Back in 2008, when I founded Youth Ki Awaaz, social media was not given enough importance at all. I remember walking into offices of big corporates, non-profits, and youth-focused brands to talk about how they could benefit through social media and blogging, and how Youth Ki Awaaz could fit in - and being ridiculed for making Facebook sound so important.
Times changed rapidly. 5 years since, social media is on everyone’s mind, and everyone is trying their best to make sense out of it - and our focus remains highly towards helping social good orgs and non-profits create a niche for themselves on social media.
Most social media experts are not really experts, as their understanding level, more often than not, is restricted to the number of likes and followers you get, and the amount of cheese you can create on your social media hubs - and not essentially on virality of your cause, the ideas that you want to propagate, and building emotional recognition for your brand.
Non-profits in specific struggle the most with social media. With a lack of communication budget, and organizational will, social good orgs are loosing out on a lot. I remember an argument with a friend who ran a rural development focused NGO and believed very strongly that social media is of no good to him since his audience was not the “type” that visited Facebook - which as he described as urban, middle class, careless, young, and people who he did not need as his focus was rural. He was wrong!
No matter how much stereotype you’d like to attach to the kind of people who live and breathe on social media, you cannot ignore that an NGO cannot work in isolation. If you are on ground and trying to have an impact, you have to be online and try and drive viral PR for your work, which helps you get a larger representation, supports you during your grant writing initiatives and helps you engage a larger section of the society. This stereotyped audience is the very audience that will help you take your cause to millions, and let the world know about what you are doing. They are the influencers, and the exciting challenge is to get these people interested in your cause.
That same friend now recruits 40% of his volunteers through his Facebook page and posts, and runs a blog that talks about rural economy and micro-lending - which has helped him create himself as an authority on the subject. His blog recently got him invited to an international conference in Sri Lanka to talk about micro-lending.
Till now, social media has only been seen as a place to promote yourself at. It has been thought of as a space where you can put up a status, a link, a tweet and hope that you will get shares, likes or whatever!
We believe that social media for social good is a much bigger concept. It is about creating a niche online, a support system that you can piggy back on. A network that helps you create a space where your good is advocated far and wide, and sensitizes people about your cause more than you think it would.
This, is what we call social media advocacy, a concept that Youth Ki Awaaz came up with to help social good organizations use social media to create a lobby for their rightful cause.
In the coming days, I will be posting more about the various things that social good organizations could do on social media to advocate for their issues and causes rightly, and more actively.