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Collective Online Platforms for Financial and Environmental Awareness: First International Workshop on the Internet for Financial Collective Awareness and Intelligence, IFIN 2016 and First International Workshop on Internet and Social Media for Environmental Monitoring, ISEM 2016, Florence, Italy, September 12, 2016, Revised Selected Papers

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This book contains the papers presented at the two CAPS (Collective Awareness Platforms for Sustainability and Social Innovation) workshops, namely the First International Workshop on the Internet for Financial Collective Awareness and Intelligence, IFIN 2016, and the First International Workshop on Internet and Social Media for Environmental Monitoring, ISEM 2016, held in Florence, Italy in September 2016. The two workshops were collocated with the third International Conference on Internet Science, INSCI 2016. The 8 papers presented have been carefully reviewed and selected from 13 submissions. The papers of the two workshops although targeting different goals aim at developing platforms promoting awareness on different but critical sustainability issues.
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Analysis of Public Interest in Environmental Health
Information: Fine Tuning Content for Dissemination via
Social Media
Hai-Ying Liu1, *, Irene Eleta2, Mike Kobernus1, Tom Cole-Hunter2
1 Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU), Instituttveien 18, 2027 Kjeller, Norway
{Hai-Ying.Liu, Mike.J.Kobernus}@nilu.no
2 Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL), ISGlobal,
Barcelona Biomedical Research Park, Dr. Aiguader 88, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
{Irene.Eleta, Tom.Cole.Hunter}@creal.cat
Abstract. This study conducts a social media analysis, defining a
communication strategy for environmental health information, examining how
social media outlets can focus information towards desired demographics.
Using a Facebook page about Citizens’ Observatories (COs), we reviewed
indicators for evaluating public interest in social media content, and evaluated
users’ engagement with our COs page. The result is a practical method to
promote and enhance the visibility of environmental health information. The
major method is to exploit visual material to increase user engagement. The
total sum of visits to the page was greatest when visual content was used. We
found that environmental health content appeals to adults between 35-44 years
of age, equally balanced between men and women. Our findings high-light the
importance of up-to-date informational content, the use of visual content and
the role of features for interaction and dialogue to ensure user engagement with
a Facebook page on environmental health.
Keywords: Citizens’ Observatories · Environmental health information ·
Public engagement · Social media · Scientific communication
1 Introduction
International environmental organizations, such as the United Nations Environment
Programme (UNEP)
1
, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
2
, the
European Environmental Agency (EEA)
3
, and Friends of the Earth, are developing
channels of scientific communication (e.g., News channels, various social media
accounts, YouTube channels, etc.)
4
between environmental experts and the public,
1
http://www.unep.org/NewsCentre/default.aspx?DocumentID=26827&ArticleID=35210
2
http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v5/n4/full/nclimate2528.html?WT.ec_id=NCLIMA
TE-201504
3
www.eea.europa.eu/publications/eea-general-brochure/download
4
http://phys.org/news/2015-08-social-media-emergency.html
exploring the use of social media platforms to foster public interest and promote
engagement with their projects. They aim to develop communication channels that
could help to empower communities and foster their active participation in
environmental governance. The purpose of these communication channels is to gen-
erate public interest in environmental information and promote engagement with
projects and organizations within the area of environmental health.
Social media is often used as an umbrella term for online platforms that enable
the creation and exchange of user-generated content [1]. There are many social media
platforms with different scopes and functionalities. Some are professional-oriented
networking sites, such as LinkedIn, or are platforms for microblogging (e.g., Twitter),
video sharing (e.g., YouTube), or knowledge sharing (e.g., Wikipedia) [2]. Today,
more than 1.5 billion people around the world use social media to socialize, network,
learn and share their interests [3], and this number of users is increasing [2]. The
popularity of social media platforms and their inherent social networking structure
enables the rapid diffusion of information [4]. Frequently, articles, videos or images
are shared between thousands of people
5
, generating information cascades known as
“going viral” [4]. Social media can facilitate participation in public debates, civic
engagement and organization of collective action [5].
A more generalist social networking site is Facebook. Currently, Facebook is the
most popular social media service in the world, with 1.49 billion monthly active users
as of June 30, 2015
6
. Companies and organizations are increasingly using Facebook
pages and/or groups to communicate with their customers, members and target-groups
[6]. This platform is already used for project dissemination, citizen recruitment and to
help foster engagement in many environmental projects, e.g., WeSenseIt [7],
CitCLOPS
7
, and Clean Air in London
8
.
