Facebook And Twitter And Instragram, Oh My: The Effect Of Social Media On Humanitarian Organizations

Open Access
Boothe, Savannah Kay
Area of Honors:
Security and Risk Analysis
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Andrea H Tapia, Thesis Supervisor
  • Donald Richard Shemanski, Honors Advisor
  • security and risk analysis
  • information sciences and technology
  • social media
  • humanitarian organizations
Social media use has grown exponentially within my lifetime. One area in particular that has utilized its growth is humanitarian aid. I am interested in the effect social media can have on the awareness of small organizations with a humanitarian mission. In order to research the impact of social media as an information and communication technology for development, I will be traveling to Southeast Asia and volunteering in several local organizations. I will be asking four main questions to attempt and create a successful, overarching social media campaign for humanitarian organizations: 1. What are the overall functions social media can provide for the organization, and how can these functions be expanded to further the awareness and impact of humanitarian operations? 2. How successful is social media in accomplishing the mission of the local organizations? How could the organization use social media more effectively? 3. Who is the target audience of the social media and how is the audience affected by the social media presence? Are there any organizational connections, and how do these connections influence the use of social media? 4. What are the legal regulations surrounding the use of social media by an organization, and does this impact those the organization is trying to care for? To answer these questions, I will be using other similarly sized organizations with a higher emphasis on social media technology as a benchmark, looking at their use of social media for recruiting, funding, and awareness of the overall mission. I will be using academic articles published as part of the Information and Communications Technologies for Development manifesto to become aware of different ways organizations use social media and the most recent and effective ways to ensure that their missions are met with the support of social media. Aside from academic research, I will be working closely with small-scale humanitarian organizations in Southeast Asia to compare their use of social media to other similar organizations, measure the success of their social media use, and ultimately critique the current social media strategies in order to improve methods to utilize social media to its full potential.