How international organisations use social media, why the Rohingya don’t receive enough information and how Facebook wants to help with needs assessments.
Matthias Lüfkens just published the latest Twiplomacy study, an annual analysis showing how world leaders and international organisations are using social media. While a large part of the report focuses on whose audience is the biggest, there are also a number of really interest nuggets. For example, I would never have thought that both the Dutch and the Nepalese government spend 95% of their tweets responding to questions and comments from other Twitter users! I also liked this piece of analysis, which made me feel strangely vindicated: “Tweets with native videos perform best (…) and plain text updates perform worst (…). However, there is no right or wrong way to tweet. Among the five tweets with the biggest interactions we found a native video, a video link, a text link, a photo and a plain text tweet.” As with so many things, there are no absolute rules when it comes to social media.
The first step to addressing an issue is acknowledging that you have a problem. At least in this respect, the humanitarian sector is making progress when it comes to providing disaster-affected communities with essential information. A new Internews study conducted in Bangladesh found that “more than three quarters (77%) of the affected population feel that they do not have enough information to make good decisions, and almost two-thirds (62%) report that they are unable to communicate with aid providers. This, despite some notable efforts made by humanitarian agencies to create Information Hubs and feedback mechanisms to serve this purpose.” Now we have to do better.
After starting to share users’ location data with aid organizations in humanitarian crises earlier this year, Facebook has just announced to also share data about humanitarian needs. To do this, Facebook will make data from its community help feature available through an API (I’d be curious to hear whether that data is aggregated/anonymised). Together with geographical information, this can show aid organisations where people ask for which type of assistance. Disaster responders can use this data to increase their awareness of the situation. For example, a lot of requests for water or water purifying equipment in one location could indicate problems with the water supply, an unusually high number of requests for diesel might signal problems with electricity, etc. The American Red Cross and Nethope are the first partners for this new initiative.
Did you read something interesting this week? Please share your links below!