A new genre of NGO videos?

Redd Barna (Save the Children Norway) released a video earlier this week as part of their #BirthofInvoice campaign. The video spoof shows the pilot of a new “birth meter” which is being installed in Harstad Hospital in Norway. The film includes a project manager for a project called “Cost control in maternity care.” which has been designed to streamline the work of midwives. The meter efficiently records all the requirements of a birth such as nitrous oxide, epidurals and consent. At the end of the process the baby is then tagged with a barcode so that the costs can be quickly calculated and a bill provided for the new parents.

The midwives in the video did not know anything about the film, whereas the instructor and the woman in the bed are actors. Lisa Brodshaug, Campaign Advisor at Save the Children said “We contacted the management of the hospital to ask permission to film the spoof. The midwives were told to attend a training for a new tool to help them in their daily work. Their reactions appear when they realize this birth meter is designed to print an invoice in the end, for the mother to carry with the baby out of the hospital. We chose to use a hidden camera to capture their natural reactions when exposed to the birth meter. We assumed that the midwives’ instinct would be activated, and we were right. They told us afterwards that they were furious during the session and most of all wanted to slap the instructor across his face. Interesting then, to see how controlled they are when communicating their objections.”

The video which films the reaction of real midwives in Norway reminds me slightly of the annoying but very popular prank show, Beadles About. There have been quite a few videos produced in the last few years which either use spoofs e.g. Africa for Norway or a strategy of “it’s not happening here yet…..”, which also reminds me of the very clever outdoor advertising campaign from Amnesty International a few years ago.


It seems as this type of communication style is very effective. The Save the Children UK video Most Shocking Second a Day now has over 45 million views. At the end of the #BirthofInvoice video there is the opportunity to use an online tool to see what the cost would have been for the birth of your existing children. This ‘birth invoice can be shared via social media. Lisa Brodshaug commented “Numbers show that we hit the nail with our suggested action for showing support; to make people share their own birth invoice with an estimated amount according to their number of births. This has generated even more traffic on our sites and tells us that people need to relate and personalize the information in order to take action.”

The video has been produced to alert people to the kind of processes that go on in many countries. In Norway, like the UK, health care from qualified professionals during pregnancy and birth is free, whereas in other countries women have to pay for vital health care. Those who cannot afford to pay often give birth at home without professional help and risk both their own lives and the lives of their baby. As part of this campaign, Save the Children aim to increase awareness of this problem and advocate for free healthcare across the world as part of the new Sustainable Development Goals.

It seems the campaign is working!

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Screenshot 2014-11-30 at 11.51.33

Twitter Usage in Uganda

November 2014
Summary of findings

The majority of respondents were aged between 16 and 35 representing 86%. 64.8% of respondents were male.



The survey was completed by a wide range of professionals. 36% of respondents were from marketing/communications backgrounds, 16% of respondents from professional background and a response of 11% from students.

Executive / Director 11% Local Government 0%
Sales / Marketing 6% Government 4%
Communications / PR 19% Academic / Teacher 1%
Social Media Manager 10% Administrator 3%
Customer Service 1% College/Uni Student 11%
IT Professional 13% Other 5%
Prof (Doctor, Lawyer etc) 16%

70.4% of people who completed the survey are based in higher or intermediate managerial, administrative or professional positions.


The majority of people (87%) of people have one or two Twitter accounts.


79% of respondents have had their Twitter account for over 2 years and 43% over 4 years.


85% of respondents access Twitter via their mobile phone. The least popular method for accessing Twitter is via an Internet Cafe at 7%.


Ugandans seem to find Twitter quite addictive. 79% of people who completed the survey check Twitter more than 5 times a day with 64% checking over 10 times a day.


Ugandans are quite popular on Twitter too. 10.8% of people have over 5000 followers.


The most popular reasons for using Twitter are News (91%), Politics (78%) and Networking (78%). It is interesting that only 46% of people have said that they use Twitter to promote themselves but 78% use it as a form of networking. Obviously people do not consider networking as a component of self promotion.


Most people talk to their friends on Twitter with 87% females saying they speak to their friends either quite often or frequently, and 81% of males saying the same. The biggest difference between males and females is talking to co-workers on Twitter with 40% of females saying quite often or frequently compared to 53% of males. There is no difference between the two groups when it comes to brands which is 68%


77.8% of people follow up to 100 brands on Twitter, with 4% following over 500 brands.


Most people expect brands and businesses to be managed at weekends

Male Female
Yes 87% 93%
No 7% 13%

There is an assumption that people want relationships with brands and businesses on Twitter, but in Uganda customer service is the most important (67%), followed by quick access to information (63%). Interestingly Ugandans do not follow businesses for discounts (20%) or to feel connected (26%).


