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#TOC2014: A workshop for webmanagers from nonprofit organisations, with a twist

Jun 17th, 2014 | By

workshop for webmanagers

Online media is becoming increasingly important for any company, organisation or institute. If you don’t have an online presence, you don’t exist.

Social media, websites, online data repositories, intranets, mobile technologies- all make our “online publishing” diverse and exciting. Today’s fast-paced online technology in an interactive and inter-connected world also means that “the work is never finished.”

The drive for continuous competitive innovations, keeps many web managers and online technicians awake at night.

Web managers… We call them “TOCs”: “Technical Online Communicators”. But “TOCs” could just as well stand for “Technical Orphaned Communicators”, as they are indeed often the orphans of the online publishing world, falling between the communications folks who generate multimedia content and the IT managers who run the servers. Their tasks are often vaguely defined, and yet, they’re the ones who tie it all together and have to present a finished online product.

Since last year, a dynamic group of TOCS working for CGIAR and partners, got together in an online group, “the CGIAR Web Cafe”. This year, they organise their 2nd workshop, held in Rome (Italy) on September 15-19 2014, gathering web practitioners and external experts. The workshop itself is designed and facilitated by the participants, and follows a pretty unique workflow, turning my job as the coordinator more into that of a “master facilitator”, or “master agitator” as they’d like to call me..

Check out the workshop announcement. We are now taking for applications from nonprofit organisations.

A blog competition shows the power of social media

Feb 24th, 2014 | By
Nikki Pilania Chaudhary, the winner of our 'Special Prize from the Social Media Jury', receives her prize from Dr.Tony Simons (Director General, World Agroforestry Center)

Nikki Pilania Chaudhary, the winner of our ‘Special Prize from the Social Media Jury’,
receives her prize from Dr.Tony Simons (Director General, World Agroforestry Center)

In the run-up to the World Congress on Agroforestry (#WCA2014), we ran a blog competition. The purpose was to provide agroforestry researchers, practitioners, students and farmers a platform to showcase their projects on our blog. We also used this opportunity to encourage people to discover the power of blogging -and social media as a whole- as powerful online publishing and discussion tools. In the process, we also guided people into “the art of blogging”.

The online public could vote for each blog entry, and leave comments, stimulating online discussions on the topics our contest entrants blogged about.

In one month, we received 47 blogposts from 19 countries (India, Morocco, UK, Kenya, Indonesia, Comoros, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Moldova, Bolivia, Nigeria, Kyrgyzstan, Uganda, Canada, Nepal, Sweden, Eritrea, Vietnam and Switzerland).

These contest entries received a total of 23,991 online votes, and 2,262 comments, which was way beyond our expectation. This success showed how eager people were to publish and interact online.

It was also encouraging to see how many competition entrants told us, this was actually the first time they wrote a blogpost, and how they enjoyed discovering the ease of publishing and the speed in which the blogposts “traveled” through the online media. Many were surprised about the amount of people who read the entries: over 35,000 people.

Here are some excerpts we received from our competition entrants:

When I circulated information about my blog to the Agricultural Research Service Scientist forum of ICAR & Agricultural extension as well as Animal Nutrition Association, they got introduced for first time to the concept of Blogging. Some wish to write now. It may go viral!
I am happy to see, it is making some impact. (…) (Our) scientists were largely ignorant about this till today, despite good publicity made through different channels.

I am enjoying blogging!

(This) is a kind of game changer for me!! I’m inspired so much & wish many get inspired too! So, I have uploaded it on all of my networks! hope it would help many to think social media a bit more productively, like blogging!!

– Dr Mahesh Chander, Principal Scientist & Head, Division of Extension Education, Indian Veterinary Research Institute

The blog post competition is well received by all here at ICAR/NARS and I hope this will be trendsetter….

–Sridhar Gutam PhD, ARS, Patent Laws (NALSAR), IP & Biotech. (WIPO) – Senior scientist (Plant Physiology) Central Institute for Subtropical Horticulture

It was quite fun participating in this competition. Though I have lost all hopes of winning since I can check the number of votes other participants have got, (…) it was fun indeed, but I learnt so many new things in the process.

– Dr Sandeep Sehgal – Assistant Professor, Agroforestry, Sher-e-Kashmir University of agricultural Sciences and Technology

Check the original post on the #WCA2014 blog for the winners of our blog competition.

