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PRMR Inc. Communications Blog

Why NGOs in the Caribbean should embrace social media?

Posted by admin admin on Aug 26, 2011 11:22:17 AM

Having spent the better part of my Saturday developing my professional skills learning the intricacies of websites and networking; in one more week (if I pass the test) I will be a CIW (Certified Internet Web Professional) Site Development Associate. This means I will be competent in building basic websites.

My belief is that as a business professional it is important to become familiar with online/social media tools as much as possible. Online media is the wave of the future and it has changed the way we will communicate forever.

Today’s blog is about encouraging all business professionals specifically those in non-governmental organisations to use social media. Some NGOs around the world and especially in the Caribbean, do not yet have the benefit of a PR professional to do their promotions for them.

Most of these organisation’s budgets have to be dedicated to ensuring that their projects or programmes can be effectively carried out. As a result, they cannot commit the same type of funding towards promotions. However, they must still focus on engaging the public in order to fulfill their obligations to their sponsors and to the community in which they work.

Where traditional forms of media have failed to provide sufficient coverage for their campaigns, social media is able to connect the programmes/causes of these NGOs with the public. Millions of people around the world use the Internet to gain and share knowledge, to do business, as well as to interact with their families and friends.

For years, several international NGOs such as Greenpeace and Amnesty International have used social media to advocate their causes.

350.org is a good example of an NGO, which utilised social media in a very effective way. This organisation’s projects and programmes are focused on advocating on environmental issues related to global warming. In 2009, they used social media to link young people around the world who were engaging the public and the political directorate on dealing with the issue of global warming. Youth and environmental organisations from around the world used Flickr, Facebook and Twitter to share photos, videos and messages on how climate change was affecting their country.

Over 40 million people in the Caribbean use the Internet, to shop, exchange ideas and to interact with each other. Private sector businesses in the region have recognized the benefits of social media, but NGOs who should be the main supporters of these tools have been slow in using this available resource. In truth, many regional NGOs have developed very basic web sites but very few NGOs have discovered the beauty of other online media. A world of blogs, Facebook, Twitter and a host of free social media tools await the willing NGO manager.

Social media is the new way to communicate its about Fans, Followers and Friends but its mostly about building a community that you can reach instantly and inexpensively. Social media is an ART – Actions, Reactions and Transactions. It moves beyond a one-way form of communication to one, which allows for direct interaction with the public.

It’s low-cost, effective, easily measurable and has a captive audience. Wake up Caribbean NGOs, its time to jump on the social media train.

See the below link to a blog on how NGOs can use social media to achieve organizational goals:

http://blog.thoughtpick.com/2009/08/social-media-ngo-crossing-boundaries-building-bridges.html

http://mashable.com/2010/09/19/chris-hughes-interview/

Topics: 350.org, Bridgetown, greenpeace, cicil society, caribbean, amnesty international, blog, Perspectives, ngo, technolofy'