Who does it leave out?

by | May 8, 2020 | ICT4D |

Horace wants to know what the weaknesses are of the digital solutions we are recommending. It’s a good question. At the moment there tends to an underlying assumption that digital is the answer to everything. It will solve our remote working challenges. While there is a lot digital can help us with, a good question to keep asking is ‘who does it leave out?’

Facebook is one of the most used digital platforms on the planet. Somewhere between 2.5-3 billion users (give or take a million). That’s a LOT of people. However, it means that two thirds of the world’s population does NOT use it. Therefore, in a group of people you are much more likely to pick a non-user at random than a user. So no, Facebook is not the answer.

Talking about ‘going digital’ often has a messianic aura to it. It will solve everything. It won’t. It doesn’t need to. And perhaps starting with the technology is the wrong place to start. One of my brilliant colleagues, Catherine, regularly reminds us that 70% of the people we work prefer face to face communication. And that our starting point always must be asking our ‘audience’ how they would like to be communicated with – which method – because no community is homogeneous.

Here’s the thing. Every choice we make leaves someone out. There is no magic medium that reaches everyone – not mobile, not the internet, not TV, and not even radio. And that is ok. In fact it’s probably a good thing.

Knowing your audience, understanding their context, their day to day lives, their preferences is helpful. But then go one step further, ask them if they want to hear from you because perhaps they don’t. Allow them the choice, your message will be better received if they choose to hear from you. This is as relevant in public health messages as it is in marketing a product.

So perhaps my ‘who does this leave out’ question needs to be refined. Who of your target audience does this leave out? But this assumes you have a distinct target audience which is not everyone or close to everyone. Or maybe the question should be, ‘who are you going to intentionally leave out?’

And before I go, one of the biggest groups that are almost always left out and not considered are people living with disabilities (mental and physical). If one of your target audiences is vulnerable people, please can you ensure people with disabilities are included, it will have massive impact.


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