Picture courtesy Daniel Kapsoot (World Agroforestry Center)

The adventures of a reporter in Social Media Wonderland

Feb 22nd, 2014 | By
Social Reporters Induction course at #WCA2014

Social reporters induction course at the #WCA2014 conference

Someone once told me, we can do all the science we want, we can do all the agricultural research for development we want, unless if our findings get “out there”, the research is a useless spending of public funding.

And “getting it out there” is not just publishing in scientific journals, but “getting it out there” through open access, giving each and everyone access not only to our research findings, but also to the insights of our research process, inviting discussions already during the research process itself.

In that philosophy, social media plays an increasingly important role, as we have proven in our CGIAR research in the past years.

And this goes also for conferences like the World Congress on Agroforestry (#WCA2014): For us, the communications team, conferences are not a goal, they are a means. A means to advocate for our causes, a means to include of remote participants into the onsite discussions and presentations, and also a means to build capacity amongst participants, our partner organisations, and youth in the use of online media and social media, for science communications.

Core to the social media outreach at #WCA2014 was a group of 135 social reporters from all over the world. Around 110 social reporters supported us remotely, and 25 of them were onsite.

Fifteen social reporters followed a two-day social media induction course just prior to the Congress. Many of them came from the “traditional media”: the print media, radio or TV, and had little exposure to online media, leave alone, social media.

One of them is Beena Kharel who just started her new job as a Communication and Research Uptake ‘Specialist’ for The International Water Management Institute (IWMI) in Nepal

Coming from a traditional media and journalism background, Beena wrote a blogpost about her first “adventures in social media wonderland”, the challenge faced in using a plethora of social media tools, and the challenges to “communicate about science without being a scientist”.

Photo by Daniel Kapsoot (World Agroforestry Centre)

Join our #WCA2014 social media team!

Dec 16th, 2013 | By

social media app

Are you familiar with things like “Twitter”, “Facebook”, “blogging”, “vlogging”, “podcasting”,…? Join us!
Or if those words sound like gibberish to you, well… You are welcome too! :-)

Experienced social media users, professionals, volunteers, journalists as well as beginners are equally welcome in the social media team of the World Congress on Agroforestry (WCA2014) held in Delhi – India, on February 10-14 (2014)…

We are assembling a large team of social media volunteers to support the conference. The volunteers can participate either online, or at the event itself. We are offering a free two days’ social media training course for all onsite volunteers.

So join our online group of social media volunteers, or our onsite social reporting team!

Join our social reporters volunteering team:

This team is a mixture of professionals and young volunteers. Some work for the organisations participating in the WCA2014 and others work for our partners or other organisations. Most of our social reporters, though, are social media enthusiasts, who contribute to our social media outreach through their own networks.

Some of our volunteers are present at the forum itself, but most are supporting us remotely in various social media activities, ranging from writing or editing blogposts, uploading videos and pictures, spreading different content pieces via Twitter, Facebook,..

Our social reporters coordinate their activities via a Google Group discussion forum, and have already started their work for the event. Each contributes whatever they can into the discussions, dependent on their time availability, expertise and eagerness…

The real exciting part is “while doing, we learn”: having such a large and diverse social reporting team, gives us a wealth of experience, which allows our social reporters to learn from each other.

You don’t have to fulfill any criteria to be part of our social reporting team, other than being enthusiastic about our causes: agroforestry, forestry, agriculture, sustainable development, food security, natural research management, …

Even if you can’t come to the event itself, you can still participate online. You’ll be able to contribute to the group’s discussions, help with the social media outreach, or even report via one of our live webcasts!

Interested? Send our social media coordinator an email: Peter Casier – p.casier(at)cgiar(dot)org – and we’ll plug you into our team!

Join our onsite social reporters team, register for the free social media training!

If you are coming to the conference itself, we’re happy to integrate you into our social media team, reporting live from the Congress!

To help you prepare, we are giving a free social media training for all volunteers on Feb 8-9 at the WCA2014 venue.

The training will cover:

  • an overview of all social media tools,  and their use within a professional environment;
  • an overview of how to pull all these tools into a strategy;
  • hands-on introduction in two key tools we will use for social reporting at WCA2014: Twitter and blogging;

On Feb 9th, the training will conclude with a meeting of all onsite social reporting volunteers.

The training is free, and open to all social reporting volunteers (congress participants, students, scientists and staff from partners etc..).

Interested in joining our social reporting team? Email our social media coordinator: Peter Casier – p.casier(at)cgiar(dot)org and we will enlist you on our e-discussion group.
In your mail, please mark clearly if you want to participate in the training, as the number of seats is limited!

For more information just email Peter and he will be happy to assist you.