This is the rationale of many programs using social media as online channels of
communication between experts, citizens, organizations and authorities. For example,
there are social media platforms for environmental professionals
9
,
10
,
11
, such as Duke
Environment
12
. In addition, lay people participate in environmental debates using
social media or may share photos in real time on a variety of environmental issues,
such as air pollution [8, 9], flood risk management [10] or forest fires [11].
Additionally, some organizations use social media to highlight their Corporate Social
Responsibility (CSR) efforts, a form of branding or marketing, which includes
environmental programs or campaigns [12, 13].
In recent years, there has been a boom in citizen science projects across the globe
[14]. These projects allow members of the public to play an active part in monitoring
5
https://www.networks.nhs.uk/nhs-networks/smart-
guides/documents/Using%20social%20media%20to%20engage-
%20listen%20and%20learn.pdf
6
http://newsroom.fb.com/company-info/
7
https://www.facebook.com/citclops/
8
http://cleanair.london
9
https://twitter.com/citisensemob
10
https://twitter.com/cobwebfp7?lang=en
11
https://www.facebook.com/WeSenseItProject
12
https://nicholas.duke.edu/programs/execed/courses/social-media-environmental-
communications
and recording their environment. At the same time, Citizens’ Observatories (COs) are
an emerging approach for public participation in environmental monitoring, aimed at
better observing, understanding, protecting and enhancing our environment [15]. COs
appeared recently in the EU R&I (Research and Innovation) agenda, and involve the
development of community-based environmental monitoring and information systems
using innovative and novel Earth Observation (EO) applications in support of GEOSS
(Global Earth Observation System of Systems). Five EU FP7-relevant projects (CITI-
SENSE
13
, COBWEB
14
, CitCLOPS
15
, Omniscientis
16
, and WeSenseIt
17
and one
EMMIA project (Citi-Sense-MOB)
18
are currently developing novel technologies and
applications in the domain of EO with the use of portable devices and enabling
effective participation of citizens in environmental stewardship by actively involving
them in community and policy priorities [15].
As part of the CITI-SENSE project, we created a COs Facebook page aimed at
fostering communication between the COs-related project partners, stakeholders and
users, to facilitate citizens’ engagement, participation and network building, to
disseminate information, and to improve participating projects’ visibility.
In this paper, we proposed the use of social media analysis to inform the design
of communication strategies in social media for citizens’ engagement and
participation in environ-mental health projects. The objectives of this study were to:
(1) review existing indicators of public interest in social media content; (2) evaluate
public interest in our pilot COs Face-book page and engagement with its content; and
(3) provide recommendations for a social media communication strategy that is
consistent with our aim.
In the following sections, we first provide a brief review of indicators of public
interest in social media content, and then identify indicators and content that are
related to the level of public engagement and empowerment in social media content,
followed by a detailed description of our COs Facebook page. Furthermore, we
present the metric analysis and results of public interest in environmental health
information posted on our COs page. Finally, we discuss our results in the context of
related literature and provide recommendations for increasing citizen engagement in
environmental health projects.
2 Methods
13
https://www.citi-sense.eu
14
https://cobwebproject.eu/
15
https://www.citclops.eu
16
http://www.omniscientis.eu
17
https://www.wesenseit.eu
18
http://cwi.unik.no/wiki/CSM:Home
2.1 Indicators of Public Interest in Social Media Content
Due to the rapid changes in the social media arena, our aim is not to present a list of
current products since this would be soon outdated. Instead, we provide some
examples of social media analysis tools to explain the information that can be
obtained from them. Social media tools provide various indicators of engagement
with social media content. Content can be textual posts, images, videos, files, and
links to other websites/pages. The common indicators of public interest in social
media content are: (i) page likes (number of people clicking ‘like’ for a page)
19
; (ii)
post reach (number of people who viewed a post)
20
,
21
; (iii) post likes or favorites
(number of people clicking ‘like’ or ‘favorite’ for a post; (iv) post follows (showing
interest to receive updates for a particular post); (v) comments or replies (people leave
comments for the post or reply other’s comments for the post); (vi) sharing a post or
retweeting (sharing or re-posting the post with others).