Brand, businesses and companies need to be ready to deal with complaints on social media. 86% of respondents have complained on Twitter. Men are more likely to complain with 87% of male respondents having complained compared to 80% of women.


67% of people expect a response to a complaint within 30 minutes with nearly 50% expecting a response within 10 minutes. If businesses are to ensure customers are satisfied they need to be managing their social media accounts regularly and responding quickly.


The majority (71.7%) want an apology, but just over 25% expect compensation. As we have seen in the previous pie chart, the majority of consumers expect a response within 30 minutes, so it is important that businesses are responsive and admit their mistake if necessary to build their brand reputation.


About this report

This report is the first study on the use of Twitter in Uganda and the motivations behind using it. To examine this topic a questionnaire was circulated online between 4th and 19th November 2014. The findings in this report are based on results from 162 respondents. 

The report has been compiled by David Girling and Collins Mugume of Intensity Technologies.

For further information contact:

David Girling
School of International Development
University of East Anglia
Twitter: @socialmedia4D

Collins Mugume
Intensity Technologies Ltd
Twitter: @cmugume



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The Making of Who Wants to be a Volunteer

Below is an interview with Kristin Marie Skaar and Kristoffer Kinge from SAIH about the planning of their wonderful new video ‘Who Wants to Be a Volunteer.Thank you Kristin and Kristoffer for the frank and honest answers to my questions.

This is your third very successful video and my favourite yet. Please explain the creative process behind your storytelling. How did you come up with the idea for Who Wants to Be a Volunteer?

Well, we started the creative process in January, and have been working on many different drafts all throughout the Spring. The initial ideas were very different from this one. The actual idea for WWTBAV came in June, when one of us got a crazy idea about making an “African game show”. Then another mentioned that it should be called Who Wants To Be a Volunteer, and play off the original Millionaire game show, and the ball started rolling. We started making drafts, and we’ve been through many ideas for questions, challenge scenes etc.

iKind – the South African company which made the video – gave us great feedback on each idea, and also came up with several new ideas and twists to existing scenes. It’s been a long process with funding applications, dozens of creative meetings, countless Skype sessions with iKind etc., but it’s all been worth it when we see the engagement the video creates across the world.

How many people were involved with making this film? You have Lilly, the Presenter, audience members, dancers etc and that’s just the “actors”, let alone the director, producer, camera operators etc.

Wer’e actually not sure of how many extras we’ve had in the film, but the creative team in SAIH has existed of 9 people throughout the year (some were only active in the beginning etc.), lead by Kristoffer, Sindre and Kristin (12 people overall). The South African team were 11, and then there’s the actors Breezy V, Michael and Katy, plus the dancers and the other participants in the challenges. Here are the credits list from the video below.

– Executive Producers: Kristoffer Kinge, Sindre Edland-Gryt, Kristin Marie Skaar
– Creative Team:
– Stine Navarsete
– Eva Lien
– Jørn Wichne Pedersen
– Almaz Asfaha
– Annette Hexeberg Hammerstad
– Vanessa Merinen
– Cathrine Nodberg
– Kaare Bilden
– Erlend Seilskjær

– South African Team:
– Director, writer and co-writer : Matt Nefdt
– Producer, writer and co-writer : Devin Carter
– Production Manager : Rose Lovell
– Executive Producer : Michael Nefdt
– Production Design : Clint McLean
– DOP : Devin Carter
– Gaffer : Jonathan Nivison
– Sound : Ryan Hall
– Makeup and Hair : Pam McNeill
– Camera Assistant/Jib Operator : Dylan Marriot
– Production Assistant : Calyn Hilder

– Cast :
– Game Show Host : Breezy V
– Contestant : Katy Moore
– Guest Appearance : Michael Mbhele
– Dancers from Flatfoot Dance Company

– Post :
– Offline : Devin Carter
– Online : Matt Nefdt
– Music composition/sound design : Kurt Peinke

How long did the video take to make. Please explain the process from early concept brainstorming, through to story boarding, script writing, filming and post production.

We started in January and we’ve probably had about 10 creative brainstorming sessions with the creative team (especially before the summer), 15 story boarding and script writing sessions, and several post production meetings with iKind. Of course it’s also been the discussed quite a lot here at the office, especially between Sindre and Kristoffer.

Since we didn’t get the funding before May, we were unsure about whether we’d actually be able make the video. We’ve probably been through 15 different drafts and ideas, but when we came up with the idea for the WWTBAV in June the process intensified. We sent our drafts to iKind, and they went through them and sent us back treatments and scripts. We’ve also had Skype meetings where we discussed the drafts and scripts in detail. That process started in August, and they started filming in September. They’ve sent us about 5-6 different versions of the video, and we got the final one the 6th of November (the day before the launch!).