Picture courtesy: Jason A. Howie
Original post, published on the WorldAgroForestry blog

Social Media Boot Camp at COP19 – Now open for applications!

Jun 25th, 2013 | By

social media boot camp

Do you manage the social media outreach for a non-profit organisation? Interested in delving deeper into the use of social media and social reporting for nonprofit causes? Want to expand your social media network and contacts and learn how to organise social reporting from a major live event?

Then you might be interested in joining the COP19 Social Media Boot Camp organised by CGIAR (the Global Agricultural Research Partnership) at COP19, the UN Climate Change Conference (Warsaw-Poland, November 2013) in cooperation with The Global Landscapes Forum.


This boot camp is open for the key social media coordinators from non-profit organisations and institutes.

The boot camp will combine “the theory” with “the practice” of social media and social reporting, during a six-day hands-on training exercise. It will include:

  • A hands-on workshop covering a wide range of practical topics: from technical tools, strategy development to a train-the-trainers exercise.
  • Learning in practice how to organise and train a team of social reporters.
  • Two days of live exercise, organising and managing the social reporting of a major COP19 side event: the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF).

The COP19 Social Media Boot Camp program

The boot camp will be an extensive six days hands-on training program with the following components:

  • Part 1: Sept-Oct (online): Virtual preparation
    During this period, we will gather all participants into a virtual working group. This online team will collaboratively identify and refine the boot camp topics, sharing the moderation and facilitation tasks. This phase will be the virtual preparation of the actual boot camp.
  • Part 2: Nov 12-13-14 (Warsaw): 3 day intensive workshop

    • Overview of the social media tools constellation;
    • How to define an online media strategy;
    • Hands-on case studies of social media outreach, and outreach projects. Learn from those experiences;
    • In depth coverage of technical tools to manage and optimize social media outlets;
    • Social media metrics for “Return on Investment”, and measurement of reach and impact (statistics);
    • “The art of…”: in-depth and hands-on training on best practices for most social media tools e.g. “key ingredients for a good blogpost”, “How to increase my Twitter following”, “How to sculpt a good Facebook post”, “Optimizing YouTube videos and their reach”,…;
    • Social media reviews: in-depth analysis of the social media outreach for each participating organisation (tools and strategy), condensed in a series of “best practice” standards;
    • Overview of the new tools: Introduction of tools concentrating on “how can I use them best for my organisation?”;
    • Social media web clinic: peer-assist sessions to improve specific cases of social media outreach, tools and methods;
    • Train-the-trainers: How can I train people in social media? This will be put into practice in part 3-4;
    • Train-the-stakeholders: How can I involve stakeholders who “own the content” to create social media content or get involved in the content creation process;
    • Impact showcases: Practical examples of direct impact, and impact measurement for the core work we do;
    • How to organise social reporting from events: hands-on training on live reporting from conferences, webcasting and live online discussion moderation;
    • The participants will identify other topics during the preparation of the boot camp (part 1).
  • Part 3: Nov 15 (Warsaw): Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) Social Reporters training:
    A one day social reporting training, given by the boot camp participants, for the GLF social reporters. This is the practical part of the “train-the-trainers” program.
  • Part 4: Nov 16-17 (Warsaw): the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) social reporting:
    Two days hands-on social reporting from the GLF event. During this exercise, the boot camp participants will both guide the social reporters as well as generate social media content themselves (and be a social reporter themselves, for their own organisation).

Selection of the boot camp participants:

This Social Media boot camp is not for the faint of heart. To keep the group uniform in terms of experience and expertise, each participant has to respond to some basic selection criteria:

  1. Work for a non-profit organisation or an educational institute
  2. Manage a social media team or coordinate the social media outreach for an organisation
  3. Proven expertise/experience with at least five social media outlets
  4. Be able and willing to participate in the entire six day exercise, including the actual social reporting exercise at the GLF

Advantage for the participants and their organisations

  • Participating organisations’ social media coordinators will get a unique hands-on training with more tools they ever had access to before, combined in a way few have ever done before.
  • During the exercise, the social media coordinators will be able to generate content pertinent to their own organisation, from COP19. Through their own social media coordinators, each organisation will get fresh and original content for their websites and social media networks, and get significant visibility from COP19/GLF spin-off.
  • As this boot camp is organised in cooperation with the Global Landscapes Forum (GLF), the common cost for the logistics is kept to a minimum. As the GLF has a sound and extensive social media strategy and tool set, participants will be able to learn hands-on how to manage tools like online chat-discussions, webcast moderations, live tweeting,…
  • This is not only an excellent training opportunity but also allows key organisations to expand their social media networks and contacts through on-the-ground networking with like-minded organisations.

