Using social media to communicate on rural development issues

Last presenter in the first day of the 2011 KM Singapore event, Roxanna Samii from IFAD in Rome engaged the audience with an interesting presentation on how her organisation is using social media and harnessing its potential. Starting from her personal journey in the ‘social media realm’, she shed light on steps that brought IFAD to use different social media tools.

Roxanna explained that the main added value of social media for IFAD, as well as the other UN Rome based agencies, is to give their work more mileage. Agriculture and rural development are not very likely to make it to the front page as they are normally not considered as newsworthy issues. By using social media, not only IFAD can make these topics “heard and retwetted” but UN agencies at large can support more easily each other work and project a more unified message. Moreover, social media helps in blurring the boundaries of the different UN agencies and break down the institutional silos. Finally, it is also about using social media to connect with the younger generations: these are the future decision-makers of tomorrow and organisations such as IFAD need to engage them with positive messages and attitudes from today.

Among others, one specific example that Roxanna brought to the floor was the use of Twitter for promoting IFAD 2011 Rural Poverty Report. By posting links to it on Twitter, IFAD got an impressive amount of requests for this publication; quite simply, this is hard to happen when a document just sits on your website. In this case instead, the link to the report went viral, it was twitted and re-tweeted and this really made the difference. Put it in a different perspective, with a small investment you can get huge returns.