Evidence Aid can be characterised as a knowledge translation project that uses a range of technologies, including social media, to improve the use of systematic reviews evidence before, during and after humanitarian emergencies. Evidence Aid has been using the Twitter platform to engage with partners and stakeholders since September 2011. There is little information available about the relative contribution of these digital media in supporting the Evidence Aid mission.
The aim of this project was to explore the use of Twitter by Evidence Aid though descriptive statistics of activity.
Multiple third-party web applications were used to explore how Evidence Aid interacts with its followers on the Twitter platform. Summary statistics were calculated and a number of visualisation techniques were used to illustrate the global distribution of followers, trends in interactions and implications for enhancing stakeholder engagement.
In the 28 moths since joining Twitter, Evidence Aid has gained a considerable following: 940 unique accounts globally with followers in 69 countries. Just under half (46%) of all followers are located in the USA (39%) and the UK (17%), with Canada (5%) and Australia (5%) joint third in rank. There was little correlation between the distribution of followers and the incidence of disasters in each country. Estimates of the use of Twitter in each country, and the significantly larger follower-base of a number of partner organisations, suggests that there is potential to improve overall reach. The large majority (87%) of @EvidenceAid tweets contain original content, however a very high proportion of tweets are subsequently retweeted by followers. Thematic analysis of the content of @EvidenceAid tweets highlighted the mission focus of 'public health' and 'humanitarian assistance'.
Twitter is a valuable medium for communicating with partners and stakeholders in advance of disasters and humanitarian emergencies and Evidence Aid recognises its value and continues to work towards making optimal use of social media.