Our track record

In the past years, the CGIAR Consortium has worked extensively on integrating social media into its online outreach. We organised the online media outreach and the social reporting at major international events, such as COP18, the Africa AgKnowledge Sharefair, RIO+20, the Global Conference for Agricultural Research for Development and Planet Under Pressure. We used those opportunities not only to extend our own online networks by reaching out to other “Agriculture for Development” (AR4D/Ag4Dev) partners, and non-profit organisations, but also acted as “an enabler” to get all participating organisations networking amongst each other.

This workshop is organised in cooperation with The Global Landscapes Forum, coordinated by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) who organised major events at previous COP meetings, such as Forestday 6 and Agriculture, Landscapes and Livelihoods Day 5.

The cost and a call-for-applications:

This boot camp is a service offered by the CGIAR Consortium Shared Services team, and as such the cost for the facilitation, organisation and onsite logistics will be cost shared amongst the participants. With a minimum number of 15 participants, the cost (excluding travel, hotel, meals, and daily allowances) amounts to US$1,400/participant.

At this moment, we are taking initial applications. Please email applications to the boot camp facilitator: Peter Casier – p.casier(at)cgiar(dot)org. In your email, please specify the organisation/institute you work for, and your social media outlets/expertise.

Once we reach our quorum of the minimum 15 participants, we will confirm the final scheduling. At that point you will need to make your payment.

Original post courtesy CGIAR
Picture courtesy Sandra Caya

UNICEF puts social media into perspective

Jun 22nd, 2013 | By

UNICEF likes Facebook

UNICEF Sweden puts social media into perspective. In all the work we do with social media for nonprofit causes, we should never loose the perspective: Social media is not a goal, it is a means. A means to a greater end…

It is not the amount of Facebook Likes that will change the world. Nor the amount of Twitter followers, our blog visitors,…

Let us not lose that perspective…

Discovered via A View from The Cave

African conference on agricultural science looks for social media volunteers

Jun 21st, 2013 | By
idowu ejere

Idowu Ejere: How young people can inspire young people through social media…

“It isn’t where you came from,
its where you’re going that counts.”
—Ella Fitzgerald

Few young people raise to a position, early in their career, where they can inspire others and make a change. For those who do, even fewer dare to take the risk then, to stand up, and push for changes.

Idowu Okheren Ejere is one of those few. As a young Nigerian diplomat and researcher, she is presently the Communication and Public Awareness Officer at FARA. Given the opportunity to coordinate the media outreach at the upcoming Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW6), she took her task as an opportunity to use young people’s enthusiasm for social media, and pull them into the conference’s social reporting team.

One month before the conference, over 100 young professionals are now already part of this team, ceasing the conference as a way to learn new tools, and learning how to integrate these into their daily work.

This is a story how African youth can inspire people, when given the opportunity…

Meeting Idowu

Idowu holds a B.Sc in International Relations from Igbinedion University Nigeria, an M.A in Globalization and Development from the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), University of Sussex (UK). She is currently studying for a PhD in Development Studies at the Natural Resources Institute (NRI), University of Greenwich and an MSc Poverty Reduction at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). She also holds several professional certificates from Harvard University and China Agricultural University.

Her career spans the public and private sectors with a keen interest in the research on food security, resource management, conflicts, agrarian change and rural development.

Discovering the power of social media

As a born communicator, she held several social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogger, etc, but used them mostly for personal purposes until last year. In November 2012, she attended the Social Media Training in Uruguay under the auspices of GCARD2. Idowu says this was a turning point in her life as she realized the power of social media: How it could be used to preach the gospel of poverty reduction and food security. At GCARD2, she discovered how social media could foster the goal of Agricultural Research for Development (AR4D) and specifically how social media could be used to get the voices of millions of people across the globe heard in high level discourses.

Implementing social media at the AASW

After GCARD2, she was part of the Planning Committee for the 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW). She realized from the previous AASW that one of the challenges was “getting the message out to people outside the usual audiences”, including policy makers, young people and the general public.

With the upsurge in the use of mobile technologies in Africa came the use of social media. Today Facebook is the single largest -virtual- nation outside any country with over 500 million active users. Twitter and Myspace are doing just as well. This “virtual nation” cannot be underestimated in the current architecture of agriculture and food security discourses.

With this in mind she suggested to the FARA Secretariat Organizing Committee to invest in bringing a group of young social reporters to the AASW. They would be trained on social media tools and would report “live”, from the conference. This onsite team would be supported by a virtual team, from all over the world, who would remotely assist this group of “social reporters”.

