Utilizing Social Media for International Development

(This post was originally published on Engaging Development)

As emerging information and communication technologies (ICTs) diffuse throughout the world, the transference of knowledge, ideas and
perspectives has become more seamless, instant and affordable. On the
same token, however, the ability to reach the right audiences amidst all
the noise is becoming more difficult.

ICTs have democratized publishing, allowing organizations, large and small, to sidestep traditional media outlets and step onto their own digital soapboxes and broadcast their perspectives, knowledge and news
in real-time. While empowering, the ease and affordability of
publishing have also increased the amount of available content
exponentially. Audiences are now inundated with volumes of information
and messaging of varied quality, which can lead to information
overload.

This presents challenges for content-rich organizations tasked not only to manage and organize knowledge, but also to disseminate it to the people who need and want it the most. It’s no longer effective to
merely push out press releases or shoot out newsletters and hope that
somebody is listening. To break through all the noise and be heard
nowadays, organizations need to be strategic, and balance traditional
communication approaches with emerging channels.


As communication professionals, you need to look beyond the usual suspects – including relevant listservs, email blasts to partners and in-country offices, and the occasional press release – to disseminate
your content and begin mining the Internet looking for communities and
people who will be interested in what you have to say and offer. After
you identify relevant communities, begin participating in the
conversations, engaging and sharing your content to bring real value – a
significant investment of time, but skills that are necessary to
navigate the murky waters of social media and the real-time Web.


I’m under no illusions of grandeur here and know that this is easier said than done, but the skills you learn today will become necessary in the digital world that is emerging. I started this blog as a guide to
share the lessons I learned (and am learning), as well as experiences —
successes and failures — from other organizations leveraging new media
and emerging technology that I come across.


If you have insight about how technology is or can be used in international development, or would like to share how you’re using social media, feel free to leave a comment.

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