The Million dollar question (I have to credit the trope somehow) – how much did this film cost to make and who funded it? Do you think it is good use of money and why?

The film and website cost about 116 000 NOK (around £11,000) in total, which is a really low amount of money compared to comparable informational videos. We received 200 000 NOK in funding from Norad (the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation), through their special funding system for civil society organizations working with advocacy and information activities to raise awareness among the general public in Norway around development issues. We could never have managed this without this funding and the cooperation with iKind, so we are very grateful for that.

When you see how much debate, engagement and media attention the video has sparked, I would absolutely argue that it’s a good use of money. The video has reached more than 430 000 views on YouTube (and the number is rising fast!), and has been covered by media from Japan and South Africa to the US and Norway. As we’ve seen with our two previous videos, we reach much farther by using creativity and humour when addressing serious issues. People have reacted very well to the video, which is really fun for us to see! Our goal is to raise awareness and stimulate debate.

Please explain more about the seeding strategy – both online and offline. You have received amazing media coverage again this year so I am particularly interested in your offline PR strategy. Did you pay for any YouTube advertising?

We haven’t paid for any YouTube advertising etc. We can’t afford using money on that kind of thing. The #1 one strategy that we’ve had every year since our first video is the timing: Well in time before Christmas, around the same time when the big NGOs start their Christmas fundraising campaigns (and also when Band Aid tends to pop up – like this year!). The release day we’ve set to a Friday around lunch time, a time when people start getting ready for less serious stuff and looking forward to the weekend. Then the video can start “moving” during the weekend. This strategy has worked very well. Of course, contacting people on Twitter and spreading it on Facebook in the beginning has helped getting it all started. We’ve also had a kind of seeding strategy every year. But for instance, the first year, we had prepared a long list of bloggers, people on Twitter and media that we wanted to use. When the video was out, it started to seed itself instead. This has happened every year. It also looks like the kick-off we had in 2012 is still alive in a way, which makes all this flow by itself. When BBC, News24 Africa, Al Jazeera++ suddenly calls our little office here in Oslo – that’s just amazing and beyond our dreams!

When it comes to media specifically, we’ve kept a list of international journalists and media channels who have written about our videos the last two years, so when we sent out our international press release all these were included in the list. Also, social media definitely has played its part in spreading the video to blogs and news channels.

It’s kind of interesting that we’ve received much more media coverage internationally than nationally.

Of course, we’ve had a separate media plan nationally here in Norway. For instance, this year we worked a lot prior to the release date to get Norwegian media to write about the awards and the video. The national broadcasting NRK took the story and also invited us to talk about it on the radio, etc. In addition, after our press release we received a call from two other large newspapers, and so it continued.

Obviously you are interested in raising awareness of stereotypes in development communications, especially fundraising, but what is your number one aim?

First of all, numerous writers, politicians, activists and organizations from the global south have for years criticized the way African countries are being portrayed in western media and in fundraising campaigns. This has inspired us. SAIH has worked with a topic we’ve called “Our view of the South” for many years now. As SAIH’s primary expertise is education projects – and the organization is run by students – one important goal when it comes to this specific theme is to engage, educate and raise awareness in the general public about what the world actually looks like. It’s not as “black and white” as fundraising campaigns have tended to frame it. All this use of stereotypes creates a distance between “us” and “them”, and it is also misinforming people’s general view. We also believe it creates apathy instead of action.

Which do you think has been most successful in terms of raising awareness, is it the Rusty and Golden Radiator Awards or the videos?

So far, the videos. Last year, the first time we had the awards, we received around 5-6000 votes, while around 700,000 saw the video. And when BBC called yesterday, they hadn’t heard about the awards, only the videos. So this is something we’re working on. The videos are of course easier to relate to, they are funny and lasts for 3 minutes. Perfect for social media. And they seem to create debate and awareness and have been referenced to in a lot of different discussions. While the awards require more time, and it might be something that’s difficult to understand immediately. Also, it might be more for those who are interested in fundraising and the NGO world? Still, it’s something that really illustrates what we are working on, and it is in these cases that we actually address the large NGO’s and their fundraising communication directly. It might just need some time to get settled.

Lastly, did you manage to see Bob Geldof’s speech on X-Factor? I’d love to know what you think.

We haven’t seen it! Heard it was horrible..? Would love to hear it all if you got it.

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Social Media in Kenya – Part 3

Below is a link to the presentation I delivered at Pawa 254 in Nairobi on ‘Social Media for Mobilization, Fundraising and Democracy’ along with Mark Kaigwa from Nendo.