As great minds think alike, FARA teamed up with CTA, GFAR, CGIAR and YPARD with the common goal to build the capacity of young people as a voice for the role of research in African agricultural development. This “Communication Partnership” culminated in the AASW social media team we have today. This would not have been possible without the support of Prof. Monty Jones of FARA, Dr. Michael Hailu and Mr. Sam Mikenga of CTA, Ms. Marina Cherbonnier of YPARD, Mr. Piers Bocock and Mrs. Enrica Porcari of CGIAR and Mr. Peter Casier.

The role of social media at the AASW

The world is changing and we need to have people from all ends of the world contribute to discourses that involve their future and well-being. Africa is no different, and the 6th Africa Agriculture Science Week is no different: At the conference, social media will create an avenue for those who are unable to participate physically at the science week. Social media will allow us to involve more people than merely those present at the conference venue, especially the youth who are easily overlooked in global development discourses.

In this way, social media would allow inclusion, participation and collaborations to achieve the conference’s goal of “Africa feeding Africa through science and innovation”.

Get involved!

The AASW social reporters team is a fast growing virtual team. With over 100 people in the group already, we are already virtually working together to learn the social media tools. way ahead of the conference. The AASW social reporters are now organising webinars and peer-assist sessions, coupling the “experts”, with those eager to learn more. At the same, the team is preparing the conference’s social media outreach via a Google Groups email discussion forum.

Do you want to join this virtual team? Send an email to p.casier(at)cgiar(dot)org, the AASW Social Media Coordinator and we’ll gladly integrate you in our group!

Original post was published on the AASW6 blog – Follow the conference via the #AASW6 Twitter tag, follow @FARAinfo on Twitter and on Facebook

BlogTips got a new layout

Mar 24th, 2013 | By
The old BlogTips layout

The old BlogTips layout

BlogTips is four years old. What originally started as a collection of posts on social media, grew to a mixed bag of 200 posts, covering a variety of topics. The old layout was a conventional blog setup of a chronological string of posts.

As time went by, and the amount of posts grew, it became more and more difficult for a visitor to find back relevant content. And in the end, I decided to “walk my talk”, and follow the criteria I set out myself in evaluating blogs: the whole setup had to changed.

As usual when one does a blog revamp, the issue was not so much which template to choose, a magazine theme was the most obvious. No, the challenge was more (as typical when you revamp a blog or a website): “How do I organise and structure my content for the best user experience.

Revamping this blog was on my mind for several months. I contemplated for quite a while “what content I had”, and “how to structure” this variety of topics. After re-structuring the posts into new categories, the actual revamp – switching from one template to another- was done in six hours: Insert new categories, switch themes, configure the theme, and check all posts for formatting issues.

This new layout, navigation and user experience is what I came up with. Is it finished? By jolly, it is not. A blog revamp is never finished, it is a continuous process. But I am pretty happy with the result. What do you think?

Google Reader: R.I.P.

Mar 15th, 2013 | By

Google Reader is dead

This might be the year where tons of free social media services get killed or skimmed. After Twitter killing Posterous as well as the Tweetdeck mobile apps (did you notice that the Tweetdeck blog runs on Posterous? Maybe we should tell them it is time to migrate!), it is now Google’s turn.

In a post titled “A second spring of cleaning“, Google announced:

We launched Google Reader in 2005 in an effort to make it easy for people to discover and keep tabs on their favorite websites. While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months.


Twitter kills Posterous

Feb 23rd, 2013 | By

Twitter kills Posterous

When micro-blogging giant Twitter bought mini-blogging Posterous last year, the news was received with mixed feelings. Early on, there were suspicions that Twitter was going to kill Posterous. For reasons unknown actually, as Posterous was not a Twitter, but rather a Tumblr competitor.

So 12 months down the road, Posterous’ death has been announced: As of April 30 2013, there will be nothing left of Posterous except a heap of burning ash, and thousands of frustrated ex-users.


Join our Online Media Workshop in Sri Lanka !

Jan 13th, 2013 | By

Online Media Workshop

I am holding a Social Media and Online Communications Workshop in Sri Lanka, Jan 28 – Feb 1 2013. This workshop is organised by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE).

As “Social Media” is all about “being social”, IWMI and WLE have graciously opened up the workshop to participants from other non-profit organisations.
There is no participation fee, but people will have to organise and pay for their own travel and lodging.

Here is the background of the workshop: