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Social Media

murray darling river

Full Project Title: Enabling community change through social media in the Murray-Darling Basin

Theme 3 : Better governance, planning and management - innovative approaches for the Murray-Darling Basin

This project was led by Dr Raechel Johns, Dr Matthias Muskat and Dr Birgit Muskat

Farmer Michael Tripodi in his nectarine orchard at Redland Orchards near Lake Boga in Victoria. Image taken in October 2007. Photo courtesy of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.This project is designed to build research capacity, while making a contribution to the Murray-Darling Basin communities. Furthermore, this research on new methods of communication is particularly essential to the Murray-Darling Basin communities given traditional communication methods utilised in the past have failed.

In addition to considering environmental concerns related to the Murray-Darling Basin, best practice communication needs to be considered. Traditional communication methods in the past have failed in the Murray Darling Basin. The Commonwealth‟s own communication strategy in 2010, the Guide for the Murray-Darling Basin Plan "provoked despair, anger and anxiety" within the communities (Commonwealth Inquiry 2011, p. 4), and was generally seen as being flawed by a mismanagement of "preparation and communication of the Guide" (Commonwealth Inquiry, 2011, p. 40). This project therefore advocates a more suitable approach in communication with the use of social media. Innovative approaches related to marketing and communication, as well as better governance, planning and management are necessary. This will ensure better water management, drive conservation and more importantly, disseminate appropriate communication to the community.

Social media usage is increasingly rapidly worldwide (Jones and Fox, 2009) and it is increasingly being used within Australia. It is known that there are different technology requirements for different geographical segments (Gilbert, Karahalios and Sandvig, 2008) and different social media sites have different uses, also (Chou, Hunt, Beckjord, Moser and Hesse, 2009). Evidence suggests that rural and urban residents use social media tools very differently (Gilbert et al., 2008). Social media is used commonly whereby users communicate with other users (Xiang and Gretzel, 2010), however increasingly businesses are using social media to communicate with users. The use of social media for Government and social matters can enhance transparency and acts as an anti-corruption tool (Bertot, Jaeger and Grimes, 2010).

This research will

  • provide an understanding of community use of social media tools and how the Murray-Darling Basin Futures could utilise these online tools;
  • increase understanding regarding influencing factors in the communication process (e.g. barriers such as power relationships in communities);
  • consider how to best disseminate communication to the appropriate communities and how social media can be utilised in management and governance;
  • review community demographic profiling and research into socio-cultural trends; and
  • contribute to the Faculty of Business and Government‟s core values Enterprise and Innovation, Social value and Responsibility and Sustainability.

There are 3 broad themes for this project

  1. Community Issues
  2. Social Media Issues
  3. Communication Issues

From those broad themes, there are a series of specific research themes.

Community Issues

Social Media Issues

Communication Issues

Change and adaption

Best practice usage


Water management

Benefits of social media

Channel richness

Power relationships/relations

User demographics

Communication model including encoding/ decoding and noise

Diffusion of innovations

Obstacles/ negative perceptions of Social Media

Other communication theories

Learning and awareness



Sites being utilised

As indicated above, there are several aspects to this study; however the main issues will be explored as relevant to the community.

Photo courtesy of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority. Farmer Michael Tripodi in his nectarine orchard at Redland Orchards near Lake Boga in Victoria. Image taken in October 2007.

MDBfutures is supported by the Australian Government's Collaborative Research Networks program.