Most viewed YouTube videos by 10 UK charities supporting international development

I’ve always been interested in the power of video as a form of storytelling, especially when supporting international development issues. So I decided to look at 10 UK charities to see what their most viewed video is. It’s hard to tell whether the videos shared organically or whether there was a substantial amount of advertising, so I have included the number of likes and comments below each video and also a very brief description of the content. Here they are in alphabetical order by charity – rather than listed by popularity.

ActionAid UK – a life transformed by ActionAid’s sponsorship programme | Child Sponsorship

Action Aid – most popular YouTube video

Subscribers – 2.47k – Video Published – 21/11/2012 – Views – 117,000 – Likes – 68 – Comments 2

Narrated by Purna Kala Shah, who has been a midwife in Nepal for 26 years. Purna came from a poor background and her family could not afford education. She was sponsored by ActionAid supporters from the age of 12 which has enabled her to follow her career dreams.

CARE International UK – Lendwithcare animated film

CARE International UK – most popular YouTube video

Subscribers 1.4kVideo Published11/4/2016 Views57,000Likes8Comments 0

This animation is narrated by Joanna Lumley, a well-known UK actress. The animation starts with a depiction of a young girl, Hope, with a story about her loving to braid hair, but her family are poor and can’t afford education (seems familiar, see film above). We then jet across the world to Emma who gets taken to the hairdressers with her mum as a treat each month. However, one day in the salon she reads about the lendwithcare scheme and as a result Emma’s mum Barbara lends the money to Hope who sets up her salon. None of the countries are mentioned but the supposed “developing countries” are both rural compared to the urban western donor.

Christian Aid – Refugee Appeal: Helping the stranger

Christian Aid – most popular YouTube video

Subscribers 5.09kVideo Published10/9/2015 Views600,000Likes18Comments 1

A short fundraising video for refugees in Northern Iraq. Mainly images of children eating and drinking with text overlaid quoting from the Bible – Matthew 25:35

Comic Relief – Mr Bean’s Wedding

Comic Relief – most popular YouTube video

Subscribers 804kVideo Published16/3/2009 Views24,400,000Likes79Comments 334

I can’t stand Mr Bean so refused to watch this 🙂 But obviously a lot of people disagree with me.

Doctors Without Borders – How The Body Reacts To Tuberculosis

Doctors Without Borders – most popular YouTube video

Subscribers 27.4kVideo Published20/3/2014 Views693,500Likes4,700Comments 2,130

A nicely designed infographic video giving information about tuberculosis.

Oxfam GB – Flashmob: Pregnant women breakdancing in London

Oxfam GB – most popular YouTube video

Subscribers 18.9kVideo Published22/9/2008 Views1,800,000Likes4,000Comments 613

I’ve used this video in several lectures. Love it!

Save the Children UK – Most Shocking Second a Day Video

Save the Children UK – most popular YouTube video

Subscribers 145kVideo Published5/3/2014 Views74,000,000Likes1,000,000Comments – turned off

I’ve also shown this video in a lot of lectures. I believe it is the most viewed UK charity video to date with 74 million views. I’m sure it has very high production costs and I suspect had a decent amount of advertising spend. However, it’s a great film.

Sightsavers – A message from students in Sierra Leone

Sightsavers – most popular YouTube video

Subscribers 1.7kVideo Published25/5/2021 Views74,000Likes15Comments – 1

Narrated by children in Sierra Leone asking people to sign an open letter to demand world leaders to put children with disabilities at the heart of education plans.

Tearfund – What is Poverty?

Tearfund – most popular YouTube video

Subscribers 5.5kVideo Published3/6/2015 Views494,500Likes4.4kComments – 261

This is my favourite of all the videos. I’m really surprised I’ve not seen this before. It made me go cold at the end. A brilliant video about some of the causes of poverty. I could write a whole blog post about this. Maybe I will one day 🙂

World Vision UK – Zeinab’s Story | Child Marriage

World Vision UK – most popular YouTube video

Subscribers 2.1kVideo Published14/8/2015 Views127,500Likes769Comments – 138

Narrated by Zeinab, a 14 year old child bride. I felt uncomfortable watching this video and personally think it is unethical to focus on a 14 year old in a charity campaign. See my blog post from December last year discussing the use of children in charity campaigns.

