Article: NGOnline: what advocacies need to harness social media effectively

Publication: Manila Bulletin Online

At the Technology for Good Forum conducted last April 2016, Cenvisnet, a network of NGOs in Central Visayas, encouraged the greater use of social media among their fellow organizations. “Having presence in social media will enable you to communicate to a large group of people, which could be your potential supporters and funders. Social media optimizes visibility,” said Jed Adao of TechSoup Asia in the same conference.

“Since a lot of Filipinos have access to social media in one way or another, it’s a viable tool to reach out to them,” said Senator-elect Risa Hontiveros, a social activist on women’s rights and poverty.

While users will happily like, share, comment, or retweet these posts, their participation usually ends there. Issues remain conversation topics instead of points for action. However, recent events prove that social media talk can turn into actual walk: in the last elections, a historic turnout of 40 million out of 54.4 million registered voters, more than 81 percent. There is a huge potential for Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and other advocacy groups if that exception can become the norm. 48 million Filipinos are on Facebook, the largest social network in the country by far. The majority of the users are millennials with approximately 20 million or 41 percent who are aged 20-29.

NGOs need to broaden, engage, and motivate their followers in social media. “Unlike previous generations, millennials are drawn to instant gratification so content needs to be short and interesting,” said Rica Oquias, head of social media and digital operations at M2.0 Communications, a digital marketing agency based in Quezon City. “They love videos. And most of all, they want their voice to be heard so it’s crucial to engage them in meaningful dialogues.”

Some NGOs are already expanding their online endeavors. After using social media to help in relief efforts, the Philippine Red Cross has partnered with influencers to widen their reach, using their blogs to inspire support for the organization. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is also expanding their library of punchy, shareworthy videos in the internet.

Pura Angela Wee, Resilience/Health Systems Strengthening Consultant at UNICEF, said that the videos made “the issues more concrete and visual.”

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