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#ObamainBrazil: A New Media Research Case StudyPosted by: admin on Wed, 2011-08-17 15:03
In a new white paper Dr. Ali Fisher, who directs InterMedia's networked communication research, and analyst David Montez test new digital media research methods to evaluate the US State Dept's online campaign in Brazil.
By Dr. Ali Fisher and David Montez
Social media is rapidly becoming an important means of gathering news and information around the world. Traditional foreign policy tools are increasingly complimented by newly innovated and adapted technologies that empower groups of individuals to achieve their own aims. Public diplomacy has the opportunity to engage in these new and innovative forms of communication.
In doing so there is the opportunity to leverage networks and technologies that connect individuals around the world – but to be effective public diplomats must adopt new research techniques in order to develop, implement and evaluate digital media campaigns. In this study, we use the opportunity of President Obama’s March 2011 trip to Brazil to evaluate the US State Department digital engagement campaign.
The purpose of this white paper, entitled "Evaluating Online Public Diplomacy using Digital Media Research Methods: A Case Study of #ObamainBrazil", is to share some of our preliminary findings from the study of online public diplomacy initiatives during the Brazil trip, and to highlight how these new research methods can be used to help strategize for and evaluate digital media campaigns.
The basic goals of the study included examining how various digital networks in Brazil spread news and commentary about Obama's visit; discovering the types of conversations that took place within these networks; and finding out what role the State Department outreach efforts might have played within these digital networks. Findings from the study will help public diplomacy strategists better understand the potential and constraints of short-term, event-based digital media campaigns. In addition, the findings highlight the types of pre-event research that needs to be conducted in support of campaign decision-making.
In brief, our research took a three pronged approach. The first prong involved the collection of social network data via the micro-blogging platform Twitter to identify so-called influentials within the Twittersphere, track conversations about the trip, and map the digital networks that were sharing information and commenting about the trip.
Example Network Map and Key Node Identification
The second prong utilized a set of link analysis methods to map relevant activity in the social media sphere before and after the trip, and the larger digital environment that the State Dept.’s web properties exist in. This allowed researchers to evaluate the structural impact the digital campaign may have had on the position of U.S. web properties.
Finally, InterMedia conducted content analysis focusing on identified influentials who commented directly about the President’s trip or US-Brazil relations during the time of the trip. This also allowed researchers to gauge the basic sentiment of organically created content and categorized what topics Brazilians themselves were most interested in during the trip. The paper finishes by providing key recommendations of how these new media research tools can be utilized by communication strategists to develop, implement and evaluate public diplomacy initiatives.
Dr. Ali Fisher a strategic communications consultant who directs InterMedia's networked communications research efforts in both online and offline environments. He is currently managing director of MappaMundi Consulting and a former director of Counterpoint, the cultural relations think-tank of the British Council.
David Montez leads the analysis team producing the Country Communication Profiles, Research Briefs, survey reports and is also in charge of general site operations.