Using social media to report cases of gender based violence in rural Malawi

I recently met with Patricia Mtungila, who is the founder of Purple Innovation, an NGO supporting women and girls in Malawi. Their main objective is to advance women’s empowerment and reduce violence against women and girls through training and access to digital and traditional information on interventions on women and girls in Malawi.

One of their latest projects is to train girls in citizen journalism and how they can tell their stories, especially stories about gender-based violence (GBV) using their phones. I was interested to find out more about why social media is considered an effective way to report GBV. One of the main reasons is due to the ease and speed of publishing information in rural areas. In the training sessions, participants are given advice on how to take photos to document any acts of violence. But also, how to take these images to protect the identity of the person who has been abused.

These photos are then sent to Purple Innovation via either WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger so that they can pass the evidence on to a Gender Technical Working Group at the District Council level. The working group includes various stakeholders such as police, the victim support unit and gender officers who are working to combat gender-based violence. Due to the relationship that Purple Innovation has built with the working group, cases are taken very seriously and several cases that have been followed up by the police have gone to court resulting in convictions.

A recent example of someone who contacted Patricia and her team was a lady who was scolded with hot water by her husband. The child protection worker in that area took a photograph of the burn as evidence and sent the image with an attached voice note to Purple Innovation. Although the victim had reported the abuse to both the local police and the hospital, nothing had been done to arrest the perpetrator. Whereas now this evidence has been escalated to the relevant department within the council to investigate.

Protection against cyber bullying

Patricia does not just train girls how to report crimes of abuse using social media, she also offers advice on protection against cyber bullying. This involves warnings about posting images online that can be open to abuse and how to conduct yourself online. It is good that these trainings are available, but I wonder when the Government of Malawi, will (if ever) mainstream social media awareness and protection in schools.

Cyber bullying cards produced by Norfolk Constabulary and Broadland District Council – UK

I remember my children’s transition to high school a few years ago and social media protection / cyber bullying was high on the agenda.  Advice was given on privacy and safety i.e. posting personal information such as their own names and dates of birth or where they live, but also the kinds of information that might make them vulnerable to predators. Children are also warned about the potential risk to their own reputation and how posts can be screen shot or recorded and potentially shared for their whole life. How long will it be before this level of teaching is available to all children in Malawi via the school system? Why do we have to rely on NGOs like Purple Innovation to provide this education?

Cyber bullying cards produced by Norfolk Constabulary and Broadland District Council – UK


Database of Gender Based Violence

One last initiative by Purple Innovation is that they have developed an open access dashboard on their website of gender-based violence data which has been verified by the district council. The dashboard is accessible for researchers or reporters so they can write evidence based stories based on that data has been collected. It is often incredibly hard to find digitised data such as this in some countries, so this is an excellent tool that will help combat GBV in Malawi in the future!

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/

Social Media and International Development: Academic Texts

Here are a just a few of the academic texts and papers that I believe are informative for anyone studying social media’s relationship with international development.

Updated: 25/06/2017

TEXT BOOKS

General – Communication / Social Media

Boyd, D (2014) It’s Complicated: the social lives of networked teens
Boyd is has worked for Microsoft Research for a number of years and is one of the leading experts in the field of social media. The book focuses on youth in the US and how they lead their lives online. Some of the findings from her study are obvious, other quite illuminating.

Castells, M (2011) Communication Power
A key text in mass communication and power strategies. Castells coined the phrase “mass self-communication” to describe how social media and internet technologies have aided social movements.

Dijck, J V (2013) The Culture of Connectivity: A Critical History of Social Media
A historical and critical analysis of “connective media”.

Fuchs, C (2014) Social Media: a critical introduction
What are the implications of social media such as Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter for power, the economy and politics. This book provides a critical introduction for anyone studying social media

Hindman, M (2008) The Myth of Digital Democracy
Three years before the Arab Spring, Hindman argues that political blogs and the internet have done little to change the public sphere. Was he wrong?

Hinton, S and Hjorth, L (2014) Understanding Social Media
This is a very accessible critical introduction to social media. There are two particularly good chapters: ‘What is Web 2.0’ and ‘Social Network Sites’. The chapter on ‘Participation and User Generated Content’ also clearly explains the difference between user generated content and user created content and a great section on users as produers.

