Collaborate, Create, Communicate

How your work gets richer with Social Media: the case of “Millions Fed”

Antonella‘s post on the experience of the CGIAR at COP 15 documented how social media helps your communication efforts.

Key message: if you want your work to reach wider audiences, to get enriched by their contributions and to be as visible as possible- You can’t go wrong with social media; something the ICT-KM Program has been actively promoting for a while now. And there’s a battery of tools out there that can help you get the job done. But you need to use them in a smart way….

In a recent interview with the ICT-KM Program, IFPRI’ s Luz Marina Alvaré, Head of Library and Knowledge Management and Chris Addison, Head of Web Communication,  shared their experiences with the communication and knowledge-sharing approaches they used to launch a new book funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF): Millions Fed: Proven Successes in Agriculture.

As LuzMarina puts it ” I think that the message is not about using social media for promoting, it is about getting a richer result at the end because the participatory and immediate input that it provides.  That is why it is being widely use in disasters and reporting traffic situations.”

Read on to see what they have to say…

ICT-KM: “IFPRI’s website, which helped promote the book, received a large number of visitors interested in finding out more about the publication. How do you account for the site’s traffic?”

Chris Addison: Analysis of the visitors to the website and online materials suggested that the majority of visitors came through direct links or Google searches for the phrase “Millions Fed.” Direct typing of Millions Fed web addresses or clicking in emails brought 6,524 visits—about one-quarter of the total number of visits.

ICT-KM: How did you use social media to promote the site?

Luz Marina Alvaré:A few Twitter posts about the Millions Fed project from the IFPRI accounts brought 163 visits, and “retweeting” by the One Foundation and BMGF increased the spread. However, since this project marked one of the first times we used Twitter, we weren’t expecting a large uptake. IFPRI’s Twitter account now has around 1,700 followers. We learned that a separate Twitter account created solely for the Millions Fed project did not bring as many followers as IFPRI’s main account.

ICT-KM: What was one of the most significant sources of visits?

Chris Addison: Putting the Millions Fed video on YouTube brought more visitors to the material on IFPRI’s website than any other form of media. The videos on YouTube were viewed over 2,000 times, and one-third of the people who viewed them subsequently visited IFPRI’s site via the YouTube link.

ICT-KM: Does the website still play a large role in attracting people to new material?

Chris Addison: From the analysis, we found that the IFPRI website is still important in bringing visitors to new material. Fifteen percent of visitors to the Millions Fed pages arrived via referrals from other parts of the website.

ICT-KM: Does content on the site’s homepage help in its promotion?

Chris Addison: Placement on the front page of the Institute’s website is perhaps not as important as we might think; only 230 of visitors who started at the front page of IFPRI’s site viewed the Millions Fed materials—despite their being extensively featured on this page. This demonstrates that 99 percent of people arrive at other landing pages on the site. We are observing that social media and Google presence are playing greater roles than they have in the past in attracting visitors than prominent placement on IFPRI’s homepage.

ICT-KM: Did you use any social networking sites to draw visitors to the site?

Luz Marina Alvaré: Facebook and LinkedIn brought similar numbers of visitors, but LinkedIn had more loyal visitors. This reflects the user groups for the two platforms. LinkedIn has focused on alumni of IFPRI whereas Facebook is open to the general public. Of the Facebook users, 83 were returning visitors compared with 47 who were new. Of the LinkedIn visitors, 107 were returning and only 2 were new.

ICT-KM: Do you have a breakdown of visitors by number and location?

Chris Addison: Visitors can be counted and discussed in absolute numbers or adjusted to reflect the percentage of the Internet population reached. Our usual way of quoting shows that visitors to the website are predominantly from the United States, India, and the United Kingdom. However, adjusting the figures based on the reach—that is, dividing the audience by the number of people connected in a particular country—gives a very different view. This method of quoting shows that the top ten countries with greatest reach to their potential audience are Ethiopia, Ghana, Rwanda, Uganda, Mali, Zambia, Cambodia, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and Nepal.

ICT-KM: Did you also analyze visitor connectivity and bandwidth?

Chris Addison:  One intriguing part of our analysis was to find the origin of dial-up connections to the website. Dial-up is still used but was logged as coming from only Germany, India, the United States, and Australia. Dial-up use accounted for less than 1 percent of users.

ICT-KM: What about mobile phone access to the site?

Luz Marina Alvaré: We were surprised that so few people saw Millions Fed materials on our website using their phone. iPhones made 28 visits (out of 24,000 total) during the time period analyzed, Android phones only two visits, Nokia phones one, and Blackberries none.

ICT-KM: How would you rate your success?

Luz Marina Alvaré: Were we successful? You tell us!  The Millions Fed project has been the most visited material featured on the IFPRI website this year. But not the most read publication. The total number of downloads of the book itself from the website is 1,407, with 106 of those from Google Books; the booklet was downloaded 724 times and viewed 143 times from Google Books . In contrast, more than 8,574 new visitors viewed the materials associated with the Millions Fed project.

Chris Addison: The Millions Fed trailers were our most visited videos on YouTube to date, but maybe 2,000 video viewers are, in fact, considered a small audience for material with broad appeal. Every product has a different use profile, and Millions Fed has a long interest life as a valuable reference. We will continue to monitor its use and compare the data with other campaigns we will be launching in 2010.

Thank you LuzMarina and Chris for sharing your experiences! And keep up the great work!!

To read more about this campaign, visit the IAALD blog stories “The Plan” and “The analysis.” Also read “The action” on the WebTastings blog.