As the fourth industrial revolution dawns upon us, even more organisations are having to adapt or die in this Internet of Things (IOT) world we live in.
Facebook this week dedicated a day to NGOs, giving them a crash course on how to use the platform to the fullest advantage, by simply using language their audience understands, and not language that they understand.
Emilar Gandhi, public policy manager for Facebook in the SADC region, indicated why there was a need for them to connect with non-profits. “The purpose is really threefold. Firstly, to learn and network, not only learning from the NGOs perspective, but us learning from the NGOs as well, as we value the contribution that the non-profits bring.
“This is a day for NGOs to connect with us as well as to connect with each other. It is great having the deputy minister and policy makers. This event has happened in other countries like Spain, Germany and the UK. It is important that we do this now to show our commitment to not only South Africa, but in Africa as a whole to re-emphasise our commitment in investing in the different communities around us, be it NGOs or start-ups,” she explained.
Products make partnerships
When brands approach non-profits, it’s usually conceived as an opportunity for self-promotion; evidently Facebook had different intentions. “We offer two things to NGOs: one from a product perspective and the other from a partnership perspective. From a partnership perspective, although there is no monetary attachment, we can share knowledge and there is a knowledge exchange,” she explained.
“From a product perspective, we offer Ad Credits; there is a rigorous process that determines which NGOs are deserving of those credits. We also provide them with training on how to use those Ad Credits. We hope that NGO days continue,” Ghandi said.
SA’s internet penetration
A recent study by Hootsuite revealed that nearly 60% of South Africans are internet users and that there are a whopping 18 million Facebook accounts. South Africans are slowly starting to use social media as a source for news, no longer strictly relying on TV and newspapers.
Deputy minister of communications, Pinky Kekena was a noticeable figure at the event and shared her sentiments on how Facebook had become a platform to expose untoward and destructive behaviour on the internet by cowards who hide behind a computer screen.
NGOs at centre stage
Representatives from various NGOs spoke of their own experiences of struggling to navigate the tricky world of social media, most importantly how they found it difficult to use Facebook to drive their cause. Gwadamirai Majange, communications programme manager from the Graca Machel Trust said the organisation profiled women in finance and the challenges that they experience.
“Advocacy research is what we focus on, in an attempt to tell a story that complements our research and Twitter is a great advocacy tool to network in Africa,” Majange said. “The Trust plans to use more technology to meet their objectives and intends to start a blog which they’ll post on their website and also launch a portal in order to bring together information from different sources in a uniform way,” she added.
Tendai Thondhlana, is from the Other Foundation, an African trust that advances equality and freedom in Southern Africa with a particular focus on sexual orientation. He voiced his frustrations, saying although technology in itself was progressive, views on sexuality were not as progressive on the web.
“Whenever we’ve used hashtags in our campaigns containing the word gay, it is immediately flagged as inappropriate so we are faced with the challenge of highlighting issues in the LBGTI community, but using alternative words to do so,” he shared.
The South African Institute for International Affairs’, Nicki Rehbock, explained how they use Facebook and other internet based platforms for full exposure. “We use CANVA, we’ve just been approved for Google AdWords and for high profile events we use Facebook Live,” she revealed.
Opportunity for dialogue
To wrap up the event, there were various breakaway sessions for NGOs to engage with Facebook. The topics discussed included disaster response management, how to amplify your cause, workplace for good, how to use Facebook to help your cause, and a hard questions session.
In the How to Amplify Your Cause session, Facebook reps gave some helpful tips on how NGOs can take photos of their beneficiaries without compromising their identity. One of these included, instead of taking a photo of their face, they should rather take one of their hands or feet.
Reabetswe Rabaji is a journalism intern working at Wag the Dog. He is currently studying PR and Communication Management at the University of Johannesburg.