DFID and Social Media SOCIAL MEDIA FOR DEVELOPMENT | Social Media for Development

Last week I was fortunate to visit the Department for International Development (DFID) to meet with Marisol Grandon, their Head of Digital to talk about how they use social media in their communications.

I asked Marisol a probing question: if she had to close down DFID’s social networks and was able to keep just one, which one would she keep. She was tied between Twitter and Facebook as they are the main channels for engagement. She also stressed the importance of Flickr. I confess that I had only looked briefly at their Flickr site, and once I looked again I could see why. The old adage says that a picture is worth a thousand words, and DFID’s Flickr site has over 2,000 photos. That’s a lot of words! I spent nearly 2 hours looking at the images and reading the captions. I could easily have spent a lot longer – time permitting. There is a mixture of imagery – stunning portraiture, documentary, reportage and landscape photography. They portray vividly the emotions of joy, hope, sadness; scenes of devastation and scenes of jubilation. Below are just a handful.

Photo credit: Department For International Development / International Development Research Centre /Thomas Omondi

Image: Department for International Development / Russell Watkins

Image: Department for International Development

Marisol and I talked a lot about photography. DFID employ six staff in their digital team, several with a degree or an interest in professional photography. I’m not sure if this is strategic or accidental, but their curation of powerful imagery from around the world has clearly benefited all of their social media channels. The strategy is working.

The Twitter channel has 116,000 followers and is growing rapidly. They often tweet up to to 10 times a day, sometimes more. Lovejoy and Saxton (2011) carried out a study on 100 non-profit organisation Twitter accounts in the US. Their paper Information, Community and Action: How Non-Profit Organizations Use Social Media categorized tweets into 3 main groupings in the belief that most tweets were to spread information, foster dialogue and build community, or mobilize supporters. The study concluded that nonprofit organizations have become more interactive in their use of Twitter, but the output is often information heavy. They suggested that organisations should be using Twitter to its full potential to build communities, mobilise action and engage with stakeholders.

I follow DFID on Twitter and generally feel very engaged. A variety of tweets are used: educational, informational, signposting, promotional and mobilising. They regularly retweet and promote content from other organisations, for example Plan UK’s powerful new video and an infographic from Concern Worldwide. Do I feel part of a community? Yes, I think so. I’m receiving information from DFID that I find interesting and informative and get a feel for the work being carried out in the field. I’ve only quickly “analysed” a few weeks tweets, but reading them I do feel engaged. I suppose my only observation is that I, as a stakeholder, could have been asked to contribute more. Not constantly surveyed, but asked my opinion through quick and easy methods such as a poll. As I say, my analysis was not in-depth, so it’s not a detailed critique.

DFID’s Facebook page has 42,000 likes, about a third of the number of Twitter followers, which is not surprising considering that the demographic of Facebook regular users is generally younger than on Twitter. The Facebook page is updated far less regularly than Twitter, which is normal. It is bright and colourful and once again utilises strong imagery and use of infographics. When I have previously managed Facebok sites with large followings it has always been images that connect with the user that have received the most likes. I’m slightly surprised that some of the images haven’t received more likes.

DFID’s Google+ page is rapidly gaining more followers. Without an analytics function, Marisol wasn’t able to shed much light on interactions with the page, but anecdotally said that engagement seems to be more informed, educated and critical. They have also recently launched an Intagram site which is important for engaging with younger audiences, especially those accessing the web via mobile.

I asked Marisol how she hopes to improve the social media channels in the future. She would like to see better use of graphic design. I strongly agree with this. As I said previously, imagery and infographics are highly shareable. A graphic designer could definitely add value to their growing bank of imagery. A lot of people underestimate the value of good design. She also mentioned that mobile content and video content are high on the agenda. Again I couldn’t agree more. It is fundamental that all digital output is in a responsive design format. I think this is even more important for stakeholders accessing content in the developing world than it is for stakeholders in the UK. Mobile web should be the top of the want list.

