DEF in collaboration with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) organised a two-day residential training for handpicked non-profits to provide a platform to exchange their existing strategies, challenges, experiences and utilisation of the social media platforms and elevate the endeavours for better outreach. The workshop was organised in New Delhi on October 5 and 6, 2017. Thirty participants from Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and India contributed in the workshop. This workshop was an advanced-level training with participatory methodology adopted for various sessions that focussed on the needs of the participants — from devising strategies, curating content and leveraging advertising plan.
The participants thoroughly engaged in dialogues to understand how social media can increase their brand awareness, help them engage with their clients, and implement an effective digital communication strategy.
The rise of social media has vastly changed the nature of conversation between non-profit organisations and their audiences. It has changed the way people and non-profits stay informed, learn and engage. In today’s time, it is of prime importance for non-profits to establish a visibility on social media; they should have an effective presence on social media and this involves a clear understanding of how, when, what and why individuals engage with non-profits on social media. The power of social media is transforming the way in which non-profits accomplish their missions. Non-profits are struggling to communicate with supporters and the public in new ways, and furthermore, these populations have new expectations from NGOs.
But the question for non-profits is: Can social media help build public support for their work? Can it change the likes on social media to donors?
Communicating the success stories and impact numbers is one of the priority media responsibilities for non-profits. This means that non-profits need to catalyse and facilitate this information on social media for mass consumption. The idea is to share with people and audience compelling stories. And social media allows non-profits to build awareness of their mission, grow their influence and empower their supporters to spread their message through minimum cost involved.
The elements covered during the two-day residential workshop were:
- Digital trends and the evolving nature of online audiences
- The extent to which development institutions are grasping social media opportunities.
- The secrets of successful social media strategies and partnerships.
- Marketing, advertising and promotion using social media
- Embracing social media fundraising
- Best Practices of Digital marketing
- Content creation for Facebook, Twitter & Instagram
The workshop explored how non-profits can use, influence, and shape social media and social networking for effective and reliable two-way communication. Peer-to-peer dialogues addressed how social media shapes modern communications and how non-profits can use them for the purpose of improving branding, marketing, promotion and advertising.
There were also discussions around how online audiences want to hear from real people, and especially from those who are affected by an organisation’s work; and how organisations can reach out to new communities.
The dialogues at the workshop among the participants proved that the ability of social media for non-profits — to support on-going communication, shared environments, and fundraise — must be harnessed. The participants also discussed the challenges of designing effective social media campaigns, expertise for content generation and curation, and innovativeness to build the right audience that catered to their organisation.
The participants discussed how social media can help non-profits meet their networking objectives. The enormous and diverse networks that exist on social media platforms and the potential to build new networks using social media are critical access points for non-profits to engage with their networks.
A participant during the presentation of his social media strategies and challenges, mentioned how social media increases non-profits’ ability to communicate with various stakeholders. He gave an example of his organisation and how by networking with these stakeholders on social media, non-profits can help weave a diverse community of followers, access diverse perspectives from large populations, build and share knowledge, mobilise people, coordinate resources, and produce action.
A case study by Breakthrough highlighted that it is important to remember that the impact of social media will continue to evolve, and thus organisations need to be willing to adapt continuously in order to find success in their online interactions. The conversations helped build a consensus that keeping away from the social media is not an option for non-profits anymore, especially for the organisations that are actively working at the grassroots level.
In order to boost social media outreach of civil society professionals, the participants have agreed to conduct regular social media campaigns, go LIVE using Facebook, establish a clear set of social media guidelines, understand the organisation’s online voice, and ideate about content curation as a matter of prime importance. The participants also agreed on the importance of encouraging their online supporters to discuss and share the organisation’s activities within their own networks; and to set up a small social media budget to start with.
All participants have also been added to a WhatsApp and Facebook group where they will:
- Share experiences using social media and adopting cutting-edge tools
- Share lessons on how to design, implement and monitor effective digital strategies
- Identify avenues to engage with citizens online
- Agree on ways to collaborate on upcoming events and campaigns
- Feedback on each other’s work and to use everyone’s skills
- Jointly explore the elements of effective digital communications strategies
- Building and strengthening diverse networks
On October 10, 2017, another SM4E workshop was organised in Jammu, Jammu and Kashmir. DEF in collaboration with FNF organised a social media for empowerment workshop in Jammu with the Social Welfare Department of the J&K government.
Government officials from Handicrafts Department, Department of Rural Development, Social Welfare Department, Women and Child Department and local NGOs functional in Jammu participated actively in the day long workshop. This was the very first time when J&K Government officials were going through a social media for empowerment training. Around 100 participants attended the workshop to understand the use of social media platforms in a more active and competent manner.
During the workshop the participants identified opportunities and challenges to improve government use of social media, and collectively address them for the shared benefit of all departments in order to communicate in a better way. Social Media offers a unique opportunity to governments to engage with their stakeholders especially citizens in real time to make policy making citizen centric. The NGOs discussed about creation of online communities that provide opportunities for citizens to collaborate, participate, and engage with their government.
Some of the highlights of the workshop included best practices for innovative, effective, and responsible use and governance of social media across the government departments, organising more social media trainings and workshops all over the state, grievances redressal mechanism through social media, importance of maintaining official government department pages and posting consistently on the pages to disseminate information quickly. One of the main focuses in the workshop was on how social media platform can be utilised by the Government for educating and informing citizens of the state and promote citizen engagement.
A senior govt official caught attention of the participants by highlighting the use of social media to avoid circulation of unverified details and misleading rumours with respect to government policies. Leveraging these social media platforms can help to counter such sensitivities and present the facts to allow informed opinion making.
The day concluded with a way forward conversation amongst officials who discussed that in order to successfully utilise this media, the departments must define clear objectives of such an engagement, select right social media platforms that will be used, rules and policies of who will be responsible for what in the department, communication strategy and broad outline.