BY JUSTINE CHEW
(all photos courtesy of HAKAM)
Strengthening Civil Society Advocacy through Effective Use of Social Media
“When we change to way we communicate, we change society.” — Clay Shirky
Social Media has over the past 10 years changed communication between individuals, organisations and nations. This ever evolving communication technology continues to transform the way people interact and even the way they think. That is the reason, Social Media now occupies a vital portion of many successful corporations’ organizational and business strategies. Governments have also recognized the power of social media – to further their causes and goals, construct and deconstruct societies. Government and politics are changed, and some destroyed, through the use of social media.
In other parts of the world, civil society leaders and organizations have long teamed up with technology and social media experts to address community challenges through social media and this partnership had created new interesting solutions for those organisations to better serve their community.
However, Malaysian Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have yet to leverage much on social media tools notwithstanding that (a) the tools are readily available, and (b) social media is a proven potent platform to shape conversations and influence opinions, facilitate speedier and more effective engagement and sharing of information.
“Old ways won’t open new doors.”
CSOs have in the past and still do rely on the usual traditional methods of advocacy through press statements and forum and town hall meetings. Traditional medium like these are limited in its capacity to reach and often offer very limited space or time for any discussion or conversation to take place between the speaker and the audience.
Under these circumstances, and seeing the limited success in advocacy campaigns by Malaysian CSOs in general, HAKAM developed and implemented a How to Leverage on Social Media for Impactful Social Change in Malaysia Workshop in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 16-17 July 2016. HAKAM’s strategy for this capacity building workshop was to engage and partner with social media experts to train human rights activists, CSO representatives and volunteers in harnessing the tools and potential of social media, covering areas of technology and content for effective advocacy.
The Workshop, held on 16-17 July 2016, at Capri by Fraser Kuala Lumpur, was attended by 49 participants from 36 organisations*. Of those participants, 43 were human rights activists representing 33 CSOs across 7 states/territories in Malaysia – even from as far as Penang, Sabah and Sarawak – and who work in diverse areas of human rights including right to life / anti-death penalty, free and fair elections / electoral reforms, women’s rights, academic and education rights, religious rights, socio-economic rights, freedom of expression, environmental rights, civil rights, disaster response, constitutionalism and human rights, human rights research, human rights in international trade, and land rights.
With the support of external funders, HAKAM was able to engage trainers to develop and conduct this workshop.
The workshop’s principal trainers were Ryan Lim and Jolyn Soo of Singapore-based QED Consulting Pte Ltd. As Principal Consultant and Founding Partner of QED Consulting, Ryan, who has more than 15 years experience as a digital marketer and is a pioneer in social media marketing, was able to draw on his experiences working with the world’s leading businesses and brands as well as his knowledge on digital marketing and content strategies, digital team structures, digital reputation management, digital marketing audits, social media crisis management and social media intelligence, in developing and conducting the major portion of the workshop.
Our photo gallery of the event
On the second day of the workshop, we had Lau Chak Onn, Editor-in-Chief of Cilisos.my conduct an interactive session on the topic of “What makes compelling content on social media?” As part of his presentation, Chak Onn engaged participants by seeking their feedback based on his proposed framework of how to make their content powerful, yet interesting, readable and concise.
Participants were also able to address their questions to a panel during a Question & Answer session towards the conclusion of the workshop. Panelists Ryan and Chak Onn, who were joined by HAKAM Secretary-General Robyn Choi, fielded questions on the subject of effective social media strategies.
The questions posed ranged from questions of applicable laws to the online media sphere, the creative process for developing content, how to simplify and make heavy human rights issues inspiring, tips on dealing with disgruntled netizens, how to improve on use of and participation in online petitions for campaigns, and the use of creative posters, infographics, video and other alternatives to text-based content.
The scope and content for the workshop although wide, had to be condensed into a manageable volume for delivery over 2 days. Further, the workshop was designed to cater for a Malaysian context and focused on building the capacity of participants in understanding how social media works and how to leverage the power of social media to advance the causes that they and/or their CSOs champion.
In summary, having undergone this workshop, participants are duly expected to be have learnt to apply key knowledge and relevant considerations in efforts to:
- Develop an operational appreciation of effective campaigning on social media
- Understand social media strategies and core principles
- Plan a social media strategy to communicate to and convince audience
- Deploy a social media campaign
- Produce valuable and effective social media content
- Utilize Facebook advertising to support content and building social media communities
- Analyze social media campaign performance metrics
- Develop and position compelling content for social media
Participants were very enthusiastic throughout the 2-day workshop and even happily endured deferring of scheduled breaks and delayed lunch break times in order to accommodate the completion of each session’s content with allowance for questions and clarifications. Participants were all eager to learn and absorb the knowledge imparted by the trainers!