2.2 Indicators of Public Engagement with Social Media Content
In addition to the indicators of public interest in social media content, social media
analysis tools often provide a specified composed indicator, labelled “engagement,”
which typically includes post clicks, likes or favorites, comments or replies, and
sharing instances. Some popular social media platforms, like Facebook, LinkedIn and
Twitter, incorporate such indicators into their analysis tools. In addition, there are
companies (e.g., Hootsuite
22
, Buffer
23
, SumALL
24
, etc.) oriented to marketing, brand-
ing and campaign management that offer analysis of an organization’s profile across
many social media platforms (e.g., Social Media Today
25
). Depending on the personal
data collected by a social media platform, there is also demographic information
available on the visitors of social media pages as well.
2.3 Identifying and Sharing Content to Engage and Empower an Audience via
Social Media
Citizens’ engagement in environmental governance can take many forms. For that
reason, engagement is often distinguished between high-level and low-level
engagement of citizens. High-level involvement implies that citizens participate in
environmental monitoring activities, contribute environmental data and help co-
design project components. Low-level involvement implies that citizens consume
information, for example, from social media platforms. Low-level involvement may
19
https://www.facebook.com/help/285625061456389
20
https://www.linkedin.com/help/linkedin/answer/26032?lang=en
21
https://support.twitter.com/articles/20171990#
22
https://hootsuite.com/
23
https://buffer.com/
24
https://sumall.com/
25
http://www.socialmediatoday.com/marketing/2015-03-10/9-best-free-social-media-
analytics-tools
be viewed as a prerequisite for enabling higher-level involvement, which demands
good quality and inspiring content to trigger higher-level citizen participation.
For COs Facebook page (see next section), first, we shared relevant
environmental health information with users in the hope of raising awareness (low-
level engagement), which would later lead to higher-level engagement and then
consequently, empowerment. In principle, better-informed citizens are empowered in
the sense that they have the knowledge to take responsible actions locally. However,
higher-level involvement, where citizens participate by contributing data and
experiences, is essential for true empowerment. Empowered communities are those
that participate in governance and the decision-making processes about issues that
matter to them.
2.4 The Pilot Test: a Facebook Page for Citizens’ Observatories
We started a pilot experiment creating a community profile for COs on Facebook.
The COs Facebook page
26
was created as a non-partisan outlet for promoting any
COs-related activity, whether initiated by COs projects
27
, citizens, governmental
bodies or related industry stakeholders. It is open to Small-to-Medium Enterprises
(SMEs) that may want to promote new technologies, as well as pro-jects or other
initiatives that have COs-related component. The COs page constitutes a focal point
for the promotion of COs worldwide and citizens are expected to contribute
information, opinions, and to help build a community for influencing environmental
decision-making.
We created the COs Facebook page on the 6 September 2013. Currently, it does
not carry official branding for any particular project. Instead, we encourage mutual
support for any CO related activity or project. In addition, the COs page serves as a
dissemination tool for local COs-related initiatives that want to reach a wider
audience. We update the COs page content regularly (i.e., minimum once or twice a
week) and consider a SMART (Specific-Measurable-Attainable-Realistic-Time-
Relevant-Time-bound) strategy (i-SCOOP, 2015) when uploading content.
2.5 The Insights Tool
Facebook’s Insights tool serves to evaluate the effectiveness and reach of information
campaigns and to identify the type of posts and the post content that attracts more
Facebook users. The analytical report produced by the Insights tool provides
information on the total number of page visits, page likes (subscribers of the page),
and posts’ reach and engagement. There are different types of reach for Facebook
posts: organic, viral and paid (e.g., Social Media Examiner
28
). The organic reach
refers to the number of unique users who saw a post in their news-feed, or directly on
the Facebook page. Viral reach counts all the people who saw a story about a page in
their news-feed due to one or more of their friends liking, commenting or sharing the
26
https://www.facebook.com/int.cit.obs
27
http://citizen-obs.eu
28
http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/facebook-reach-guide/
post on a page. Paid reach refers to the number of unique users who saw the post
through an advertisement.
Additionally, the Insights tool provides demographic information of the users
that engaged with the page or were reached by a page post. For example, there is data
available on gen-der, age group, country, city, language, and time of the day when
they connected to the Facebook page. In the Insights tool, data is presented in graphs
and can be exported to Excel files
29
.
2.6 Classification of Posted Content
With the objective of identifying which characteristics of the environmental content
triggers more engagement and attention, we looked at the reach and engagement
indicators pro-vided by the Insights tool separately by type of media and topic (e.g.,
Air Pollution, Citizens’ Observatories and Citizen Science). Based on contextual
information, we also considered whether the posts refer to an event that has received
attention from other media outlets.
