Barbie White Saviour Complex

This semester I’ve been teaching on a Humanitarian Communication module for the BA Media and International Development degree at UEA. Whilst planning my lecture on social media and development, I can came across this hilarious new Instagram account – Barbie Savior. It has over 5,000 followers in less than 5 weeks and I’m sure that this will increase at a rapid rate. Big respect to whoever came up with this very funny parody of the White Saviour Complex. It reminds me slightly of the Humanitarians of Tinder site set up a couple of years ago. It’s great that people are taking the time to come up with inventive ideas to raise awareness of the potential harm of voluntourism. Shame that a couple of Bratz Dolls have made it into some photos. That’s just wrong.

Two of my personal favourites – Barbie #Slumfie

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Barbie Dancing

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DFID and their use of social media – 2015

It’s been nearly two years since I wrote about DFID and their use of social media. I met with Marisol Grandon, Head of Creative Content to hear about their latest initiatives. Marisol explained how their interaction via social media has transformed over the last year or two “One of our key improvements is the design elements within our social media output which has gone from strength to strength. We have recently been producing more short form graphics. Smartphones are increasingly available even on a tight budget and people want bitesize news in 15 seconds or less.  Many people these days are time restricted and also tend to consume these news clips without their sound on – visual news is perfect for these audiences. ” I’ve noticed myself over the past few months how DFIDs content is growing in terms of visual output. They are still very strong advocates of good quality visuals. One great example of this is their coverage of the Global Goals.

Personally I don’t generally like animated news bites, perhaps I’m showing my age. What I was pleased to hear about is their experimentation with Periscope. Marisol explained that it is still very much a minority audience, but for those that do engage they thrive on the immediacy and interactive nature. In June, Michelle Obama’s speech when she visited Mulberry School for Girls in Tower Hamlets, was broadcast on Periscope with an audience of 2000 people. David Cameron’s speech about the Global Goals was similarly well received. In my opinion, the demand for live broadcasts will only increase as mobile data improves.

DFID’s core established social media of Facebook, Twitter and Flickr continue to be the most popular. In fact both Facebook and Twitter followers have more or less doubled since 2013 – Twitter has increased from 116,000 to 215,000 and Facebook 42,000 to 87,000.

Marisol feels it is important to explore the potential of new social media platforms. DFID launched its Snapchat channel this September at the first ever #YouthSummit held at DFID. International Development Secretary, Justine Greening said “Globally, over 1.8 billion people in the world are aged between 10 and 24 – the vast majority are living in less developed countries and face uncertain futures. These young people can be the leaders, teachers and entrepreneurs of tomorrow. There is no question they must be at the heart of our efforts to tackle global poverty. The face of development is a young face and the UK’s first ever Youth Summit gives young people all over the world the chance to have their voices heard. But the journey doesn’t end here. Young people will be at the centre of our work to create a world that is healthier, safer and more prosperous for everyone.”

Snapchat is an ideal platform to talk to the UK’s youth. It now has over 100 million subscribers. The lo-fi aspect of Snapchat means that it is all about creativity with it’s stickers and lightness of touch. Sometimes communications people can find this aspect of their work difficult, especially in a Government organisation. I look forward to hearing whether DFID’s Snapchat channel is a success or not.

The area I enjoyed hearing about the most was DFID’s recent engagement with long form social media. Marisol said “International Development suits the long form treatment. It allows stories to be explained in a visual, compelling and nuanced way. Our followers are electing to learn more about complex issues and long form is the perfect vehicle for this. We have been using platforms such as Storehouse, Exposure, Immersive and Shorthand more and more.”

I confess that I have not really explored the possibilities of long form social media much, but I was very impressed with DFID’s Married at 3, Divorced at 7 article and the Medics Behind the Mask. which were both very educating.

Marisol ended by sharing her excitement for the potential of new apps and technologies. “I’ve been really impressed with some of the recent virtual reality films. I think with new advances such as Google Cardboard we will see levels of access rise dramatically. The interactivity of live video within apps like Periscope is what makes it so exciting and makes YouTube look almost slow and old fashioned.”

I’m slightly surprised by this closing remark as DFID have never really invested in their YouTube channel (which I commented on in my first blog), perhaps they foresaw the potential of VR before the rest of us. I sense we might see the first DFID VR film before my next blog post…..

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World Water Day and Mustafah Abdulaziz

For the UN World Water Day tomorrow WaterAid have come up with another innovative idea to inject life into their social media channels. To highlight the 1 in 10 people around the globe without access to clean drinking water they have partnered with celebrated photojournalist Mustafah Abdulaziz. American-born Mustafah Abdulaziz is a Berlin-based photographer whose work has appeared in CNN OnlineDazed and Confused and others. Abdulaziz will also take over WaterAid’s Instagram feed for a full week with his stunning images from WaterAid projects in Pakistan.

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Pakistan is one of six countries where WaterAid is working with the support of the HSBC Water Programme. The five-year programme aims to reach 1.1 million people with safe water and 1.9 million people with sanitation in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan in South Asia; and Nigeria and Ghana in West Africa.

Neil Wissink, Senior Photography Officer at WaterAid, said:

“We wanted to harness Mustafah’s passion for the subject and show water and sanitation issues from a different perspective. We’re really pleased to have the opportunity to collaborate with a photojournalist like Mustafah.”

Follow WaterAid @WaterAid on Instagram from March 22 to view the project

Image Credit: WatwerAid / Mustafah Abdulaziz
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WaterAid increases Instagram following with one Instavid

WaterAid has increased its Instagram presence by over 20,000 followers in just one week after entering a single ‘Instavid’ to Instagram’s ‘Weekend Hashtag Project’ competition.

WaterAid’s film team entered the 15 second Instavid ‘WHP:fromwhereiwalk’, featuring a woman in the remote fishing community of Brubeng, Ghana walking to collect unsafe water in Lake Volta. The clip was selected by Instagram as one of their favourite submissions.

The unique was shot on a GoPro positioned on the woman’s head and angled down towards her feet. The innovative film offers point of view footage that highlights what it is like for millions of women around the world who walk miles to collect water each day and comes from a longer shot of water collection now featured on the charity’s YouTube Channel.

WaterAid Film Producer Catherine Feltham who shot the footage in Ghana said:

“We’re really thrilled to see that the Instagram community has responded so well to our submission; we have not only gained followers, but people are engaging more with WaterAid’s stories on the channel with likes and comments. When we spotted the brief we realised it was the perfect opportunity to be able to raise awareness of the challenging circumstances in which millions of women collect water each day around the world. I think this footage stood out as it was so different to the other entries; people do not expect to see women wading through a dirty lake to collect water in 2014, and yet the tragic reality is that 768 million people still live without access to safe water.”

This is a great example of how charities can increase their social media followers through a simple but innovative initiative.

To follow their updates on Instagram please visit: http://instagram.com/wateraid

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