An analysis of participants’ event evaluation revealed that 97% of respondents were satisfied with the scope of content covered in the workshop, while 90% were satisfied with the depth of the content presented. 94% of respondents felt satisfied with the applicability of the content while 93% were satisfied with Ryan’s training material handout. From these statistics, we can infer that a significant majority of respondents were satisfied with the structure and content of the workshop and presumably benefited from their participation as intended.
“Two days seem not enough, in future, make it for 3 or 4 days.”
“Great speaker. Interesting presentation from both.”
“This is very very very good, would love to attend more of this. Probably other aspect of social media that could help us in our activism. Get Ryan to teach more. Also what more can Chak share.”
“Overall, very satisfied! Keep it up! I hope there will be next stage of this type of course.”
“Been an amazing 2 days. I now have tools to be much more effective in my work to come with effective, engaging, relevant advocacy to to make it count. Thank you so much!”
“I really enjoyed the content of this workshop. It gave me a framework to understand how to effectively use social media. Great workshop.”
“First timer at a Human Rights workshop! Everything looks good to me – the speaker, the staff here was very helpful, the strategic location. I’m grateful for this opportunity.”
“Great learning opportunity.”
“Enjoy and learn a lot from this fruitful workshop with two interesting speakers.”
While we received mostly positive feedback from participants, some did indicate the expectation or wish for more in-depth, hands-on training on strategizing, developing, implementing an actual social media campaign case study for an NGO, as well as the monitoring and analysis on the effectiveness of the same post implementation.
“Wish for more examples generated from social / non-profit content rather than commercial product.”
“Add one more day for hands-on.”
“Would have liked if training included (i) how to ensure security and privacy of organisational social media channels; (ii) how to set up a social media team within an organisation. Eg of team setup, workflow in effective social media terms in organisations, approval systems?”
“Sessions provide a good overview of the context, tools and skills, but more depth may be needed, eg focus on 1 or 2 tools which is more applicable to NGOs and walk us through it. Alternatively, potential future follow up programmes eg copywriting, basic designing etc.”
“Content could be better if more niche/specific towards context of NGOs working environment.”
“Overall it was very well planned. Areas to be improved are (i) to make it more relevant to the NGO context and (ii) to have more practical aspects to it. In that sense, the follow-up suggested is excellent.”
In this respect, participants indicated that they would like a further follow-up course with QED Consulting Pte Ltd on launching a prepared campaign and monitoring live analytics thereafter. They were, however, appreciative of Ryan’s offer to participants to time check in with him from time to time on issues or questions they may have on social media tools.
Recommendation to Take Forward
A follow-up practical training where the participants come prepared with a structured campaign materials and have those campaigns critiqued at a workshop, launched and monitored thereafter.
HAKAM thanks Ryan Lim, Jolyn Soo, Lau Chak Onn, as well as the American Bar Association for their efforts and support towards this workshop.
HAKAM also thanks all participants who gave up their weekend to attend this event, and thereby contributing to its success.
* For privacy reasons, we are only listing the 36 organisations (in no particular order) herein:
- Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights (MCCHR)
- Amnesty International Malaysia
- Sabah Disaster Response Network
- Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy
- Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
- The Malaysian Academic Movement (MOVE / GERAK)
- University Malaya Academic Staff Association (PKAUM)
- Dyslexia Association of Sarawak
- Third World Network
- Bantah TPPA
- Konsensus Malaysia
- Penang Research Center in Socio-Economy (PReCISE)
- Pusat KOMAS Sdn Bhd
- Sisters in Islam (SIS)
- BERSIH 2.0
- Democracy Academy of Malaysia
- PEKA Perak
- Women Association for Development & Innovation (WADI)
- Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
- Rakan Mantin
- LLG Cultural Development Centre Berhad
- Bar Council
- Bebas Anwar
- TH.Inc Academy
- PROHAM – Society for the Promotion of Human Rights
- Global Bersih
- Medico-Legal Society of Malaysia
- Association of Women Lawyers (AWL)
- Rainbow of Love
- QED Consulting Pte Ltd
- American Bar Association (ABA)
- HAKAM – National Human Rights Society
– Report dated 30 August 2016
To view more details on this event, please visit our post @ HAKAM Workshop: How to Leverage on Social Media for Impactful Social Change in Malaysia