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Global opinion leaders show increased use of social media for information on development

Zubedah Robinson's picture
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Social media is increasingly becoming a driver of conversation on several topics including global development. The World Bank’s Public Opinion Research Group conducts  Country Opinion Surveys in about 40 developing countries every year and found that the number of global opinion leaders using social media to get information on global development is steadily increasing.

The team analyzed data over a period of three years to find the sources of information for most thought leaders around the world, and to learn about their views on the World Bank Group’s social media channels and websites. Groups surveyed included: academia, research institutions, think tanks, bilateral and multilateral agencies, civil society and government institutions. They also included local governments, media, office of parliamentarians, office of presidents, ministers, and the private sector.
I used the interactive dashboard created by the research group to learn more about audience behavior and preferences when it comes to interacting with the World Bank Group’s social media channels. Based on three variables: time comparison between 2012 and 2016, region comparison - Africa and the Middle East and North Africa regions, and stakeholder comparison between civil society, government and the private sector, here is what I discovered:

More people are getting information on development from social media
It’s no secret that social media usage is growing each day. Research published by Smart Insights shows that as of January 2017, the number of people using the internet has grown to over 354 million. The study also shares that the number of active social media users has increased to over 482 million.
It's no wonder therefore that the number of people who have come to rely on social media as a major source of information (in this case, global development information), has also increased. For instance, the chart below takes a look at the growth (between 2012 – 2016) of the number of people who get information about development issues from social media from 5.3% in 2012 to 21.6% in 2016. It also shows the percentage increase of respondents in the country survey who said they would prefer to receive information from the World Bank Group, from social media from 9.4% in 2012 to 18.4% in 2016.

Preference in getting information about the World Bank, from social media grew from 9.4% in 2012 to 18.4% in 2016


How Africa and the MENA region use social media for information on development
The interactive tool also lets you compare data over five years in over 100 countries and six regions. To see how stakeholders responded when asked about World Bank social media channels, I compared results surveyed regionally between Africa and the Middle East and North Africa region. Using 2016 as an indicator, I discovered for instance that 15.9% of the respondents in Africa get information about development issues from World Bank’s social media. A look at the MENA region revealed that this number was slightly higher, at 17.9%. Also interesting was that in Africa, 16.9% prefer to receive information about development from World Bank social media channels. Compare that to MENA’s 27.7%.

In 2016, 17.9% of opinion leaders in MENA got information on development from social media


Civil society uses more social media for information on global development


The last comparison is between government, private sector and the civil society on use of social media for information on development. The Country Survey data shows that in 2016, at 25.4%, civil society was the group with the highest number of respondents who said that they use the World Bank Group’s social media channels to get information on development.

An interesting find from the survey was that the private sector had the highest number of respondents who preferred to receive information about the World Bank Group, from the organization’s social media channels.
Overall, it’s encouraging to see that there is a diverse group of users of the World Bank Group’s social media channels. If you want to find out more about what global opinion leaders in your region think about our information channels especially social media, take the interactive dashboard  for a spin or do a dive deep into the country opinion survey data and let us know about your experience in the comments section below. Make sure to also join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
 
Footnote:
Every three years it’s the same set of countries surveyed. The team surveyed the same set of countries in 2012 and 2015. Another set of countries are surveyed in both 2013 and 2016.

From 2012 to 2015 a full set of World Bank countries (112 countries) are surveyed.

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