Social media course transforms campaigning

OSISA trains activists to exploit social media tools

Richard Lee's picture


Strategic communications for WWF

October 15th, 2012

Ask any activist or civil society organisation about social media and they will quickly rattle off the famous four – Facebook, twitter, YouTube and blogging. But few have been taught how best to use them – or that there are a host of other tools that can play a role in increasing the impact and effectiveness of campaigns.

Realising this, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) has launched a social media training programme for activists from the region – as well as its own staff. Led by Illume - an african-based creative studio that strives to be the change we want to see in africa and in the world - the first course involved 20 people from Angola, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe – all of whom went away both more energised and better able to exploit the tools at their disposal.

And all of them have started blogging already. 

Like Phakam Shili from the Centre for Human Rights and Development in Swaziland who wrote, ‘The seminar was very eye opening because I did not know the potential of social media to promote my work. The training has made me identify critical areas that must be considered for an effective campaign’.

Or mojalifa mokoele who thanked OSISA for the ‘much needed social media training’ and stressed that the Sexual Rights Centre would use the social media platforms to ‘greatly support the LGBTI community to advocate for their rights, lobby for policy changes and seek support’.

And she also dealt with the fear that many people experience when the topic of using social media comes up. ‘It is clear to us that social media is not a monster. We just have to bed it and climax!’

Meanwhile, the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) has already decided to use the new skills its Information Manger was taught to step up its social networking campaign.

‘Firstly, we will use them to avail residents of critical information pertaining to service delivery and local governance. Secondly, social media will provide platforms for residents to share their views and wishes on service delivery and governance issues. And lastly, these tools will bring to the fore anomalies in service delivery by the holders of public office that will help to promote accountability in their operations’.

In particular, The BPRA will use social networks more because they are a ‘good medium to reach to the youth, who are generally apathetic when it comes to issues of governance and service delivery’.

Kiss Brian Abraham from Flip Magazine in Zambia was amazed by the impact of linking all the various tools together. “This workshop has provided me with a fresh perspective on the opportunities on the internet for sharing and engaging on issues. We learnt that Facebook can allow for the development of a network of followers, twitter can be used for generating alerts, Youtube for sharing videos and blogs for analysis,” said Abraham.

“Integrating these tools into space by interlinking them can enhance the visibility of ones work and within a short period of time, you could have a complete campaign production house,” he added. “I intend to create exactly this in my country.”

And finally, Chiti Katongo from Zambia’s Generation Alive wrote that ‘With the training I got I will be confident in running online campaigns and I will not be limited to just one social media tool. Instead I will make my voice heard by linking my blog to other social media tools’.


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