Publication Date
Publication Date: 
November 1, 2013

"There's no area of human life that hasn't been touched and reinvented by the digital age, and none more so than the rapid spread of information. As activists and advocates for your cause, you need to position your organisation to take advantage of these trends and use the right tools to give voice to your mission."

This ebook provides a practical guide to nonprofit organisations, particularly those based in South Africa, wanting to engage in the process of choosing social media platforms and developing an effective online media strategy. It is a publication of the Nonprofit Network, which is a resource centre supporting nonprofit organisations in their use of social media, websites, and e-newsletters. Made possible with the support of the Open Society Foundation's Public Health Programme: Health Media Initiative, the ebook provides an overview of a few popular social media channels in South Africa and how they work. It provides responses to nonprofit leaders' questions on whether they are wasting their time with online media. Then, the ebook provides an overview of some popular social networks, summarising the time needed for social media and the ways to approach crafting of an online media strategy. It also explains how to develop a content calendar for any nonprofit's web and social media work and provides ideas for creating social media policies and managing social media staff.

One example relates to the use of the tool Mxit (a free instant messaging application developed for cellphones) by Cell Life, a Cape Town, South Africa-based nonprofit that has made counselling services and health information accessible to South African youth infected and affected by HIV/AIDS. Through the "Mxit cares" platform, Cell Life's trained counsellors engage in confidential chats with youth in need. Cell Life's Red Chat zone's live mobile counselling initiative has provided assistance to more than 21,000 young people as of November 2013.

A concluding note is: "You need a good, established following before your campaign begins. It takes time to build up your community and get to know your supporters, and most importantly, turn them into your advocates. In working through this book, you should have an overview of the more popular social media channels in South Africa. You have worked through a basic online media strategy. You now understand how to manage your social media staff and develop content calendars. Now it is time to get started."

This ebook has been made possible with the support of the Open Society Foundation's Public Health Programme: Health Media Initiative. It is the first in a series of three (see "Related Summaries", below) for access.

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Email from Brett Davidson to The Communication Initiative on November 12 2013.