Digital tools have become integral component of almost all organisations – governmental, non-governmental, corporate etc. Likewise, advocacy campaigns by Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are gradually shifting from the traditional platforms; to social media networks. And some of the most-utilised digital communication, information sharing and advocacy platforms include websites, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Gmail, Yahoo Mail and SMS. Over the years, the Kano-based Center for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) has been engaged in building the capacity of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and journalists on how to exploit social media networks as cogent platforms for the promotion of their various advocacy campaigns.
Conscious of the potency of social media platforms in reaching out to millions of audience (with relative ease and within a limited period of time) CITAD believes CSOs and the media can effectively utilize social media platforms in their advocacy campaigns. Surprisingly, many CSOs and journalists are yet to come to terms with effectively engaging these tools –beyond using them as means of personal communication.
In view of this, CITAD – in partnership with DFID’s State Accountability and Voice Initiative (SAVI) – conducted 2-day training on using social media as a platform for advocacy for CSOs and journalists from Yobe State. The training which was held between 18th and 19th of February 2014 at Nassarawa Guest House in Kano was attended by 37 participants including civil society activists, journalists and civil servants. Find attached the list of participants.
The training session commenced with an opening remark by Isyaku Garba, the programme coordinator of CITAD, which was preceded by a brief introduction from Malam Sambo Abdullahi, SAVI’s programme officer.
Speaking on the objective of the training, Isyaku Garba said it was meant to improve the capacity of the participants on how to effectually utilize social media platforms for advocacy, information sharing, as well as mobilisation of groups of concerned persons around an issue or cause.
“The purpose of social media advocacy is to galvanize supporters to take appropriate action on a particular issue at the right time,” he said. “It also cost little or nothing at all to set-up; has a potentially wide reach; allows for quick/instantaneous sharing of messages; as well as provides new opportunities to listen, engage, and monitor progress.”
He added that the training was also meant to improve participants’ knowledge of the social media as communication tool; enhance their capacity to promote the use of social media as advocacy platform as well as promote the capacity of the CSOs and journalists to use social media for organizational management.
The training featured seven presentations and three practical sessions. Find attached the training program
- Presentation: Understanding Social Media in the context of social activism
- Twitter & YouTube
- Presentation: Planning for Social Media for Advocacy
- Presentation: Building Up Friends and Followers
- Online tools and advance Internet use
- Presentation: case study: How Social Media can be used for Peace Campaign
- Presentation: Evaluating Social Media
TESTIMNIALS, COMMENDATIONS & RECOMMENDATIONS:
The training was very interactive and participatory, as it featured fruitful discussions (between participants and facilitators) on how to effectively utilise the social media as a platform for advocacy campaigns. At the end, participants expressed satisfaction on the various presentations made and called for similar trainings to be continually organised so as to sharpen CSOs/ media’s capacity to engage with social media platforms in their advocacy campaigns.
Below are the testimonials, commendations and recommendations of the participants:
– A journalist participant testified that the most interesting aspect of the training was the online translation phase, which he said he didn’t know about prior to the training. He was visibly happy that, from now on, he could translate his reports into any language using the translation search engine on the internet.
– Another participant testified that prior to the training, he was only using online social networking services like Facebook to alert his friends if he was travelling, so as to request for their prayers. As a result of the training, he said, he would now begin to exploit social media platforms as advocacy tools as well as promote the activities of his organization.
– Another participant testified that prior to the training; he had no Facebook account, which he was able to sign up for in the course of the training, and which he wanted to use as a platform for advocacy in his community.
– Some participants testified that prior to the training, they didn’t know they could make video call via Facebook and asserted that they had (in the course of the training) learnt to make video calls on Facebook.
– A female participant at the training commended the efforts of CITAD and SAVI for organizing the training and stated that prior to the training; she could only hear of words like twitter and twit. She testified that she had (in the course of the training) not only signed up for a twitter account but could also twit.
– Another participant recommended that CITAD get an adviser on security issues that would advise and guide the Centre on how to approach security issues – as part of the Centre’s peace projects.
– A participant testified that the training has turned all the participants to citizen journalists because they could easily share information among themselves as well as with thousands others via the social media. However, he appealed to participants to always post reliable information.
– Another participant testified that though he was already conversant with the social media, he wasn’t familiar with the techniques of using it as an advocacy tool. He acknowledged as the most interesting aspect of the training, his ability to use YouTube to post his video messages, which he said he couldn’t do prior to the training.
– Another participant testified that as a result of the training, he could now create social media groups and pages for staff of his organization as well as be able to moderate the groups and pages. Moreover, he advised all the participants to do the same for their organisations as well as conduct step-down trainings for staff of their organisations so as to expose them to the technicalities of social media-based advocacy campaigns.
– A participant testified that the training provided him with his first opportunity to practically engage with the social media, which he said he was only hearing of prior to the training. He pledged to use it as a tool for advocacy campaign in his community.
– A participant from Yobe’s ministry of budget pledged to make use of the social media skills he acquired in the training to improve on his work as a budget officer. He also promised to conduct step-down training for his colleagues.