Analysing Social Media Conversations to Understand Public Perceptions of Sanitation


The United Nations Millennium Campaign and the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council partnered to deliver a comprehensive advocacy and communication drive on sanitation. Their efforts were in support of the UN Deputy Secretary General’s Call to Action on Sanitation to increase the number of people with access to better sanitation. Global Pulse provided an analysis of social media in order to provide insight on the baseline of public engagement, and explore ways to monitor a new sanitation campaign. Using a custom keyword taxonomy, English language tweets from January 2011 to December 2013 were extracted, sorted into categories and analysed. The study showed that 33 percent of the relevant tweets focused on cholera. Excluding cholera-related conversations, tweets were mainly in the context of human rights, followed by health and policy and governance. The analysis also revealed increasing public engagement around gender and sanitation. By showing how the volume and content of public discourse around sanitation changed over time, the study provided a baseline that could be used to monitor the effectiveness and reach of a communications campaign in real-time using social media analytics.

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