Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Social Media for Social Change


Via The Alternative
Non-profit organizations, by their very nature, work on wafer thin budgets. They do not have viable access to traditional channels of financing, unless they can demonstrate value and unfortunately demonstrating value via normal media channels – television, newsprint, radio, requires money. It’s the classic conumdrum, chicken or the egg, which came first? So, how does such an organization build its brand and reach out to more people to act on its behalf and support activities?

Many enterprising NGOs are using the power of the internet remarkably effectively to spread their word, build campaigns and raise funds. But is it really that simple? Engaging millions in the vapour world towards tangible on-ground action?

Social Media is based primarily on The “word-of-mouth” philosophy. To take advantage of the viral culture, any NGO starting to build a brand online, needs to build a strong community of individuals who feel strongly enough about the cause to be spokespeople for the said brand. When individuals engage in conversation with an organisation and are exposed to experiences and stories that move them, they form bonds with each other and effectively self-organise into a community. It is the job of an NGO seeking to leverage social media to encourage the right sort of conversations and effectively curate the information out there.

Pratham Books, a publishing house that provides children in India with quality books at affordable prices, whose primary aim is “to see a book in every child’s hand”, is a case in point. It has used all manner of social media to build a network of supporters. According to Gautam John, New Projects, Pratham Books “one must be patient, authentic and transparent to see the results of social media. It takes time for people to listen, trust and engage with your cause. But, once you manage to gain their trust, they are willing to be your spokesperson, recommend you to other people, help with initiatives you start.”
Read the entire article here.

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