Jarvis, J (2011) Public Parts: How Sharing in the Digital Age Improves the Way We Work and Live
Jarvis firmly believes in the power of the internet and social media and how it ‘publicness’ allows us to think, collaborate and organize in ways that were impossible before.

Morozov, E (2011) The Net Delusion: How not to liberate the world
There are cyber-utopians and cyber-dystopians and Morozov firmly sits in the latter camp. Well, he’d prefer to call himself a cyber-realist. Some fascinating insights into censorship

Murthy, D (2013) Twitter: Social Communication in the Twitter Age
My favourite book of 2013. A brilliant introduction to the use of Twitter as a communication tool.

Rheingold, H (2002) Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution
Rheingold, a veteran technology writer predicts how mobile technologies will change the world. He predicted the power of the mobile phone ten years before the Arab Spring.

Shirky, C (2009) Here Comes Everybody: How Change Happens When People Come Together
An excellent book about group forming and how social media has made collective action “ridiculously easy”.

Trapscott, D (2009) Grown Up Digital: How the Net Generation Is Changing Your World
A fascinating insight into the ‘Net Generation’ and ‘Digital Natives’.

Weller, K, Bruns, A, Burgess, A, Mahrt, M (2013) Twitter and Society
A current overview of research into the uses of Twitter. There is also a section on analysing Twitter data.

Arab Spring and other social media “revolutions”

Castells, M (2012) Networks of Outrage and Hope: Social Movements in the Internet Age
An analysis of the new forms of social movements by the leading academic on networked societies.

Dabashi, H (2012) The Arab Spring: The End of Postcolonialism
Dabashi uses the phrase ‘delayed defiance’ for how the Arab Spring has transformed the geopolitics of the ‘Middle East’.

Gerbadou, P (2012) Tweets and the Streets: Social Media and Contemporary Activism
Digital activism and contemporary protest culture.

Ghonim, W (2012) Revolution 2.0.
Wael Ghonim is considered one of the most influential people in the 2011 Egyptian Revolutions. This is his personal account of the events. A fascinating and compelling read.

Howard, PM, Hussain, MM (2013) Democracy’s Fourth Wave? Digital Media and the Arab Spring
An examination of the role of the internet, mobiles and social media in the Arab Spring.

Lovink, G (2011) Networks Without a Cause
A probing critique of social media and network theory. Useful chapters and case studies on Facebook, Wikileaks, blogging and online video.

Mason, P (2012) Why It’s Kicking Off Everywhere: The New Global Revolutions
A discussion of the various ‘social media revolutions’ of 2011: from London to Egypt. An excellent account of the various uprisings around the world.

Tufekci, Z (2017) Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest
An examination of 21st century protests movements.

JOURNAL ARTICLES

General (social media)

Castells, M (2007) Communication, Power and Counter-power in the Network Society
An seminal paper by Castells on the emergence of mass self-communication, power and politics. The new public sphere.

Kaplan, AM (2010) Users of the World, Unite! The Challenges and Opportunities of Social Media
One of the most cited papers on social media, often quoted for it’s definition of social media. But is it still current?

Miller, D (2016) How the World Changed Social Media
Nine anthropologists each spent 15 months living in China, Brazil, Turkey, Chile, India, England, Italy and Trinidad. Fascinating study with accompanying MOOC.

Steinfield, C, Ellison NB, Lampe C (2008) Social capital, self-esteem, and the use of online social network sites: A longitudinal analysisAn investigation into the relationship between intensity of Facebook use, measures of psychological well-being, and bridging social capital.

Social Media and International Development

Ali, AH (2011) The Power of Social Media in Developing Nations
An excellent paper on social media and international development with a comprehensive introduction and some insightful case studies.

Bailard, CS (2012) A Field Experiment on the Internet’s Effect in an African Election: Savvier Citizens, Disaffected Voters, or Both
A study of the internet and social media’s influences on the Tanzanian political elections.

Best, ML, Meng, A (2015) Twitter democracy: policy versus identity politics in three emerging African democracies
760,000 tweets gathered during national elections in Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya to analyse policy relevant discussion.

