As a social media enthusiast and a daily internet user, one of the top questions I often go through is related to social media ROI (Return on Investment) and especially how you can measure it.Is it really possible to measure the ratio of money, time and resources on an investment in social media? Is it possible to assess the effect of a social media training on the life and work of alumni? How can they impact their communities and local areas? Can a blog be turned into a powerful tool for personal, organizational and community benefits?
To reply to all these questions I am quoting the example of Robert Kibaya, an alumnus of UNITAR social media for development course (Fall 2011 session) who ended up to be one of the finalists of CTA– Youth in Agriculture Blog Competition.Grown up in a rural region of Uganda, Robert has an intimate understanding of the problems facing poor rural communities in his country such as lack of access to information. Because of his personal experiences and interests, Robert established a NGO in his district called Kikwanda Rural Communities Development Organization (KIRUCODO) with the aim of empowering villagers through skills development and training. In 2011, he attended the social media for development course thanks to a sponsorship provided by CTA to participants from ACP countries. The skills he gained in the course helped him to set up his organization’s blog, Rural Africa Facts as an informal channel to expand his network of contacts in the community.
This blog is part of a comprehensive social media strategy including different web 2.0 tools to:
• fundraise schools based in poor rural areas,
• solicit equipment donation for skills development programmes,
• harvest rain water in rural communities,
• encourage social entrepreneurship,
• raise awareness about the importance of web 2.0 skills development in Ugandan local councils,
• offer communication solutions to local businesses, organizations and institutions.
A summary of results achieved by Robert until now is provided below:
• 3 schools and 1200 students received scholastic material (St. Henry’s Kakukulu Primary School Kasawo, Kikandwa Church of Uganda Primary School, Bulijjo Church of Uganda Primary School),
• 1 rain water harvesting tank built in Kikandwa village,
• 1 blog created by Makerere Master students,
• 1 Social Media Communication strategy created for a local NGO,
• 1 training course planned for Ugandan district councils,
• 1 Non-profit organization, “Communication without Borders”, registered together with 5 friends to deliver integrated communication solutions,
• About 50,000 online users reached on a weekly based trough various social networks and events social reporting.
This story provides us with an example of a well planned communication strategy leading to concrete results.
Robert has not only created a wider network of people interested in the empowerment of rural areas, but he is also using it as a storytelling tool to keep his community and donors updated in a transparent way.
As Robert says, “The information we access and share everyday can be of great benefit to us and those in our network only if we have the skills to transform them into opportunities.”