In my opinion DFID need to work on their YouTube channel the most going forward. Content is variable and has scope for improvement. 13 of their videos have 10,000+ views. Two videos have far more views than any other. India’s Slumdog Millions has 88,787 views and Love Sex and Survival has 76,569 views. Both were published four years ago. Love Sex and Survival has only 17 ‘votes’ – 11 positive and 6 negative. The next most popular video has 22,365 views. Why have the two most popular videos got so many more views? Yes, they have been on the channel two years more than the next most popular video, however there are plenty of others videos that have been on the channel for four years or more. Perhaps they were promoted with advertising? Both videos are well produced and tell compelling stories, but again, so do many of the other videos. Was the ‘India’s Slumdog Millions’ video timely, being released not long after the box office hit Slumdog Millionaire? The other video has ‘sex’ in the title. Surely people aren’t that shallow? Maybe they are, we know that sex sells. I would love to have the time to analyse the channel in more detail, looking at quantitative and qualitative data.

There are some other interesting videos that deserve more views. The lecture talk Digital Divides – The Potential of the Internet for Development is of great interest to me. Maybe there is some potential for leading scholars in the UK to present online lectures on the DFID channel about a myriad of development subjects. Or am I drifting in to MOOC or TED territory?

Videos don’t have to be costly to be successful. Content is King – and Queen of course. I produced a film called What is International Development for the School of International Development at UEA for minimal cost. It has had over 5,000 views. I wonder how many views it would have had if DFID had produced it. They have such an arsenal of tools which they can use to seed a video more effectively.

Marisol agrees that more strategic production of video is necessary. It all comes down to availability of budgets I suppose. Video can be both resource and budget intensive, but targeted right can reach a lot of people. DFID, along with many other government departments, are moving towards a strategy of digital first. The digital team have recently undergone a number of audits including the digital communication capability review. Change is imminent. I sincerely hope as a result DFID decide to prioritise and appropriately fund video in the near future.

I’m hugely impressed with DFID’s social media presence and I look forward to its continued success.

 

