What digital content did our audiences view, like and share in 2014?

18 December 2014

We took a look at how widely some of our digital content including research, opinions and multimedia was viewed, liked and shared over the past year, with the question 'what communications tools and channels work for which audiences' in mind. Here's what we found.

IDS digital content

A little more interaction

Perhaps unsurprisingly, some of our most popular content has been the most interactive. Free tools, like Storify which helps curate social media content, have certainly helped us bring our events to life, in a way that a simple news story on our website, accompanied by a photo (getting a good event photo is an art in itself) cannot. In the Storify we created for our Brighton Festival Fringe Event, What if Women Ruled the World, we were better able to capture the discussion both in and beyond the room – so for instance the buzz on Twitter. For those who couldn't attend, Storify helped us share photos, videos and podcasts of speakers, as well as the film that was screened at the event.

Speakers at the What if women ruled the world event

Know your audiences

Over the past year we have experienced considerable growth in the number of our Facebook followers from 54,304 to 126,576. Nearly half of our followers are between the ages of 18 and 34, with a fifth of them based in India and Pakistan, and more followers in India than the UK and USA combined. Content including suggested reading lists for students and details of how to apply for our courses has proved extremely popular with our Facebook community, and Facebook played a key role in the launch and promotion of our new scholarship fund this year.

What's in a name?

People are always interested to hear from some of the Institute's big names, like Robert Chambers whose publication Sustainable Rural Livelihoods: Practical Concepts for the 21st Century is by far and away the most downloaded publication in the IDS Open Docs e-repository. This year, his blog on Perverse Payment by Results: Frogs in a Pot and Straightjackets for Obstacle Courses on results-based aid received plenty of views, shares, likes, retweets and comments – including from DFID.

It's all about the timing

Ensuring that content corresponds with real-world events and debates is essential to achieving good engagement. And sometimes that means creating outputs or content quickly to respond to an immediate need. Not something that necessarily comes easily in an environment like IDS where research programmes mean that time-frames are drawn around months and years rather than minutes and days, but we've been working on it, and the results have been positively received.

Screenshot of Ebola Anthropology Platform

In response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa, our Open Knowledge and Digital Services Unit put together and launched the Ebola Response Anthropology Platform, a source of expert advice for policymakers and those working on the ground. We've also developed a Rapid Response Briefings series which provide analysis into emerging development issues. The most recent issue was published to coincide with DFID's launch of the new disability and development framework and the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and looked at how to include people with disabilities in emergency relief efforts.

Front cover of IDS Bulletin 45 - Undressing Patriarchy

Accessibility matters

And one final note on accessibility. One of the most downloaded items of IDS content this year was our IDS Bulletin entitled Undressing Patriarchy: Men and Structural Violence. All articles in this issue of the Bulletin were freely downloadable.This makes a big difference to the number of people both reading and sharing the research, which is why we're bringing production of our flagship journal back in house from 2016 and issues will be available to all for free.

We welcome your comments, shares and responses. Happy Holidays.

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