Written by Marina Cherbonnier (YPARD)
I was rather delighted to head to my session with, fresh in mind, one of the last advices from the « Communities of Practice clinic» that I was just leaving:
« First of all, launch informal discussions with people you envisage as beneficiaries of your community of practice and simply ask them what they want and need! »
I was going towards the good direction!
Presenting YPARD’s agricultural online events for giving a voice to our Young Professionals’ community… that’s what it was about…
but it was even more about launching an interactive discussion, with the people attending the session, on how to get more youth involved in (YPARD) online events*.
Let me jump into the conclusions:
Strengthen your social media strategy, your partnerships and your promotion
This was the conclusion of a previous discussion on the same topic in a previous share fair. How concretely apply this?
- Express and promote what Young Professionals (can) gain from participating to YPARD online events**. Give concrete examples of the advantages that some previous participants got from it. Brand it as « success stories ».
- Address challenges such as shyness to contribute, lack of confidence of young professionals (« My opinion is not relevant »), cultural tradition of the youth to keep silent as a respect to older people. How to Answer this? Show to the youth that you (community manager or whatever is your name), you are here for them as a supporter, an advisor and ready to help and assist them technically such as on the content itself.
- Link YPARD representatives in the different regions and countries to the rest of the community more, so that the WHOLE community feels engaged in the movement. YPARD members are not simple followers but have each a role to play! Do you hear the key word “ownership” resonating loudly here? ( -note : YPARD is a worldwilde and decentralized movement -)
- Use local and national newspapers, media and organisations to promote the online events as much as it can be!
Solicit content / subjects of interest
- Encourage young professionals or supporters of youth’s cause to talk about local projects or local strategic decisions. Why ? I guess I don’t need to recall how much this is valuable as “food for thoughts”. Let me rather highlight that:
- People like to learn about on-the-ground experience by individuals; people like to be told stories in which they can possibly identify themselves or recognize some elements from their own experience.
- We only require young professionals to talk about their own experience in the simplest way they can… There shouldn’t be any fear of being « wrong » in telling their story. What do they know more than their daily life and reality?
- Make sure that the individuals’ testimonies are combined to a person’s profile and a picture. It makes the thing much more personal and friendly!
- Get conversations' key leaders for moderating the e-discussions. It enables to orient discussions into deeper considerations. These leaders could possibly be some specialists and recognized people. This gives more credibility to the discussions.
Provide attractive types of events
Blogs and discussions are most appreciated if there is a way for the contributor to see the number of views, to have his/her post “liked” and shared, to receive comments.
- Pictures and videos attract more people, particularly the ones who are not sensitized to agriculture. It is indeed livelier, more fun and it humanizes concepts, projects, policies and evaluations.
- The idea of developing contests has been emphasized as very appealing for young professionals. Being in competition and winning a price gets the things exciting. Why not get the opportunity to attend a conference or a forum and represent the movement created online on specific topics?
- Video contests while they could seem quite time consuming for participants could be proposed in a way that only short interviews, snapshots of Young Professionals, series of few pictures are required.
- E-conferences are much appreciated. Being able to follow a session through streaming while carrying on with some task in the office is seen as very convenient. Being able to contribute through social media on live is also very engaging.
Should we create a “free zone” on YPARD Website for Young Professionals to express themselves simply the way they want it, with text, pictures, videos, SONGS, drawings etc etc?… I am starting imagining a fresco similar to Nancy White’s drawings… A big one, where the whole community would have putted its pieces… There would be some sound as background and animated shots embedded… It looks good from here… Let’s push the thoughts and actions further…
It was a small session but with high and thoughtful participation! I thank once again the participants! Others, your comments are most welcome!
* Online events can be series of blogs, e-discussions, e-consultations, e-conferences, pictures galleries/exhibitions, video contests… songs contests, drawing exhibition etc etc…
** Benefits from contributing to YPARD online events: Learn from others and get inspired from their experience, create a strong network with your peers, “experienced professionals” and partners organisations, gain visibility, gain credibility and get a voice as an individual and as a community of youth; have your say on strategic and political level; get YPARD be the echo of your issues in strategic debates and furthermore get strategic decisions be in phase with what impact you!
Contact: Marina Cherbonnier, YPARD (Young Professionals’ Platform for Agricultural Research for Development) Marina.firstname.lastname@example.org