If you are not familiar with reading such messages (full of "@" or "#") called tweets, then rest assured that our young social reporters at Fin4Ag are experts!
Some 25 young social media enthusiasts who love to tweet and share posts on social media make up the on-site Social Reporting Team (SRT) at Fin4Ag in Nairobi. Coming from Fiji, Guyana, Belize, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Benin, Senegal, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Kenya, Trinidad & Tobago, Madagascar, Burkina Faso, Papa New Guinea, Nigeria and Malawi, thEse young reporters were selected by CTA due to their interest in agriculture and rural development and social media skills.
Two days prior to the 'Revolutionising finance for agri-value chains'' (Fin4Ag14) conference, the young reporters received intensive training the use of social media tools like Twitter, YouTube, SlideShare, Flickr, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogging as well as Hootsuite. They were also briefed by experts on the topic of finance for agri-value chains.
As the engine of the reporting team, onsite social reporters produce daily blog posts on conference sessions, live tweets from plenary and parallel sessions. They also provide photos from the various sessions, record video interviews with speakers, participants and VIPs, and connect online with communities and groups as well.
In addition, a second big group of 460 remote social reporters support the on-site team in disseminating and sharing the messages of the Fin4Ag conference among their networks. Their role is not to retweet or repost but they too have specific responsibilities and reporting assignments.
The main objective of the social media team is to engage dialogue during the Fin4Ag conference; enabling direct and indirect stakeholders who are not physically present at the conference to be part of the debate at the conference proceedings and engage them in discussions.
The SRT has brought together youth from ACP countries and contributes to engaging them in the ongoing discussions on agriculture and rural development. This will strengthen their knowledge; build resilient networks among youth and their organisations in the area of financing for agriculture and value chains. It also shows them to use social media tool for advocacy purposes. Ultimately, the team provides commentary online buzz reporting on sessions audience participation.
And the experience of being part of the SRT is hugely positive. As Ritz Gosai, one of the members of last year's ICT4Ag conference SRT said on Facebook: "We set a standard in Rwanda [ICT4Ag] and reading some of the blogs... the team in Nairobi is amazing. Wish you guys all the best... do your jobs diligently... get the best out there to agri enthusiasts and beyond.
The Fin4Ag blog is the home base of the social reporting. All content produced from the conference events (session reports, interviews, discussions, presentations and papers) is published through the blog: http://blog.fin4ag.org/. The conference #tag is #FinAg14 to follow real time updates about the conference.
The coordinating team for the Fin4Ag social reporting mainly include: Ken Lohento, (ICT4D Programme Coordinator, CTA), Nawsheen Hosenally, (ICT4Ag Assistant, CTA) and Pier Andrea Pirani, (ICT4Ag Social Reporting Coordinator).
CTA's ARDYIS project aims to raise youth awareness and capacity on agricultural and rural development issues in Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries in the area of ICT.