Bidwell, NJ et al (2010) Please Call ME.N.U.4EVER: Callback and Social Media Sharing in Rural Africa

I admit to not having read this yet. But it looks too interesting not to include… I hope I’m right.

Breuer, A, Farooq, B (2012) Online Political Participation: Slacktivism or Efficiency Increased Activism? Evidence from the Brazilian Ficha Limpa Campaign
A study of social media and political campaigning. Does social media contribute to participatory democracy? A case study of the Brzailian anti-corruption campaign Ficha Limpa.

Briones, RL, Kuch, B, Liu BF, Jin, Y (2011) Keeping up with the digital age: How the American Red Cross uses social media to build relationships
How the Red Cross use social media to communicate with its various publics/stakeholders.

Chiumbi, S (2012) Exploring Mobile Phone Practices in Social Movements in South Africa – the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign
Mobile phone usage in South Africa to mobilize deprived communities

Comunello, F, Anzera, G (2012) Will the Revolution be Tweeted? A Conceptual Framework for Understanding the Social Media and the Arab Spring
To understand the Arab uprisings we need to consider the complex interactions between society, technology and political systems. There is no evidence that fully supports the techno-realist or digital evangelist perspectives.

Drumbl, MA (2012) Child Soldiers and Clicktivism: Justice, Myths and Prevention
A brief paper dispelling the myths of child soldiers portrayed by some NGOs, with a focus on Kony 2012.

Gamal, H (2010) Network Society: A Social Evolution Powered by Youth
Published in the Global Media Journal, Arabian Edition the year before the Arab Spring. A discussion on the digital divide and cyber-optimists. An important article in a literature review considering the author and its timing.

Gregory, S (2012) Kony 2012 Through a Prism of Video Advocacy Practices and Trends
A brief anaylsis of the Kony 2012 video: storytelling, video advocacy, activsm, spreadability and drillability

Guo, C, Saxton, GD (2012) Tweeting Social Change: How Social Media Are Changing Nonprofit Advocacy
This study analyses the social media use of 188 advocacy organisations. It proposes a three-stage pyramid model of social media-based advocacy.

Howard, PN, Agarwal, SD, Hussain, MM (2011) When do States Disconnect Their Digital Networks? Regime Responses to the Political Uses of Social Media
This study looks at 566 incidents where social media has been disabled. The author compares the dataset to understand why states take this drastic action.

Jefferess, D (2013) Humanitarian relations: Emotions and the limits of critique
A critical analysis of development marketing, social media and humanitarian fundraising in the context of the ‘Africa for Norway’ spoof video.

Jurgenson, N (2011) When Atoms Meets Bits: Social Media, the Mobile Web and Augmented Revolution
“Digital dualism” – I’ll let you decide.

Kamis, S, Gold, PB, Vaughn, K (2012) Beyond Egypt’s ‘Facebook Revolution’ and Syria’s ‘YouTube Uprising’: Comparing Political Contexts, Actors and Communication Strategies.
A study comparing and contrasting the role of cyberactivism in the Egyptian revolution and Syrian uprising.

Kaigwa, M (2016) From Cyber Café to Smartphone: Kenya’s Social Media Lens Zooms In on the Country and Out to the World
Exploring initiatives and movements influenced by conversation on Twitter in Kenya

Khondker, HH (2011) Role of the New Media in the Arab Spring
This article considers the role of globalization, the media, new media and connectivity.

Li, J, Rao, HR (2010) Twitter as a Rapid Response News Service: An exploration in the context of the 2008 China Earthquake
An analysis of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and Twitter as a new information channel.

Lee, Y, Hsieh, G (2013) Does Slacktivism Hurt Activism? The Effects of Moral Balancing and Consistency in Online Activism
An interesting look at the effects of online activism and the effects on monetary donations.

Lim, M (2013) Many Clicks But Little Sticks: Social Media Activism in Indonesia
A study of social media narratives in Indonesia and their potential impact as political activism.

Lovejoy, K and Saxton, GD (2012) Information, Community, and Action: How Nonprofit Organizations Use Social Media
This paper looks at 100 Nonprofit organizations in United States and how they utilize Twitter as a communications tool.

