train as midwives.

Next up in our warm-up for the #midwives4all documentary, our champion, Hon. Dr. Chris Baryomunsi, Minister of State for Health, on Uganda’s progress with MDG 4 and 5

Posted by Embassy of Sweden in Kampala on Friday, June 12, 2015

 midwives4all worked with mass media (TV, radio and print) and organised a series of events to promote the campaigns and its key messages. Social Media also played a large part in the campaign. To reach out to a younger segment and to create a social media storm, a half day seminar for 38 young bloggers was organised.

Ane-Kirstine Bagger Birnbaum who is a National Program Officer for the Embassy of Sweden in Uganda said “The young bloggers’ seminar was a collaboration with a youth-led organisation called Reach a Hand Uganda (RAHU). I had worked with them at my previous workplace and approached them to see if they could help me get a good group of young bloggers. RAHU works on advocacy in the area of adolescent sexual and reproductive health and are frequently experimenting with ‘alternative’ media channels – i.e. social media (storms, hackathons), pop music and arts, flash mobs, etc. They have a network of peer educators who have all been trained in issues of young people’s sexual and reproductive health. The young bloggers that participated were therefore familiar with the concepts of maternal health and the benefits of using midwifes and at the same time they fitted with the key message of making midwifery a career of choice for young people. In addition to the RAHU peer educators, I had also identified a few midwifery students to participate to ensure a balanced discussion. The bloggers not only created a social media storm (as a warm up to one of our campaign events), it also helped the Embassy establish a small pool of advocates / ambassadors for the campaign cause.”

The seminar attracted a lot of attention and reached 631,512 Twitter users. It was an innovative and cost effective way to reach a new audience as well as building capacity. In addition to the blogging event a total of 46 campaign related updates were posted on the Embassy’s Facebook page with a total of 1,059 likes and a reach of 71,494. Twitter was also used actively with a total of 263 tweets from the Embassy’s and the Ambassador’s official Twitter accounts.

I asked Ane-Kirstine what advice she would give to other development organisations who want to engage with policy makers about issues using social media. She gave me 5 tips:

 

  1. Have a clear strategy: Campaigning on social media is open to everybody and the social media channels are overflowing with different types of campaigns and drives. So a clear strategy of how to use social media and who to target is essential.
  2. Boost professionalism /credibility: Use evidence, make sure your campaign is contextualized.
  3. Be visual: Use lots of pictures, infographics and develop a logo or a poster / banner for your campaign – it doesn’t need to be expensive but makes a big difference
  4. Engage key advocates / stakeholders directly and ask them to take part in or support the campaign – this gives buy-in and makes you more credible
  5. Try to think out of the box: Use the information / commitments you’ve gathered strategically – hand them over to a policy maker, try to get them announced on radio, link your campaign up with a small event (debate, competition, etc)
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shamba-shape-up

Shamba Shape Up and the Use of Social Media

Shamba Shape Up is a reality style TV show designed to educate East Africa’s rapidly growing rural audience. The make over style show aims to give both farmer and the audience the tools they need to improve productivity and income on their farms. Each week the Shape Up team visit a different farm in a different area of the country. The team includes the film crew and a number of experts from partner organisations who specialize in the topics to be covered in the episode. The core of the series tackles issues surrounding livestock, poultry, crops and soil fertility. Other relevant topics include financial planning, solar power and harvesting rainwater.

The series is also supported online with a popular Facebook page which has around 44,500 fans, a Twitter page which has nearly 3,000 followers, a YouTube channel, and recently, a blog and Instagram. The interaction on the Facebook page is pretty impressive.

As well as online, viewers without internet or power can SMS a database and ask for information in the form of leaflets. These leaflets are posted to people free of charge once they SMS asking for them. So far 250,000 have been distributed. Recently, Shamba Shape Up has moved to mobile, with the starting of iShamba. iShamba is a mobile information service, which gives subscribers access to a call centre, SMS service, weather reports, farming tips and deals or advice form commercial partners.

Katharine MacMahon, Communications Officer for Shamba Shape Up said “The social media has been a great tool for us, with our Facebook page becoming a hub for farmers to get advice from either us or from other farmers on the group. We run regular competitions with our partners help, and also invite people to send in photos of their farm and get involved in discussions. In general, the Facebook page is farmer-focused.

In comparison, the Twitter page, which is much smaller, has more of a partner-focus. We interact with our partners and the information they have to offer much more on Twitter, with more of a complex nature (on the Facebook page, posts must not have words which are more than 7 letters long – keeping it easy to read for farmers who may be less educated).

Last month we held a Tweetchat on #TalkSoil, in the lead up to Global Soil Week, with the help of CIAT. It was successful in both discussing the issues surrounding soil health, and also to raise the profile of Shamba Shape Up in the agricultural community on Twitter. To increase the number of Twitter followers, we aim to tweet much more than we currently do, get involved with more discussions and tweet chats and engage more with #KOT (#KenyansOnTwitter – a huge hashtag in Kenya used by millions), and connect with more farmers here.”

The show is on TV in Kenya (4 million viewers), Uganda (2 million viewers) and Tanzania (4 million viewers). It was started in 2008, and became Kenya’s reality style TV show. It is the third “edu-tainment” production created by Mediae.

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