First, we used the classification of posts in media types provided by the Insights
tool: note (text only), photo with text, video with text, and link with text. Secondly,
we selected the 10 posts with the highest reach and the 10 posts with the highest
engagement values during the period 6 September 2013 to 19 October 2015 (from the
day the COs page was created to the day COs page was analyzed). In total, we
selected 15 posts. Five of them have high values both for post engagement and reach
level. In Table 1, we synthesize the information about these 15 successful posts in six
categories, namely: reach level, engagement level, post’s type of media, content, topic
of the content, and context.
29
https://blog.kissmetrics.com/guide-to-facebook-insights/
Table 1. Classification of the top ten posts with highest reach level, and top ten posts with highest engagement level for type of med ia,
content, topics of the content, and context (5 posts that appear in the top ten fit into both criteria, so they overlap)
Post
No.
Total
reach
Clicks
Likes,
comments
& shares
Type
of
media
Topic
Context
1
364
23
10
Link
with
text
Link with text on
‘mapping every city’s
most scenic routes,
one photo at a time’
ICT
Citizen science
Smart city
A web portal named CityLab
(http://www.citylab.com), which is dedicated
to the people who are creating the cities of
the future, and those who want to live there.
Through sharp analysis, original reporting,
and visual storytelling, focuses on the biggest
ideas and most pressing issues facing the
world's metro areas and neighborhoods.
2
319
144
50
Video
with
text
Citizens observatories
Urban air pollution
Environmental awareness
NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation)
news
3
309
16
8
Link
with
text
Urban air pollution
Environmental awareness
Quality of life
This link takes users to a news shared in a
well-known British national daily newspaper,
The Guardian (http://www.theguardian.com),
on the same day it was posted on the CO
page.
4
256
15
9
Link
with
text
ICT
Citizen science
Citizens observatories
Urban air pollution
A well-known British national daily
newspaper, The Guardian
(http://www.theguardian.com).
5
232
23
10
Link
with
Citizen science
Citizens observatories
A well-known British national daily
newspaper, The Guardian
text
Urban air pollution
Environmental awareness
(http://www.theguardian.com).
6
188
19
11
Link
with
text
ICT
Citizen science
Citizens observatories
Urban air pollution
Crowdsourcing
A well-known online magazine named
Smithsonian magazine which looking at the
topics and subject matters researched, studied
and exhibited
(http://www.smithsonianmag.com).
7
180
11
7
Note
with
link
Citizen science
Citizens observatories
Urban air pollution
Environmental awareness
A well-known EU project with its public air
quality perception survey link (co.citi-
sense.eu).
8
177
2
3
Note
with
link
Citizen science
Citizens observatories
Air pollution
Environmental health
Quality of life
A slogan about European mobility week in
year 2013 with a web link
(http://www.aeidl.eu/en/news/latest-
news/1024-european-mobility-week.html).
9
160
26
9
Video
with
text
Citizen science
Citizens observatories
Air pollution
Water pollution
Flooding
Biodiversity
Odor monitoring
Environmental health
Quality of life
A YouTube video.
10
158
4
1
Link
with
text
Citizen science
Citizens observatories
Urban air pollution
ICT
Environmental health
A blog published on a well-known online
blog about Global Health that is published on
the Barcelona Institute for Global Health web
page (http://www.isglobal.org).
Quality of life
11
89
33
3
Video
with
text
Citizen science
Urban air pollution
A global project blog
(http://blog.safecast.org) which is working to
empower people with data, primarily by
mapping radiation levels and building a
sensor network, enabling people to both
contribute and freely use the data collected.
12
124
31
2
Video
with
text
Citizen science
Citizens observatories
Urban air pollution
YouTube video
(http://youtube.com/watch?v=lEv0Nw-eeVk).
13
76
24
4
Video
with
text
ICT
Citizen science
Citizens observatories
Air pollution
YouTube vide made by iSPEX project
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_DO-
5e4Y2w).
14
53
22
4
Video
with
text
ICT
Citizen science
Citizens observatories
Urban air pollution
YouTube video made by OpenIoT project
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKSEzq
VgBXY).
15
117
23
2
Link
with
text
ICT
Citizen science
Citizen observatories
Urban air pollution
NRK news.
