My social media journey started sometime in 2007 (jeez its 10 years already!!) when I started my Facebook account. It started with the Facebook page being for personal purposes. Eventually we started incorporating this into our work which involves building online communities and we soon realised that Facebook offered us a valuable opportunity to communicate with as well as inform with our various communities.
Then in 2010, I spread my wings to blogging when I became the unofficial blogger of our delegation during my participation in the IVLP (International Visitor Leadership Program) which was themed A New Beginning : Entrepreneurship and Business Innovation. IVLP is the premiere work exchange program run by the US State Department. The IVLP I was a part of was a new series initiated by President Obama in 2010 during the first Global Entrepreneurship Summit. It was an exciting trip and opportunity.
which has garnered more than 30,000 likes. GSY involved over 500 youth from over a 100 countries around the world. This was my first experience in using Facebook for work and as Administrator and Program Director I had a steep learning curve (and a lot of fun 🙂 ) in learning about boosting posts, creating interesting posts to both promote signups as well as a communication tool to accepted delegates. This was handy especially when it came to logistics which turned out to be a nightmare. Maintaining calm and peace amidst all the chaos of trying to juggle flights, accommodation, visas, speakers for everyone to arrive on time was extremely challenging. In doing this, I learnt that keeping everyone uptodate and being transparent was key as every information/post has the potential to be the spark that ignites a new fire i.e go viral.
We next used it when we were engaged to manage the inaugural Young Southeast Asian Leaders Inititative (YSEALI) Workshop, an initiative of President Obama in April 2014 managed through the US State Department.
When working on the first workshop, we worked with both Facebook and Twitter to engage with the participants. This was my first encounter with Twitter where we regularly held Twitter hours with the participants to encourage engagement as well as to help shape the content. We all got a chance to meet President Obama at the Town Hall in Kuala Lumpur and it was definitely a highlight of this engagement.
After this I got more and more comfortable with both platforms (FB more than Twitter) and we regularly used this in our subsequent programs as a way to continuously engage with the participants of our various training and entrepreneurship programs especially after our initial face to face engagements with them.
Context : Social Media and PR Campaigns
We are currently actively using Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram to actively engage with and grow the online community of a primary school coding training program we have been running nationwide in Malaysia since 2016. Its called Coding@Schools and as the program primarily relates to primary school students, we do face some challenges and constraints in using these mediums as a tool to engage. The Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/codingatschools/ is kept active with the various activities of the program.
Why is this a challenge and constraint? Well since the participants are below 12 years old, parents and schools do impose restrictions on the use of social media platforms during school and after school and we are finding ways to work around this. This is where I believe that the learnings from this unit will help me (and the team) achieve that.
Our challenge is centred around increasing the active participation in the post program activities in the form of competitions and continued learning that we want to encourage among the participants. The overall program is structured around face to face engagement that is then to be followed up with self-learning by the students guided by their teachers and online engagement. Incentives for participation in the social media platforms are offered in the form of rewards and prizes. While we would have trained nearly 3,000 students by the end of 2016, the FB likes remain at close to 1700 participants only. Twitter take up is even lower. We would like this to be as close to the number of students trained pr at least the teachers and parents, if not more.
The other challenge is of course this is a bit of a ‘greenfield’ area in that there are not many examples that we can use as this is not in a traditional context. It is neither a purely non-profit, education or PR campaign context. It is possibly the place where all the 3 intersect. Having said that, I am sure we can find learnings from the different contexts to be applied to achieve our social media objectives of this program.
More in the next post!