The one thing about social media, with Peter Casier
Peter’s visit at CIAT was timely. We were eager to make progress on the social media front. More than 80 participants participated in different hands-on sessions and seminars during three days.2 years have passed since Enrica Porcari came with Peter Ballantyne (now at ILRI) to participate in CIAT’s annual meeting 2009. With their help we did presentations on social media, and Triple A, and, more importantly, we started for the first time to use blogs, video, Flickr and slideshare in an integrated manner. This initial effort led the then new incoming DG Ruben Echeverria to sign a blog post that set the stage for our future work in knowledge management.
Since then we have probably taken “some steps forward” but also stagnated in some other areas. CIAT’s News blog is becoming better every day with highest quality stories and pictures, thanks to Neil Palmer and Nathan Russell. The News blog in Spanish is finding its own identity with stories relevant for a Spanish speaking audience in LAC. The DAPA blog is making progress in terms of number of blogs, number of bloggers, and cool content. The Capacity blog is consistent in its effort to document the initiative’s interventions and projects.
But where do we go from here? Three ideas have been discussed with our colleagues from the Communications unit. They are mentioned here, much more will follow on each of those.
- Develop a new Web site, based on social media and dynamic content: CIAT Communications and Capacity team are making progress in the concept and tools that we want to use. More on that soon.
- Get CIAT Programs to participate: We have already two new prospects for blogs. Capacity will continue its training efforts and offers mentoring and support for newcomers.
- Continue our work on Triple A: Enrica Porcari’s presentation was a good reminder of the key issues. We have to follow up and set some indicators to follow regularly.
At the end of his visit I asked Peter a set of questions:
What is the one big mistake related to blogging? Underestimate the effort it takes to get good content and to write it up. Scientists usually don’t write blogs, probably because they underestimate the value and the potential of social media. It’s a pity because there are stories under each table and chair! Another big and related mistake is that people, when they start on social media and blogs, they concentrate more on the design than on the content.
What is the one thing that you need to start with in social media? Define clearly what you try to achieve. Don’t shoot into the wild. Don’t let it become a goal in itself. It’s ok to learn by doing, specifically when it’s a project activity, but when it comes to the institutional part of the web presence, it should be well targeted and planned.
Share one secret of community building? The power is the network, just like the Fax number lists for Marketing people in the past. However, to build a community you need to be social in your media: Interact, retweet, engage in discussions, ask questions. Too many people and organizations use social media as a broadcast mechanism… people are shy but you only gain momentum if you do more than broadcasting. This is relatively easy and quick with Facebook and Twitter for example. It takes more time with blogging.
What is one thing that surprised you after spending 3 days at CIAT? CIAT is probably in the top5 of the CG centers using social media well. Once I got into CIAT, I saw how much potential there is to do more. There is a lot of virgin territory on the one hand and some projects that were active in the past and need to be reactivated.
What is the one piece of advice for CIAT’s future Web strategy? CIAT has to put it all together. Today the approach to CIAT’s Web presence is fragmented. It has to be a concerted effort. The blogs must be made much more visible. CIAT needs one large, active and dynamic entry point.
… and for the Capacity blog? The blog stands by itself with little propagation, i.e. through CIAT’s Twitter account. I think you could also link it closer to the content of CIAT’s work, specifically the role of capacity strengthening and knowledge management at CIAT and within CIAT’s projects and programs.
… and for the CGIAR community? There should be much more networking going on among CG centers. Is there a real interest in what is going on in other centers? I do observe a change in the trends, i.e. there are more retweets among centers, but still, much needs to be done.
Thank you Peter for a great energizing week at CIAT and thanks to the participants who made this happen.
Read also: Ideas to take away from the CGIAR communications and knowledge managers meeting and more on social media in this blog
Have a look at Peter Casier’s Blog tips blog
- Open access and open data: Three insights from the regional CGIAR implementation workshop
- Social Reporting: many voices building conversation
- Group facilitation: Experiences and lessons from international agricultural research organizations
- CIAT to coordinate communications, knowledge sharing and information & data management of the CGIAR Gender and Agriculture Research Network
- Paso inicial hacia una red de información en el FLAR