I learned a great deal about social media whilst I was in Nairobi. In my first blog post on Kenya I said that “Twitter is only accessible to the middle classes and elites here due to affordability.” I got some criticism about this from a number of Kenyans on Twitter (#KOT). Maybe the wording was a bit clumsy. One of my followers said that Twitter is very affordable

Maybe I should have said that Twitter is not relevant to many people in Kenya and is still mainly the domain of the middle classes and elites. After talking to the people that attended my talk, I would say that this is a reasonably fair statement.

In my recent video ‘Does social media have the power to change the world’ I quote from Pew Research that 48% of the World’s unconnected population think that the internet is not relevant to their lives, due to lack of relevance, cost, infrastructure, local language content, skills training and illiteracy.

I read somewhere the other day that around 75% of all content on social media is in English. I think this statistic will slowly change in the future. In the Q&A after the talk there was a lot of discussion around what the future of social media might look like. I am sure that there will be a lot more mergers and acquisitions by the likes of Facebook, Google and Twitter. Mark Kaigwa suggested that there is likely to be more services offered by Chinese social media companies such as Sino Weibo and We Chat. Some of these providers e.g. We Chat already offer a number of services that are not available from their western counterparts. Mark also proffered that there will likely be new solutions designed in the South for the South. I hope this is true.

Social media is making a difference in Kenya, from the Ushahidi platform being used to monitor the elections to Twitter campaigns such as #BabaWhileYouWereAway. One of my favourite examples of social media in Kenya is the story of Chief Kariuki who uses Twitter as a tool for policing, neighbourhood watch and crime reporting activities. In January this year the Chief Kariuki trained 400 other chiefs from the Nyeri County to help curb crime in their area of jurisdiction. I am sure we will see other wonderful initiatives like this in the future.

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Social Media in Kenya – Part 2

I have met a lot of people over the last few days and at every opportunity I talk to them about social media. There is no doubt that social media in Kenya is growing at a rapid pace and I am positive that it will become more and more important for development over the next few years.

Nairobi has been nicknamed Silicon Savannah due to the large number of tech companies operating in the city. Today I was honoured to have a guided tour of iHub by co-founder Erik Hersman. iHub is one of the leading tech incubators in East Africa with technologists, entrepreneurs, software developers, web designers, researchers and programmers all working together in one building. One of the best features of the building in my opinion is the open plan space which can be used by any of the 14,000 strong i-Hub community. The space is also used for regular events such as Google developer meetups, expert talks, ‘fireside’ chats and training.


iHub offers many services such as iHub Research, iHub Consulting and iHub User Experience Lab which is the first of its kind in the region. There is an abundance of support available to the community which enables young entrepreneurs and start-up businesses to network with like-minded individuals and gain knowledge from the numerous events on offer. iHub is also home to two projects that I find totally inspiring: the Ushahidi platform which has been used for disaster management across the world and BRCK, an amazing portable (and much smaller and lighter than I thought) backup generator which has the power to revolutionize connectivity to the internet. Both of these I rave about in my lectures on Social Media and International Development.


I asked Erik how he envisages social media to change in the next five years. “I think that social media has already had an impact in Kenya especially over the last couple of years, for example the #KOT hashtag (Kenyans on Twitter) is already acting as a watchdog and allowing civil society to comment on politics, brands, public sector services, the media and more. The cost of mobile technologies are dropping and you can already buy a smartphone for around $50-80 which offers the same functionality as many of the more expensive smartphones, it’s just that the experience is not so good. Due to these lower costs more people will be able to afford mobile internet and therefore increased accessibility and diffusion is inevitable. Kenya has also benefited from the undersea cables first laid in 2009 which have enabled high speed broadband access. People often think of Facebook and Twitter when they talk about social media and forget about bulletin boards. Bulletin boards have been hugely influential in the tech community for sharing knowledge and ideas, in fact they are still important today.”

There’s a great example of the #KOT in action today which managed to get the government to stop wasting a bit of money on an outdated tender. The Twitter campaign was also covered on the national television news.

Social media as the name suggests is designed connect people, to enable them to be social and to share experiences. It is these shared customer experiences that has transformed customer service in the West. There are numerous case studies of organisations having to rethink their customer service strategies to mange their tainted reputation e.g. Dell Hell, United Breaks Guitar,  and the British Gas Q&A PR disaster.

For my research I talk to a lot of charities and NGOs about their social media activity. A couple of international NGOs have recently noticed that they are receiving more comments from their beneficiaries in the global South. These comments will undoubtedly rise in the future which will be an interesting time for many organisations. I am sure that many will relish the opportunity for feedback whether it is positive or negative, others will struggle with this new accountability and disruption to the status quo. Like organisations in the private sector such as Dell and United Airlines, NGOs would be wise to accept this new addition to the feedback process as a step towards improving their service.


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