DFID Practice Note: Using Social Media Data in International Development Research, Monitoring & Evaluation

This note was prepared by NatCen Social Research for the Department for International Development

Abstract

The global adoption of social media has seen the user base expand to an unprecedented level. Estimates put social media membership at around 2.5 billion non unique users globally, with Facebook, Google+ and Twitter accounting for over half of these. Social media data can add value to international development research, monitoring and evaluation in several ways.

These data are‘transformative’ as they are user generated in real time and produced in large volumes in contrast to the necessarily retrospective snapshots of social trends provided by conventional means such as household surveys and administrative data. As such, they can provide insight into the behaviour and opinions of specific populations that are often unreachable by conventional methods where social media uptake is high.

The examples in this pratice note show cases where social media data were available in high volume in development contexts. However,it is important to note that for some situations and regions social media data may not be available in such volumes, precluding their use to gain near real time insights

4 case studies are included:

  1. Data-Pop Alliance: Big Data for Disaster Resilience
  2. Assessment Capacities Project - Nepal Earthquake
  3. Mapping Refugee Media Journeys
  4. Nigerian Election

Citation

Williams, M. L; Burnap, P; Sloan, L.; Jessop, C. DFID Practice Note: Using Social Media Data in International Development Research, Monitoring & Evaluation. NatCen, London (2016), 47p

DFID Practice Note: Using Social Media Data in International Development Research, Monitoring & Evaluation

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