An advancement professional in Indonesia highlighted a problem in some developing countries: internet access in rural or remote areas is hard to come by, and even where it's available, few households or schools enjoy broadband connections. This limits access to media-rich social media websites and other communication tools that many of us take for granted.
How can you use social media when your audience is in a less developed low-bandwidth region?
I sent off some suggestions, five of which I've listed here (including some general ideas that are not limited to social media):
1. Use mobile websites
Mobile sites work in a regular web browser on a computer, but are designed to load quickly on devices with low bandwidth, slow connections, or weak processors. You can almost always find these sites by just putting "m." before the domain name in your mobile browser.
2. Publish to social media accounts using email
3. Use plain text (not HTML) for email invitations and e-newsletters
The plain text (or other "text only") option is generally available when subscribing to, and formatting emails and e-newsletters. And if you are blogging, use the "text only" option in Feedburner to send subscribers your new blog posts in plain text format instead of HTML.
[How can you use social media in a low-bandwidth region?]
4. Email your content to someone with higher-bandwidth
If you're publishing from a low bandwidth location, you can send your content to a higher bandwidth colleague or volunteer, and they can edit and post the information directly to social sites (e.g., from a shared institutional account).
5. Review this list of knowledge-sharing tools
There are many listed, all aimed at lower-bandwidth environments: http://www.kstoolkit.org/KSTools
As for voice communication, remember that text-based chat can replace low-quality telephone calls and high-bandwidth Skype calls. And if you are using Skype, have the lowest-bandwidth user initiate the call.
Do you have tips or resources for organizations or audiences lacking high-bandwidth access? Leave a comment.