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NGOs urged to maximize social media

/ 12:26 AM July 01, 2016

During the recent Technology for Good Forum, Cenvisnet, a network of nongovernment organizations in Central Visayas, encouraged greater use of social media in civil society.

“Having a presence on social media will enable you to communicate to a large group of people, which could be your potential supporters and funders. Social media platforms optimize visibility,” said Jed Adao of TechSoup Asia.

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Netizens can be quite passionate and sometimes irreverent, but amid the vitriol are diamonds in the rough: positive advocacy posts on issues such as the environment, human rights and public health.

“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 Sen. Risa Hontiveros during the meeting.

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“Social media also allows advocacy campaigns to target specific demographics, so youth-related campaigns can reach the youth, gender campaigns can reach women and LGBT, and so on,” she added.

One problem though is that online passion rarely translates into real-life action. While users will happily like, share, comment, or retweet posts, their participation usually ends there. Issues remain conversation topics instead of points for action.

However, recent events prove that social media talk can at times lead to action.

There is indeed huge potential for NGOs and other advocacy groups to reach their audience affordably and effectively through social media.

The numbers are compelling.

Some 48 million Filipinos are on Facebook, the largest social network in the country by far.

The majority of the users are millennials. They number to around 20 million and are very concerned about their future. However, their concern stays mostly inside the worldwide web.

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NGOs thus need to broaden, engage, and motivate their followers on social media, especially the millennials who were born in the early 1980s to the mid-90s and grew up with the growth of the internet.

“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.”

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