Written by Mohamed Muse Hassan
What a life-changing experience it has been! I was the secretary of the Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences at SIMAD University, based in Mogadishu, Somalia, when the opportunity to take part in the Web 2.0 and social media training arose. My performance in this week-long training was one of the key factors in my promotion to deputy director of public relations at SIMAD University.
The training took place in September 2014 at the university and was hosted by SIMAD University and facilitated by the Training Centre in Communication (TCC), on behalf of CTA. The trainers ran CTA’s curriculum and during the week I was given a chance to showcase some of the Web 2.0 tools I had been using for teaching students at my university.
Thanks to CTA’s financial support, in March 2015 I also participated in the distance-learning course “Innovative Collaboration for Development (ICfD)” offered by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR), FAO and CTA. CTA offers this opportunity to would-be Web 2.0 and social media trainers in an effort to build capacity within host organisations to ensure adoption and replication of its curriculum. In fact this second course furthered my knowledge of Web 2.0 and social media and how best to use them.
Before the second course, I was a heavy user of social media and was aware of the potential impact it could have on my professional career. But to my surprise, this course proved that my experience was only focused on the tools aspect of Web 2.0, and to a lesser extent on other important dimensions. This is where this second course benefited me the most professionally.
Firstly, I have realised that the most important phase of using social media for development is preparation. What does this mean? It means a having a clear purpose and plan in hand before you even start using any of the Web 2.0 and social media tools available. Why post about your event on Facebook when you don’t know who your audience is? Furthermore, why use social media campaigns unless you can analyse their performance and effectiveness? These are two of the many questions that must be answered before you use social networking.
Secondly, the ‘simulated work-context’ approach of the course helped me to develop a social media strategy for SIMAD University. This strategy is now the main guiding tool we have for implementing our online marketing strategy. We are aware of who our major competitors are and who our major audiences are. We use different messages targeted to different audiences; also, we know the best time to post these audience-specific messages. In addition, we are aware of how to analyse the performance and effectiveness of our social media presence. Altogether, these are the operational phases of implementing a social media strategy.
Lastly, I have so many useful internet tools at my disposal because of this course. I know how to find and utilise platforms for collaborating, contributing and for aggregating content on the internet. It was such a practical course that listing all the applications and explaining them will be impossible in a one, short opinion article.
I hope many young people in developing countries will take advantage of this amazing combination of career-changing courses. And if you’re not convinced, I’m here to prove the value of this: I’m now the deputy director of public relations and information for my institution. I’m sure the courses can help you realise your career potential too.
Last but not least, SIMAD University now has strong in-house capacities and, with CTA’s assistance, is planning to offer CTA’s Web 2.0 and social media curriculum to train other actors along the agricultural value chain in Somalia.