Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) organises an annual awards event called Social Media for Empowerment South Asia as part of its Knowledge Network & Database programmatic area. This year’s awards function is likely to be held early next year for the simple reason that DEF has tied-up with Friedrich Naumann Foundation to organize a series of workshops as a build up to the awards function to spread awareness about how people in smaller towns (Tier II and III cities) can harness the power of social media as a tool for promotion, networking and marketing and tap all available opportunities. During November, two such workshops were organized in Chamba, Tehri Garhwal district, Uttarakhand and Pondicherry on the 2nd and 7th of the month respectively. Such workshops were held in these towns for the first time ever.
Close to hundred people attended the workshop in Chamba. They were representatives of NGOs, media persons, students and young entrepreneurs. The enthusiasm and excitement was palpable in the room to learn about digital content, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Suddenly, a surge of energy could be felt that overwhelmed the hearts and minds of everybody. The women especially lapped up social media which they believed has the potential of giving them the voice that has long eluded them. The NGOs and media persons found a way to address infrastructural, social and political concerns effectively. They all went out in groups as an exercise to test and practice the skills on digital content creation and then posting them on social media. A productive day came to an end with the selection of two social media agents who would take forward the initiative started by the workshop.
In Pondicherry, DEF empowered the fishermen community. Learning how to keep in touch with others within their own fishermen community and the world at large via Twitter and Facebook and also sharing pictures on Instagram was most useful for them. The fishermen decided to create their own small community on Facebook so that they could have regular updates regarding weather and markets amongst each other.
Moreover, people from all across the world converged on Pondicherry to explore and discover themselves. Hence, the city is a melting pot of young entrepreneurs who are pursuing innovative ventures. And they are more than keen to harness the power of social media for promotion, networking and marketing.
The day long SM4E workshop was attended by over 90 social media enthusiasts consisting of young entrepreneurs, NGOs, self-help groups, fishermen communities and students. They grabbed this opportunity with great gusto and expressed immense desire to have more such workshops. The successful workshop ended with a social media campaign called #ignitetheyoung to address critical gaps in primary education in the region. Three social media agents were appointed to execute the campaign and take the vision and mission of social media workshop forward.