3 Results
By October 2015, the COs Facebook page had been running for two years, with the
total number of page likes reaching 274 (Figure 1). Page likes grew gradually, and
several COs-related SMEs (e.g., 1000001 Labs
30
) and projects (e.g., Citi-Sense-MOB)
have started to use it for advertising and promoting their own environmental
activities. Figure 2 shows the Insights tool overview of the COs page for a recent one-
week period (From 13 October 2015 to 19 October 2015). This overview includes
information on total page likes until 19 October 2015 (274, 0.7% increase in this re-
cent week comparing from last week), new page likes within this week (2 new page
likes, 66.7% decrease from last week), total post reach until 19 October 2015 (139,
4.8% decrease from last week), post reach within this week (119, 8.2% increase from
last week), engagement within this week (12 users engaged, 33.3% decrease from the
last week), and the five most recent posts with media type, reach level, engagement
level and post name with published time.
Fig. 1. Screenshot of the COs’ Facebook page
30
https://www.facebook.com/1000001labs
Fig. 2. Overview of the COs’ Facebook page Insights tool for a recent one-week period
3.1 Demographics
Figure 3 shows the people who liked the COs Facebook page up to the day of
analysis, the number of people the COs page posts served in the past 28 days, the
people who have liked, commented on, or shared COs page posts or engaged with
COs page in the past 28 days, by gender, age, country, city and language. In
particular, COs Facebook page attracts relatively older age groups (i.e., 35-44 years)
than the most frequent age group of Facebook users (i.e., 18-29 years) (Pew Research
Center, 2014). While a relatively higher percentage of women are reached by COs
page and a relatively higher percentage of men are engaged.
In addition, the countries and cities of the COs page followers coincide with
countries and cities that are currently involved in COs-related activities (e.g.,
Barcelona in Spain, Oslo in Norway, Milan in Italy, etc.). For example, 47 of our
followers come from Norway, where there are two COs-related EU-funded projects,
CITI-SENSE and Citi-Sense-MOB; 46 of our followers come from Spain, where COs
are being implemented within several citizen science and COs-related projects (e.g.,
CITI-SENSE, CitCLOPS, iSPEX
31
, etc.); 22 come from Italy where there is one COs-
related EU founded project WeSenseIt.
Fig. 3. Screenshot of the age, gender and geographical demographics of people who liked,
reached and engaged the COs’ Facebook page, respectively
31
http://ispex-eu.org/
3.2 When Are the COs Facebook Page Followers Online?
The Facebook Insights tool provides a weekly page update. We have checked all the
weekly page updates and found that the COs page followers are online at predictable
times as they follow a pattern. Figure 4 presents information about when (i.e., days
and times) the COs page followers are online for a recent one-week period from 11
October 2015 to 17 October 2015. The time zone used for this is Central European
Time (CET). We can see that there is not much variation among days (i.e., from
Monday to Sunday), and on average about 90% of followers are online every day.
Most COs followers are online from 9 am to 23 pm, with the least popular times for
being online being between 23 pm to 9 am, with a slump in followers’ online
presence between 21 pm to 9 am.
Fig.4. Screenshot of when the COs’ Facebook page followers are online
3.3 Interaction with Mass Media Outlets and Search Engines
The data points to a sudden increase in the total reach and engagement level after
uploading relevant news from a TV broadcast on the COs page. There was a peak in
the number of people (i.e., 319, 357% higher than the average post reach level) who
read the post (total people reached by this post), 144 post clicks, 50 liked, commented
and shared the posts (See Post No. 2 in Table 1, and Figure 5). It occurred around the
10 February 2014, which was the date that the Norwegian public broadcast company
(NRK) ran a news-story about the case study for the Oslo COs under both CITI-
SENSE [15,16] and Citi-Sense-MOB projects [15,17]. From Figure 5, we can see that
there is a large gap for both total reach and engagement level before and after we
uploaded the NRK news. For example, be-fore the NRK news, on the 7 February
2014, we shared information about a citizen science project with a web link
32
and
32
https://envirocar.org
included the message: “be a citizen scientist for helping make mobility sustainable
and our cities a little smarter”. This post reached 62 people but only one engaged.
Three days later, on the 10 February 2014, the NRK broadcast a news story about
CITI-SENSE COs in Oslo, and we posted the NRK news on the COs Facebook page.
