For the past 3 years, Open Contracting Partnership has worked with Marc Maxmeister of Keystone Accountability to measure the Open Contracting Partnership(OCP)’s community size, reach, and strength. As part of this project, OCP hosts a yearly LabStorm to share the new measurement results and discuss how the results can be used to inform their strategy moving forward.
This year’s discussion was Twitter-tastic.
Twitter has been a key tool for Open Contracting Partnership to measure community activity and strength but it’s not without its limitations.
How can we leverage this community-building tool towards the larger goals of improving governance everywhere? Here are our key takeaways:
Twitter is a good start. With it’s accessible platform, trackable hashtags and simple analytics, Twitter is a perfect place to start community measurement. However, it is limited in scope. First of all, tweets do not necessarily indicate action. People may discuss their interest or support for open contracting, but that does not necessarily mean that they are contributing to projects in the community. In order to track community contributions and progress towards goals, Open Contracting Partnership will need a more robust and closely monitored dashboard. It is difficult to track discussions about the topic in every language and dialect of the Twitterverse, so some conversations may go unnoticed. Additionally, Twitter presents a geographic bias because some countries have more of a Twitter culture than others. Africa and LATAM are key regions for OCP’s work and the community here tends to use whatsapp and facebook a lot more than Twitter, platforms where OCP is not as active and does not monitor. In order to understand the nature of their online community, Open Contracting Partnership must go beyond Twitter and look at direct communications and community achievements as well.
Collaboration is key. One of the goals of the Open Contracting Partnership is to build a strong, self-sustaining movement committed to good governance. And they can’t do it alone! In order to be a thought leader while allowing for co-creation, Open Contracting Partnership should consider sharing their measurement process with other organizations working in the sector. Learning is one of the key cornerstones of their work so it makes sense to extend this to network analysis. Other organizations can help guide their thinking and measurement indicators, and would also be able to use the results. By working with other partners to measure the community, Open Contracting Partnership can deepen the learning and strength of their community.
Consider adjacent communities. There are communities across the Twitterverse working to improve governance, and Open Contracting is just one of them. As OCP seeks to measure their community size and activity, they must consider how their community relates to the overall Twitterverse that is working to improve governance. In order to accurately measure activity and movement towards these goals, they should consider measuring movement and activity in other, adjacent twitter communities. A narrow focus could miss indicators of growth elsewhere. As they consider expanding the community measurement project to adjacent communities, OCP can select certain organizations in these communities to track their activity. This will give the organization – and community – a better understanding of how Open Contracting relates to the overall Twitterverse and which communities are pushing towards certain good governance goals.
This LabStorm reminded us of the power and limitations of Twitter for community measurement. Are you an expert in rallying people around a cause in the Twitterverse? Leave a comment below or send us an email at [email protected].