King, G, Pan, J, Roberts, M (2013) How censorship in China Allows Government Criticism but Silences Collective Expression
An analysis of social media content in China to measure levels of censorship.

Mandianou, M (2012) Humanitarian Campaigns in Social Media
How humanitarian campaigners have started to use social media to raise awareness and reach potential donors. The articles discusses polymedia events and the role of social networks.

Nemer, D, Freeman, G (2015) Empowering the Marginalized: Rethinking Selfies in the Slums of Brazil
This paper studies selfies to amplify the voice on the marginalized in Brazil.

Neumayer, C, Raffl, C (2008) Facebook for Global Protest: The Potential and Limits of Social Software for Grassroots Activism
Social media for grassroots activism in Columbia

Norris, P (2012) The Impact of Social Media on the Arab Uprisings: The Facebook, Twitter and YouTube Revolutions?
Social media and four functions for mass uprisings: informational, networking, cultural and behavioural.

Samin, N (2012) Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Social Media Moment
This paper contrasts the Egyptian experience with Saudi Arabia.

Seo, H, Kim, JY, Yang, S (2009) Global Activism and New Media: A study of Transnational NGOs’ online public relations
A survey of 75 transnational NGOs and how they use new media as a public relations tool.

Sheombar, A (2011) Social Media for International Development: Social Media Usage by Dutch Development and Aid Agencies
An MRes research project examining social media potential in the sector of Dutch Aid and development organisations.

Shirky, C (2011) The Political Power of Social Media: Technology, The Public Sphere, and Political Change
A discussion on the impact of social media in mobilizing mass political protests.

Smith, BG (2010) Socially Distributing Public Relations: Twitter, Haiti, and Interactivity in Social Media
This study explores social public relations through a qualitative analysis of user involvement on Twitter regarding relief efforts to support Haiti following the 7.0 earthquake that hit Port-Au-Prince in January, 2010

Tufekci, Z (2013) “Not this one”: Social Movements, the Attention Economy, and Microcelebrity Networked Activism
A study of networked microcelebrity activism and broadening participation.

Tufekci, Z, Wilson, C Social Media and the Decision to Participate in Political Protest: Observations from Tahrir Square
A survey of participants in the Tahrir protests to analyse how social media was used during the demonstrations.

Valenzuela, S, Arriagada, A, Scherman, A (2012) The Social Media Basis of Youth Protest Behaviour: The Case of Chile
An interesting exploration of social media’s contribution to the Chile Winter student protests.

Wall, M (2009) Africa on Youtube: Musicians, Tourists, Missionaries and Aid Workers
Videos representation of Ghana and Kenya on Youtube

Warren, C (2015) Explosive connections? Mass media, social media, and the geography of collective violence in African states
Evidence which demonstrates that social media penetration generates substantial increases in collective violence.

Wolsfeld, G, Segev, E, Sheafer, T (2013) Social Media and the Arab Spring: Politics Comes First
This study presents two broad theories: first that you cannot understand the role of social media in collective action without understanding the political environment and secondly that a significant increase in the use of social media is much more likely to follow a significant amount of protest activity than to precede it.

Yates, D, Paquette, S (2010) Emergency knowledge management and social media technologies: A case study of the 2010 Haitian eathquake

An analysis of social media and disaster and emergency management.

Youmans, WL & York, CY (2012) Social Media and the Activist Toolkit: User Agreements, Corporate Interests, and the Information Infrastructure of Modern Social Movements
An analysis role of social media in the Arab Spring uprisings using four case studies.

Zuckerman, E et al (2010) Blogs and Bullets: New Media on Contentious Politics
A critical analysis of “cyberutopians” and “cyberskeptics” perspectives on the impact of new media on political movements.

POLICY BRIEFS AND REPORTS

Ackland, R, Tanaka, K (2015) Development Impact of Social Media
A background paper prepared for the World Bank’s World Development Report 2016 Digital Dividends. The paper gives a good overview of social media for development with chapters on social learning, economic activity, emergency response and community voice.

Africa Practice (2014) The Social Media Landscape in Nigeria
Data on the personalities and platforms which are most influential in Nigeria in terms of content and quality.