This post reached 319 people, and 194 engaged. Later, on the 13 February 2014, we
announced that our COs Facebook page had been promoted at an IoT-forum web site
and included the web link
33
. This post only reached 52 people, and two were engaged
(Figure 5).
Fig.5. Screenshot of the post reach and post engagement level of the COs’ Facebook page
during a predefined period
Figure 6 presents the number of times each of the COs page tabs (e.g., notes tab,
info tab, events tabs and others) were viewed, and number of times people came to the
page from another website (e.g., Google search engine, and other COs-related projects
web pages) in the pre-defined time-period (i.e., from 3 February 2014 to 17 February
2014). For example, from Google search engine, the most common search terms that
directed people to the COs Facebook page are “CITI-SENSE Citizens'
Observatories”, “citizens' observatories”, and the combination of “citizen science”
and “Citizens' Observatories”.
33
http://iotforum.org
Fig.6. Screenshot of the page and tab visits and external referrers of the COs’ Facebook page
3.4 Media Types and Their Reach and Engagement Levels
To determine which type of media in a post is most popular for the users, we exported
all 194 posts during the period from the 6 September 2013, to the 19 October 2015,
including their type and reach and engagement level. Then, we calculated average
post reach and engagement level for each media type (i.e., video with text, link with
text, note, and photo with text) (Table 2). The results indicate that video with te xt
have the highest average number of post reach and engagement, followed by photo
with text, link with text, and note (See Table 2).
Table 2. Type of media, and the average post reach and engagement levels during the period 9
June 2013 to 19 October 2015
Post type of media
Post reach
Post clicks
Likes, comments and shares
Video with text
95
24
4
Photo with text
69
14
5
Link with text
65
5
2
Note (text only)
50
5
1
3.5 Most Popular Posts and Their Topics
There is an interaction effect between the post topics and the type of post that
influence post popularity. That is, we are considering two factors that influence
popularity, but we cannot isolate their separate effects. From Table 1, we can see that
the most popular posts (both high reach and engagement levels) are those posts
uploaded either as video with text from a TV broadcast (e.g., NRK), or as link with
text from a famous online newspaper (e.g., The Guardian) with topics related to
citizen science, Citizens’ Observatories, air pollution, traffic-related air pollution.
Nevertheless, within a total of 194 posts, the most popular topics (both high reach and
engagement levels, See Table 1 on post Nos. 1, 2, 5, 6, 9) are Citizens’ Observatories
in the field of air pollution; citizen science for environmental awareness raising,
especially for tackling air pollution issues; and ICT (Information and Communication
Technologies) with smartphone and low-cost air monitor for mapping cities’ air
quality.
4 Discussion
The COs Facebook page is becoming a popular and intuitive platform for COs-related
pro-jects’ dissemination, citizens' recruitment and citizens' empowerment. Moreover,
as popularity grows people start to use the COs page as a resource for promoting their
project or business. For example, SME 1000001 Labs uses the COs page to advertise
that it is specialized in decision support, recommendation, personalization and IoT
applied to the marine-environment and healthcare. Until 19 October 2015, the total
page likes reached 274, and we anticipate a wider audience will start to rely on it for
learning about what a citizens’ observatory is, and what it can do for them. It should
be mentioned that all 274 page likes are from organic reach, rather than paid reach
through an advertisement. For the COs page, paid reach may help to increase the
audience, who may help spread the message of the COs page. However, this paid
reach may not really attract an audience interested in the COs page content per se.
Based upon this consideration, the paid reach is irrelevant. This means attention must
be directed at understanding what kind of content increases organic reach. Advice for
increasing the organic and viral reach of Facebook Page posts typically point to the
importance of varying the content and including visual and media-rich elements,
creating shareable quote posts, and providing specific calls to action. Such
recommendations point to how providing interesting content and engaging users are
interlinked: content is a means to spark interest in citizens’ participation.
Regarding the results of the COs Facebook page that indicated most Facebook
users are on Facebook during the day, but before midnight (i.e., from 9 am to 23 pm),
particularly be-tween 13-15 pm and 19-22 pm, which are the most popular time for
COs page, we suggest that social media (such as Facebook) page updates should be
made during this particular time-period when the majority of page-followers are
online and active. However, during these hours, it is expected that there is also more
competition from other pages for reaching people, and it is hence worth
experimenting with different scheduling approaches, for ex-ample, by using programs
(e.g., Hootsuite, Buffer and SumALL) which allow users to schedule the posting of
content to see what works more efficiently (e.g., scheduling the same posts at
different times of the same day), and to explore which times increase the reach of
posts and investing effort into finding interesting (relevant) content.
