Internews just published a report on social media use in Afghanistan. Most social media studies are written for people who want to market/sell products in high or mid-income countries, so I always enjoy reading something that looks at social media use from the perspective of civil society and in an unusual context.
The study looked at which social networks people use, what content they interact with and also includes some information on how organizations and individual social media users interact with each other.
As can be expected, only very few people in Afghanistan have access to online media, which once again shows clearly that social media can only be one of multiple channels when sharing information or collecting feedback:
“Access to and use of internet in Afghanistan has grown in the past decade to reach approximately 12% of the population. (…) Social media users represent approximately 9% of the Afghan population and are a homogenous group of primarily young, urban, and educated individuals. (…) Rural, older, and illiterate Afghans are left out of conversations happening online.”
87 % of those who have access, use only their smartphones for social media.
The report talks a lot about how men and women use and interact differently on social media. However, strangely, it does not contain information on what percentage of women vs what percentage of men have access to the internet and social media.
Facebook is by far the most popular platform (95% of social media users had a Facebook account) but messaging apps such as Viber are also very popular.
The study also found that government institutions and UN agencies use social media primarily to broadcast information with little or no interest in engaging in a dialogue. It seems like only local organizations look at social media as a channel to engage Afghans and to gather substantive feedback on the organization’s work.
You can download the study “Social Media in Afghanistan – Users and Engagement” here.
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Please share your thoughts and comments below!