Listening carefully: An argument for considering all the data
April 26 2018
“In an increasingly crowded conversation, issues of voice and power play out in subtle ways,” writes Kevin Bolduc, vice president of assessment and advisory services at the Center for Effective Philanthropy. Funders seeking to understand the impact of their investments need to make room to consider a range of experiences by “marshalling the resources needed to get beyond the loudest voices and listen[ing] in the more expansive and time-consuming ways” and “striving for representativeness rather than convenience in research and feedback surveys.”
Against metrics: How measuring performance by numbers backfires
April 24 2018
Jerry Z. Muller, professor and author of The Tyranny of Metrics, argues that our collective fixation with applying metrics to assess progress can “discourage initiative, innovation and risk-taking” by incentivizing people to “game the system” and sacrifice long-term goals for short-term ones that are more easily quantifiable. This is a challenge across all industries—not just in philanthropy.
Why philanthropy is interested in Facebook’s social data
April 13 2018
What does a new academic-industry partnership mean for funders and media makers seeking to assess impact? The Social Data Initiative, a partnership between Facebook, academics, and large foundations—including the Democracy Fund, the Hewlett Foundation, the Knight Foundation, and others—“promises to radically reshape the state of research on social media, civic engagement, and political participation.” The partnership is unprecedented: “Facebook provides the data, foundations provide the money, and a panel of academic experts shapes the research agenda and ensures the data won’t be abused and important findings won’t be silenced.”
Two months post-News Feed tweak: Real news is not drowning, comments are growing, and videos are still winning, NewsWhip says
March 29 2018
Social media analytics company NewsWhip takes a look at how publishers’ Facebook pages are holding up two months after Facebook made significant changes to its NewsFeed algorithm. Findings show that “compelling global events with a ‘very human element’”—such as the death of Stephen Hawking—still attract significant engagement; comments are actually increasing; and misinformation is still proliferating. For example, the 26th “most engaging” story since the algorithm change was a fake story about the flu shot.
How the Parkland students got so good at social media
March 7 2018
Even though some of the teenage leaders of the #NeverAgain movement in Parkland, Florida, had never used Twitter before a mass shooting thrust them into the national spotlight, they have been they have nevertheless been extremely effective at using the platform to spread their message, particularly through the use of quote tweets and memes that mock their critics and generate attention.
Will the next evaluation breakthrough come from online shopping?
February 26 2018
Qualitative data is difficult to analyze quickly and accurately. Recommendation engines like the one Netflix uses are designed using “collaborative filtering,” which also “has the potential to surface quicker, cheaper, better data about notoriously hard-to-measure social change” by empowering community members to rank data and then drawing insights from the collective, peer-ranked data.
“Anger and hope”: Why the Parkland survivors are winning the social-media war
February 20 2018
Why have the teenage survivors of the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, been so effective at focusing attention and demanding action on gun issues? In part, it’s because of their “innate understanding of the social-media ecosystem.” These students, digital natives who already use these social media platforms in their daily lives, are telling their own stories and disseminating messages instantly over social media. What’s more, they are not shying away from participating in public debates with policymakers.
Fake news and bots may be worrisome, but their political power is overblown
February 13 2018
Many people are concerned about the impact of bots and misinformation, which can “mislead and polarize citizens, undermine trust in the media, and distort the content of public debate.” However, Dartmouth Professor Brendan Nyhan points out that bots actually may not have that strong of an effect on changing people’s minds—in fact, research indicates that “most forms of political persuasion seem to have little effect at all.”
As emojis become further embedded in our lives, how can journalists find the stories inside?
January 24 2018
How can journalists and researchers better understand the impact of emojis? Data journalists have begun to examine emoji usage in limited ways, but journalism falls short of other industries in seriously considering wide scale emoji trends and implications: “While journalists certainly have invested heavily in data reporting amid resource restraints, no newsrooms have been regularly parsing what’s been called the fastest-growing type of communication in its two decades of existence.”
This new blockchain protocol wants to create accountability for social impact
January 5 2018
South Africa’s Ixo Foundation is developing a “proof of impact” protocol that enables a project to document markers of impact (such as when a tree is planted or a film is screened) and store them via blockchain. “This enables the claim of impact to be verified as legitimate and for funders thousands of miles away to see that their money has been well spent.” In addition, it creates “a new asset class, a cryptographic token that’s issued as the claim is authenticated,” which could inform how funders evaluate investments in the future.
MediaShift asked 10 impact experts to share their predictions for media metrics in 2018. From focusing on emotional responses, to prioritizing transparency over vanity metrics, to developing new models and organizations as existing ones learn that “platforms are not their friend,” these experts offer a range of ideas of what we’ll likely see unfold over the coming year.
The 3 types of news subscribers: Why they pay and how to convert them
December 7 2017
The second phase of the Media Insight Project, a collaboration between the American Press Institute and the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, probes how news organizations can learn from the emotional and behavioral motivations that lead people to subscribe to publications or not. It identifies three main types of news subscribers: the “civically committed,” “thrifty transactors” and “elusive engagers.”