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Trump’s 2020 attack strategy: Smear Biden over mental fitness By Eric Bradner, Ryan Nobles and Dan Merica, CNN President Donald Trump and his allies have zeroed-in on an attack against Joe Biden, going after the presumptive Democratic governmental nominee’s mental physical fitness in a coordinated effort using smears and innuendo to paint him as ill-quipped to be President of the United States. Trump for months has questioned the mental skill of the opponent he calls “Drowsy Joe.” Trump last week described Biden as “a sleepy person in a basement of a home,” and he has actually repeatedly recommended that Biden did not personally write declarations issued by his project criticizing Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. His project and the Republican National Committee have progressively focused its attacks on Biden’s tendency for on-camera verbal stumbles in recent weeks, as it looks for to define Biden after he emerged triumphant from the Democratic primary. One example came previously this month, when Trump’s campaign launched an ad comparing Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, which closed with the line: “At least Bernie remembers his positions.” https://twitter.com/parscale/status/1247928262036258816 The attacks are an early demonstration of how Trump will utilize the full Republican politician Celebration apparatus to run a scorched-earth campaign based upon personal insults and unwarranted insinuations– a heightened variation of his playbook from 2016, when Trump and his allies, without proof, called into question Hillary Clinton’s health. They have actually become a daily occurrence from Trump’s campaign, assistants and Republican allies throughout every medium possible– on social media, in campaign e-mail blasts and videos and on Trump-aligned media companies like Fox News. Biden’s advisers and Democratic allies mention that Trump is guilty of many of the same verbal tics he is attacking Biden over, and often lies and embraces conspiracy theories. As one Biden ally put it: “Has Trump taken his own guidance and downed a gallon of bleach yet?” The attacks weaponize Biden’s propensity to stumble over words, utilize the wrong word or interrupt himself in the middle of long answers by stating, “anyhow,” and altering course. To fans of a former vice president who in December 2018 called himself a “gaffe maker,” those long-time spoken tics have always belonged to Biden’s public persona. They are made more forgivable to his advocates by Biden’s openness about conquering a stutter. Aside from periodic jousts amongst assistants on Twitter, Biden’s project has mostly neglected the Trump project’s attacks. Biden-world’s view is that the political and media landscape has actually shifted because 2016, when every Trump attack on a rival was treated as novel and took command of the project narrative on social media and cable news. His consultants pointed to Trump’s stopped working efforts to guide the political discussion in the 2017 Virginia governor’s race, when he and his GOP allies cautioned of the MS-13 gang, in addition to the 2018 midterms, when Trump’s message concentrated on caravans of refugees approaching the US-Mexico border. ” The misapprehension that whatever Trump wishes to speak about is inherently efficient and that he gets to act as the media’s at-large task editor has actually been closed,” a Biden consultant said. As Biden has adapted to marketing in the age of coronavirus– knocked off the campaign path and rather transmitting occasions and interviews from a transformed rec room in his basement in Delaware– Trump’s project is seizing on every on-camera miscue, with conservative Trump allies such as Fox News host Sean Hannity then magnifying them. ” His sharpness, or absence thereof is on screen every day, every time he talks,” Trump project spokesperson Tim Murtaugh informed CNN in response to concerns about the technique. “His failure to keep a train of thought going is obvious.” Biden frequently looks down at his notes, which Trump’s allies have actually mischaracterized as Biden dropping off to sleep. Trump’s boy Eric Trump tweeted a seven-second video from Biden’s online broadcast with Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, along with the hashtag “#SleepyJoe.”. https://twitter.com/EricTrump/status/1255213748811374596. Robby Mook, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign supervisor, said Trump “always projects his biggest weakens on his challenger in an attempt to deflect criticism from himself.”. ” What is very clear is the White Home thinks his presidency will be evaluated on how properly he is managing coronavirus, so it makes ideal sense that he is now attempting to accuse his challenger of incompetence, which is ridiculous.”. The attacks resemble how Trump’s campaign pursued Clinton in 2016, Mook noted. Trump and his campaign frequently cast the former secretary of state as sick or unhealthy, a technique that was further elevated after Clinton stumbled after a September 11 occasion in New York due to concealed pneumonia. ” I simply see a pattern regularly from 2016 all the way through now, which is, he attempts to predict his most significant issues onto his opponents so he gives the media a false equivalence to attempt to muddy the water,” Mook stated. “Part of the factor he was so obsessed with calling Hillary Clinton dishonest is because he is probably the most deceitful individual to win the White Home.”. Biden advisers argue that Trump’s efforts to caricature Biden won’t overcome the same qualities that insulated him in the Democratic primary: After 5 decades in the public eye and eight years as President Barack Obama’s No. 2, voters feel like they know him. Biden frequently expresses distaste for attacks on his rivals’ character. His aides say that by questioning Biden’s mental capability, the President is guiding the project toward concerns of character and fitness. ” This is asinine to tee up– since it’s 10,000 times even worse for him,” a Biden adviser stated. As an example of how easily Trump could be parodied, Biden’s assistants indicated a video from The Daily Show in which Fox News hosts and analysts’ comments about Biden’s mental skill were interspersed with videos of Trump’s own verbal flubs. Biden spokesman Andrew Bates tweeted The Daily Program’s video, which has been seen 3.6 million times on Twitter, on March 25, in action to Trump spokesperson Matt Wolking tweeting: “When is the last time Joe Biden was lucid?”. https://twitter.com/AndrewBatesNC/status/1242886701002960896. ” Triggering voters to assess prospects’ mental states is a devastating proposal for Donald Trump, so we’re never going to prevent him from going there,” Bates said. – CNNPolitics.

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