Alder Consulting (2014) Social Media Nigeria Reports 2014
Five reports on the state of social media in Nigeria

Bohler-Muller, N and van der Merwe, C (2011) The potential of social media to influence socio-political change on the African Continent
A detailed account of the Arab Spring uprisings with some policy recommendations.

Camp, M (2016) Assessing the impact of social media on political communication and civic engagement in Uganda.
This paper was the result of the first annual Social Media Conference organised by the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) in conjunction with the Centre for Media Literacy and Community Development (CEMCOD) and the African Centre for Media Literacy (ACME) in July 2015.

Department for International Development (2016) Using Social Media Data in International Development Research, Monitoring and Evaluation in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
Report on World Food Programme Case Study.

Friedrich Ebert Foundation (2014) – Social Media in Cameroon
Powerpoint presentation with stats on the rise of social media in Cameroon

Gao, H and Barbier, G (2011) Harnessing the Crowdsourcing Power of Social Media for Disaster Relief

IBT (2015) Social Media – Getting Your Voice Heard
Advice for NGOs and how to use social media as a communications tool.

Jebril, N, Stetka, V, Loveless, M (2013) Media and Democratisation: What is Known about the Role of Mass Media in Transitions to Democracy
The potential role of mass media in transitions to democracy, with case studies from Central and Easterm Europe, Latin America and the Arab World.

Johnson, R et al (2012) Social Media Amongst Most-at-Risk Populations in Jamaica
I was totally intrigued by this study as it offered some important practical insights into how social media can be used to disseminate health information. I’ve written to the authors twice to find out if it was successful but have not received a reply.

Kaigwa, M (2014) Nendo Social Media Trend Report, Kenya
An excellent report on the state of social media in Kenya

Ndemo, B and Weiss, T (2017) Digital Kenya – An Entrepreneurial Revolution in the Making
Chapter by Mark Kaigwa – ‘From Cyber Café to Smartphone: Kenya’s Social Media Lens Zooms In on the Country and Out to the World

Nendo (2014) A-Z of Kenyan Twitter
Nice little report giving insights into Twitter in Kenya

Pedrick, C (2015) Embracing Web 2.0. and Social Media: A life changing pathway for agricultural development actors

Portland Communication (2014) How Africa Tweets
3 months of geo-located tweets from Africa

Taki, M, Coretti, L (2013) Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture: The Role of Social Media in Arab Uprisings – Past and Present
Six articles designed to answer :What are the cultural, technical and political variables that are conducive to using social media for mobilization? How have citizens and states used social media during the uprising and beyond? How do we research social media movements in the Arab world?

The Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) Embracing Web 2.0. and Social Media
18 case studies about how social media and Web 2.0. technologies have been used to support agricultural development. Case studies from Madagascar, Cameroon, Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, Rwanda, Burkina Faso and more.

USAID (2013) Social Media Handbook for Agricultural Development Practitioners
An excellent interactive PDF document for people interested in social media for agricultural development.

USAID (2016) Social Networking: A Guide to Strengthening Civil Society Through Social Media
An excellent guide for adopting social media as a tool for development. Areas covered include capacity building, engagement, transparency and advocacy.

WHO (2016) Global diffusion of eHealth
Chapter 7 has some fascinating data on the huge expansion of ICT and social media in health.

Zab, S (2013) Why Nairobi is the Next World Tech Capital
Nice presentation including stats on mobile, internet and social in Africa.

VIDEOS

9 movies about social media textbooks
Students in the University of Westminster’s MA in Social Media have as part of my module “Critical Theory of Social Media and the Internet” directed movies about books that present theoretical knowledge and empirical research about social media’s role in society.

The power of social media and democracy
Iceland President Ólafur Grímsson talks about how he was made to take political action due to social media campaigning in Iceland during the global financial crisis.

Arab Democracy and Social Media with Ethan Zuckerman
A discussion about free speech in the developing world

Behind the Great Firewall of China
TED talk by blogger Michael Anti

Citizen Journalism as Counter to Censorship and Culture Wars
Talk at MIT by Zeynep Tufekci on 140 Journos

How Young Africans Found a Voice on Twitter
TED talk by 22 year old Siyanda Mohutsiwa from Botswanatalking about when her hashtag #IfAfricaWasABar went viral.