The observation that the COs Facebook page attracts a relatively older age group
(e.g., 35-45 years) than the general Facebook user demographic may be linked to the
topics of the content of COs that we have promoted, which may be of more interest to
professionals and/or parents, rather than, for example, students. If relatively younger
age groups and/or elderly are to be targeted, posts should be tailored to fit their
content-preferences, in terms of both topic and the posts type of media. This requires
further investigation.
Country and demographic information of the COs’ page users may provide a lot
of information about the success of the various COs’ activities in specific
countries/cities, targeting different gender and age groups. However, to be able to
evaluate this, there needs to be SMART-targets
34
based on this kind of information,
e.g., a target on the total number of followers, a target on involving followers from
different age groups, cities and countries, and so on.
From approximately two years of managing the COs Facebook page, we have
observed that page posts with visual or video content tend to generate more
engagement than textual posts. We also observed that posts on specific topics, such as
air pollution related COs or citizen science programs and activities, tend to reach
more followers than COs in a broad sense. For this reason, we recommend to include
a visual or graphical element in the posts, and post more on specific topics than broad
concepts.
Facebook’s Insights tool can help social media managers make sense of social
media data and determine the best type of content to drive attention to their page and
target specific demographics. However, the Insights tool has its drawbacks. For
example, it provides weekly post updates, but does not provide a record of the total
number of posts and only displays a limited number of posts with engagement
information in a comparison table. These data are not available in tabular form to
export to a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, but can be calculated manually by the
Facebook page manager. It does not detect the popular post topics and sentiment
analysis of post (both positive and negative comments) (Stieglitz & Dang-Xuan,
2013). Therefore, further development is needed to overcome its drawbacks and bet-
ter facilitate the post analysis (comparison) by providing a tabular form of record of
the total number of posts with engagement information. Furthermore, the increasing
sophistication of social media analysis, like detecting influential users on social
networks or tracking the posts of specific users (Stieglitz & Dang-Xuan, 2013), calls
for the inclusion of ethical protocols to protect users’ privacy when designing the
methods for analysis. For example, the analysis tools of Facebook, Twitter and
LinkedIn provide aggregated results and it is not possible to single-out any individual.
One positive aspect of our current communication strategy through the COs
Facebook page is that we gather attention to COs-related projects across national
borders. On the other hand, previous studies have shown the importance of adapting
environmental information to small geographic areas, tailored for locals, to foster
34
http://www.i-scoop.eu/smart-social-media-listening-monitoring-s-m-r-t/
citizens’ engagement [18]. This tension between local and internationally oriented
information re-quires a lot of research in itself.
The COs Facebook page represents a step forward with respect to the usual social
media communication strategies of public health departments. Among those that have
innovated by using social media to disseminate information to the public, many have
not yet leveraged the interactive features that could engage a wider audience and
increase the reach of their messages [19].
5 Conclusions
We created the COs Facebook page to engage with citizens, to facilitate networking
with peers, promote the concept of COs, and disseminate COs-related activities and
products for environmental monitoring. The Facebook Insights tool helped COs page
managers to gain an understanding of public interest and social participation in this
page, with the objective of making more informed decisions about the publication
strategies of environmental health information.
In the COs Facebook page, via Insights’ quantifiable metrics and data
visualizations, we can conclude that most of the COs’ Facebook followers are (i) from
those cities and countries that are involved in COs-related activities, (ii) both women
and men equally, and (iii) middle-aged adults. Interestingly, the COs Facebook posts
with visual content tend to generate greater engagement than textual posts.
Furthermore, we found that posting COs-related content that has been broadcast via
TV increases engagement, and is one way to leverage the interaction factor between
mass media and social media.
Apart from the type/form of information (i.e., text, video, link, etc.) that is being
posted to the user, we believe that the actual content of the information is of great
importance for the total number of users that visit, reach, or are interested for a post.
Personalized information according to user needs can also have great impact in the
achieved engagement and potential increase of public interest.
Acknowledgments. This work has been partly supported by CITI-SENSE
(Development of sensor-based Citizens' Observatory Community for improving
quality of life in cities), a Collaborative Project co-funded by the EU FP7-ENV-2012
under grant agreement no 308524.
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Chapters (8)

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