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#5 from 2017: The role of social media in development

Rosie Parkyn's picture
Our Top Ten blog posts by readership in 2017. This post was originally posted on May 1, 2017.
Why should development organisations care about social media? Rosie Parkyn looks at social media’s potential to enhance development outcomes in the Global South and how this stacks up against the evidence.  
At BBC Media Action, we take our content to people wherever they are, be that a refugee reception centre in Lebanona homestead in rural Ethiopia or their Facebook feed. Our work as a media organisation makes the biggest difference when we succeed in getting people talking, whether face-to-face or across virtual networks. Social media enables such discussion, broadening it beyond geographically defined communities and existing editorial agendas, and at a scale hitherto unimaginable.
As a development organisation that predominantly produces mass media outputs, social platforms allow us to see how people respond to our content and debate the issues we raise in our programmes. We can observe and interact with audiences in a way that isn’t possible with legacy media like newspapers and TV.
It’s true that many of our most important audiences in the Global South are yet to gain access to social media. Nonetheless, its role and influence within the information ecosystems we work in will only grow and its ability to support positive development outcomes demands exploration.

Five key findings on how people use social media in Qatar

CGCS's picture

A new study of internet users in Qatar has examined the usage of emerging social media networks. Damian Radcliffe explains more.

In December 2014 Qatar’s Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (ictQATAR) published some of the key findings from a new ground-breaking study into social media in the country.

Three discoveries in particular are of note for policy makers: 1) dramatic differences in usage by nationality; 2) the concerns of social media users; and 3) the plurality of ways in which these networks are used.

Many of these areas, such as drivers for usage, had seldom been publicly explored.

In addition to questions about older and resilient messaging applications, such as Blackberry Messenger (BBM), survey respondents were also asked about their use of emerging social channels. These applications, such as WhatsApp and Snapchat, had not previously been studied.

With fieldwork undertaken by Ipsos MENA, the Rassed team at ictQATAR,[1] the research is also remarkably current. One thousand adult internet users – fived hundred Qataris and five hundred non-Qataris – participated in fifteen-minute Computer Assisted Telephonic Interviews (CATI) between September 1 and October 16, 2014.