Amnesty International – Social Media Case Study

An interview with Dunya Kamal, Global Communities Officer at Amnesty International about their use of social media to further their cause.

1. How has social media changed the way Amnesty International communicate?

We’re able to inspire people to take injustice personally, in a very direct and organic way. Being the largest human rights organisation in the world means we need to be sure that we are engaging in the conversations our audience talk about, and providing them with content that they care about, relate to, and want to get involved in. It’s massively changed the way we communicate! We’re now creating content specifically for social media e.g. videos for Facebook, and we’re understanding our audience so that we can remain relevant.

2. What is Amnesty International’s most successful campaign on social media?

When we launched our Ireland report and campaign back in June 2015, we were hoping to get an impact with some really powerful graphics our in-house designer created. We weren’t expecting to break our own personal best, with it having the biggest engagement on Facebook for a single post that any of our campaigns has ever achieved (record petition signups in the first week at 15,000, too!).

Amnesty

Its success was down to a few factors: the content itself was demanding Ireland change its abortion law. Good quality content is a must as per WebCitz; the timing was just after the Marriage Referendum success, so many of our users were commenting with the feeling that ‘if the #MarRef happened, it’s about time we got around to this too’.

We’ve also had success with a short-running campaign targeting Shell to clean up the Niger Delta, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The focus on this one, in contrast, was Twitter, hijacking Shell’s own hashtag ‘#makethefuture’ and asking our audience via the website and our tweets, to target Shell.

3. How do you measure the success of your social media channels? What metrics do you use?

Success isn’t a tangible thing – it really depends on what the objectives are. Clearly, if we’re growing across channels, and our engagement numbers are high, we’re on the right track. We use Sprinklr, a social media management tool and platform for a lot of our data capture on social. If part of a campaign is to overload a government official’s Twitter account with mentions, then what we’re focusing on is the pick-up of a specific hashtag or how many people tweet him/her, as opposed to the number of retweets our own tweets receive. Our Data and Insights Analyst is doing an amazing job, setting benchmark figures for our channels in general, projecting what our growth should be by a certain point, and looking at what type of content our audience engages with the most. Adapting our content so that we’re constantly listening to what our audience wants, is a great way to at least ensure you’re always on the right side of success.

4. How does social media help you connect with the media?

Social media is great for bringing breaking news to the people you want to see it – namely press on Twitter. Any time a crisis proliferates, the media team and myself jump on Twitter to get an idea of the content being shared, what the tone of voice, angle, attitude is on the issue. I like to keep an eye on trending hashtags to ensure we are inserting ourselves into the conversation appropriately, and we have a separate press Twitter account that focuses on sharing content most appropriate for journalists and media across the world. Like everything else, social media has made that line to media more direct and therefore much quicker, so not only can we disseminate information (especially breaking news) in effective ways, but we are also able to respond to and see what other news outlets are doing.

5. What is the most important ingredient in a social media strategy?

Understanding your audience. A well-written, coherent strategy is only as valuable as what it delivers. You need to be able to listen, on each platform, to what your audience wants, as well as what kind of content they are engaging with on their social channels (which may have nothing to do with Amnesty!).

6. How do Amnesty International use social media for human rights monitoring?

This predominantly occurs in Twitter, which is an extremely powerful tool for those wishing to document abuses or simply get their story heard. Once I spot something on social (using Topsy for example, sometimes our tool Sprinklr) that seems like it is gaining traction or exploring a human rights abuse, I send a note to the relevant researcher or campaigner to flag to them what I’ve been seeing online, but also to get an understanding from them on what they’re doing – most of the time they’re keeping a watch on the situation, are looking to verify sources, and sometimes there’s an upcoming report or briefing on the issue.

7. What concerns do you have about social media?

The only major concern we have is sharing information too early – sometimes we need to be sure we have verified what we’ve seen on social, which might delay our response or voice on the issue, but is crucial to ensure we don’t say anything that isn’t true. Information is provided to the researchers, who may then need to speak to our law and policy department, but the verification of information comes from a number of sources across the organisation and at this point it would be out of my hands, I’ll hear back if something has been checked and verified, but usually this stage is more focused on information gathering.