Social media is no longer a new tool for everyone to get connected across the globe. As of 2015, there are over 2.206 billion users, which is 30% of the world’s population. It has become clear that social media really is the future of global marketing.
For nonprofits, social media can be an effective tool to tell stories of what the organization has done for the world and to engage more supporters. As such, the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) facilitated social media trainings in several regional #GCARD3 dialogues that aim to provide people especially those who work in agricultural research environment with skills in managing social media. I was blessed to be one of the participants for the social media training held in Bangkok, Thailand, as a representative of Young Professional for Agricultural Development (YPARD) last December.
After the training, I committed to transfer the new knowledge and skills on social media at the 21st National Congress of International Association of Students in Agricultural and Related Sciences (IAAS) Indonesia – one of YPARD’s partner organization – in Surakarta, Indonesia. Startlingly, I observed many unique things, in which Peter Casier – our mentor – might have experienced as well, when I was delivering the training.
Although I only had a very short time to deliver the training, I was able to sum up some of the experiences:
Smartphone (not always but) can replace a PC or laptop
Exchanging information is now only a click away, thanks to the rapid development of ICT. Mobile phones which used to be a device for phone calls and short text messaging only, recently has come up with a ‘smart’ titles on the front.
And what does that mean?
With the advanced mobile operating systems which combines features of a personal computer operating system with other mobile or handheld features, running any social media applications in the smartphone is easy as pie. You can update anytime and anywhere and just get the word out cheaper and faster.
You will have youth as majority of your trainees
Yes, youth are the major part of this training. They are tweeting, Facebook-ing, Instagram-ing, and so on. In the United States alone, around 70% of young people use social media for networking. A study by Kaiser Family Foundation found that young people spend about 7 hours 38 minutes every day consuming media, just as much time as their parents spend for working.
This might be a rather unpleasant fact for us, but there is a silver lining if we could only see it.
With the sheer number of users, our homework is to reach and mobilize these social media savvy youths in supporting social causes and spreading awareness, especially in agriculture, through the things they like the most – technology and social media.
Do not expect people to respect you by seeing you eye-to-eye
Oops! Not that way!
I mean, during the training people would focus more on their screens rather than you as the trainer. That is obvious since working on social media needs you to put your full attention on the screen in order to generate splendid ideas and inspiration.
It was a fun time when I asked them to make a blog title based on the congress’ theme. They worked so hard to think of a catchy title to come up with. Eventually, they realized that social media management for non-profits really takes a professional skill and became so eager to learn deeply about using social media for IAAS.
The trainees will be amazed by the new information and tricks of social media
They might have been aware of the use of social media, but did they really know the secret functions of social media? Nope, I don’t think so.
So, when I told them a few tricks about live tweeting (the chitty-chitty trick taught by Peter), they were blown away and then got busy writing on their notebooks. For a student organization like IAAS with tons of live scientific event such as seminars and summits, a live-tweeting skill is so much needed and useful to engage more public audience.
Vice versa, you will be amazed by the thing you have not figured out about the vast development of social media
In the feedback session, they told me about a social network for food cravers – Qraved – I was amazed. This recently launched application allows users to find any dining points based on their desired cuisine, location or restaurant. So for someone like me who loves to go on food adventure, this social network could provide me with necessary information and even book a table for me.
Another mind-blowing trick that I just knew is to make our page in Pinterest profiles and board shown by search engines such as Google and Bing within their search results. Pretty much interesting tool for nonprofits, right?
Laughter and interactive discussions are always the best part
Do not forget to keep the discussion fun! We don’t want the participants to get tired of hearing us explaining this and that without any feedback from the participants. A training – whatever kind that could be – can be so boring. Get them intrigued! Get them delighted! Make it alive by throwing jokes or impressive tricks on social media.
You will always need multiple electronic sockets (duh!)
This is an absolute requirement when you deliver a social media training. I will not argue on this, otherwise people will complain about where to plug in their laptops.
Everyone knows that people are the most important asset in an organization. Hiring someone professional or training your people on social media is mandatory to keep the balls rolling. The potential for nonprofits to reach more support and leverage popularity without tapping into a limited budget is massive.
For me, I believe that to share the newly acquired skills that can further develop agriculture and encourage the people are what matter the most in a world like this. I will leave you with this one final piece of advice:
“The ever thriving start-up culture encourages risk-taking and bold moves. Similarly, the tech-savviest of nonprofits nowadays see themselves as "social entrepreneurs," working to find innovative, or in select cases even disruptive, solutions to social problems. Take note and approach social media with the same attitude. Opportunities are out there. Find them.”