Four things International Youth Day Summit taught us about social media

Published on Thursday, 18 September 2014

Published by Chely Esguerra on Thursday, 18 September 2014

Written by Chely Esguerra

In recent years, the rise of social media has been ceaseless and rapid. It has managed to create a universe of its own—one that often leaves governments, organizations, and corporations alike continuously striving to keep up. 
 
In August, ADB’s NGO and Civil Society Center’s Youth Initiative team, in coordination with youth organization AIESEC, hosted an International Youth Day Summit. It aimed to recognize the value that youth brings to development and was headlined by the launch of ADB’s Great Expectations video series, a multimedia showcase  that presents the challenges that ADB developing member countries are facing through the perspective of the young.  
 
During the event, we finally enjoyed what is considered by social media professionals as a victory; our official hashtag #IYDS2014 trended for 4 hours in the Philippines, reaching Top 3 at the highest, sliding down and up ranks 4, 5, and 6.
 
This is not the first time that we invested a lot of  social media work on an event so we made sure to take notes. Here are some tips.
 
1: Make it easy
 
Riding along with the hashtag wave is initially fun. In our former activities, we fell into the trap of having too much of them. #Youth, #Asia, Youth4Asia, #AsianYouth – name it, we’ve put it down. Worse, we’ve asked our participants to use them all at the same time. We later on realized that this not only defeats the purpose of using hashtags, which is to allow people to join the conversation online, we also confused our community.
 
For International Youth Day, we made it easy for everyone by heavily promoting just one hashtag. This also takes less space in the 140-character count when using the social media platform Twitter. 
 
2: Create valuable content
 
In last year’s Skills Development Forum, some youth participants volunteered to be social media reporters.  The problem we had with this is it divided their attention between participating and tweeting. So we thought – why don’t we make ourselves responsible of preparing content that other people can learn from and share? 
 
So we did this in the next events: the civil society program at the Annual Meeting, Asian Youth Debates, and other youth events. We followed the speeches closely, and posted online what the speakers said seconds after they said it. 
 
For the International Youth Day Summit, we tweeted 100 soundbites – and upon reviewing the numbers, we had 447 retweets of these in less than 6 hours 
 
 
On social media sites, graphics tend to attract attention more than text. Throughout the event, we did our best to share as many quality photos as possible, and even created graphic cards. 
 
For the event, we chose 1 soundbyte per speaker and created quote graphics. We made it also in a square format so that the youth who are on Instagram don’t need to go through the extra effort of resizing to post.
 
3: Make it possible
 
It may seem simple but sometimes, the quality of the Internet connection is overlooked. There can be no social media participation if there is no stable Internet connection available. Thankfully this time we had that. 
 
Equally important, none of the dynamic social media presence we had for that day would have happened without the collaboration with AIESEC, the world’s largest youth-led organization. It was through our collaboration with AIESEC that more than 300 youth leaders from all over the Philippines gathered together to make the International Youth Day Summit happen. 
 
These youth representatives took the time and effort to participate in all the social media activities we had that day: livetweeting, posting their feedback on the Sustainable Development Goals in a dedicated Facebook album, and even joining the Thunderclap campaign, an online platform that blasts one message of support by a group of people at the same time. 
 
4: Build relationships online and offline
 
For the International Youth Day Summit and all our other events, what we truly gain is learning from all the interactions that take place, whether virtual or on the ground. Investing in nurturing these relationships has led to collaborative projects and learning exchanges. We’d like to think that beyond aiming to go viral or gaining likers, followers, retweets, and favorites, we are building a community.  
 
5. Take risks
 
The road to learning the first 4 points mentioned has been filled with numerous social media experiments. We couldn’t have achieved the coveted “trending” status without making mistakes along the way. Still, we persist with determination, keeping what works and letting go of what doesn’t. Social media, after all, is an evolving tool and must be approached with an innovative mindset.
 
How about you? Does your organization have social media best practices? We would love to learn from your experiences. Tweet us at @ADBYouth or message us on Facebook.com/ADBandNGOs.