social media trainer

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An NGO’s social media channels are quickly turning into assets for these NGOs who are looking for media coverage, funding, partnerships…well pretty much any NGO. And while by now most of them realize that, they are also feeling overwhelmed on how to harness its powers with having so many of them – social networks.

Though its not easy, this Hack Sheet created for NGOs should be helpful. Initially this presentation was created as a talk for @Social Media’s PACE innovation fair that intended to bring together NGOs, Journalists, the Media, Digital Marketers and Digital Firms all under one roof in order to act as an enabler for social change. And while it is hard to explain in just 7 minutes (not that it will be easier in hours) on how to use each social network, there are key aspects to consider while building your social media strategy:

1. How long will your post “Live”?
Your clever tweet will only be seen by people in the next 2-3 minutes after posting it as ones feeds refreshes quite quickly, but a facebook post may live on he newsfeed organically for 2-3 hours, and even longer if promoted.

2. Who is you target audience on the platform?
Facebook is definitely your hub for the masses, but linked in may be a good hub for you as an NGO to find journalists, human capital, granting organizations and network with other NGOs and the community around your NGO cause.

3. Your content!
140 characters work on twitter but you need much more to grab the attention of people during their scrolling coma in their facebook newsfeed and that is why you need to use images and interesting visuals.

4. Each hub has something special you can utilize to give you more visibility.  In Facebook you can promote a post through facebook ads to get it seen by millions, on twitter and instagram the clever use of a hashtag may give you the needed exposure and on youtube using proper descriptions and keywords will make your video ‘findable’ long after its posted.

And last but not least do not feel like you have to use all social networks or every single feature of every social network: Use what you need and what you have time for!

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whatsapp use in lebanon by darine

Social Media and tech gizmos have seeped into every aspect of our lives. In this column Darine curates the curious and funny anecdotes on how these new media have transformed day to day interactions. Share your own stories with her on twitter on @sdarine #SMLaughs or email

My mother in law got her first smartphone 3 months ago, before she only used skype to talk to her daughter in australia via PC and now, whenever she’s visiting I can hear notifications beeping on her phone every few seconds. She gets several viber calls during the day too from her neighbours, all of whom are also ladies in their 50s-60s who just got phones “with internet” from children who want to stay in touch with them. But whatsapp is her main passion! Though my MIL is clueless about downloading apps, what facebook is and any other functions of the iphone she rocks whatsapp like no other. She changes her status and profile pitcure several times a day and asks us to send her fresh photos of our baby for that purpose solely. You’d think that she’s alone in that, but as soon as she changes a photo she gets comments and calls regarding it.And I will never forget the day when my sister in law got her Australian passport, as my mother in law directly placed it as her profile pic on whatsapp getting an angry phone call from her daughter minutes later explaining what identity theft is and how it happens.

Whatsapp is also her constant shopping pal. Whenever she wants to buy something for us, she whatsapps us images and the same applies if someone is buying anything for her. I can only sum up her addiction by saying that she does not understand if I do not buy a certain item of grocery and tell her I did not know she needed it to which she always replies:” But I whatsapped you!”

I take a cab and tell him to drive me to Caracalla Theater in Sin El Fil, he does not know the place. I tell him to just drive to Sin El Fil and we will figure it out. He seems me fiddling with my phone and has this wide eyed bright look in his eyes suddenly. “Let them whatsapp you the map!”, he says.

Virgin Radio understands how expensive the telecom is in Lebanon and that with Facebook and Twitter they simply can’t get the people’s private info in real time. So they are cleverly using Whatsapp instead of SMS to get listeners to contact them for free on their various shows and participate in competitions, or as they put it “Why should you pay to contact us?”. And let us not forget the various shops and bakeries and even taxi services that are willing to do deliveries based on whatsapp orders.

It became clear to me that whatsapp is email for the masses when I was at our Moukhtar’s trying to find out how to word a certain legal document. Obviously the most advanced piece of tech at the Moukhtar’s is a photocopying machine, he still uses an old Nokia phone. And yet, a quick call to “eben 3ammo” who is a lawyer and he tells me “he’ll whatsapp you the exact text” while I was expecting him to dictate, fax or sms it.

A great snap by @whallab illustrates a mini-bus circling Beirut with this funny message to reckless drivers who have one hand on their smart phone at all times.

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instagram lebanon cloud 961 darine sabbagh

There’s no need to introduce the social network that nurtures ones addiction to sharing life around you and can send one into hours-long scrolling stupors. Nevertheless, a few brands in Lebanon are committed to making it a core channel within their social media presence. Let’s find out why you are losing out if your brand is not on instagram yet:

1.       The square is the new “it” format.

Have you noticed how the square is the perfect format to:

-          View anything on any screen with any resolution

-          Ensure your message always remains on top of the fold on any screen

-          Post something facebook. Any photo post is automatically summed up on your timeline as a square.

Within the past year, the square has become the new standard format for images around the web and even in real life, all thanks to instagram. This is the best proof of how viral the platform is.

2.       It all looks good if its been “insta-ed”

You do not need to hire a professional photographer to shoot your products, because when it comes to social media, you do not need high res images, you need appealing images. And this is what anyone, with basic point and click skills and some eye on which filter to apply and where to blurr and crop can do. The outcome is always great photos that grab people’s attention in their timeline feeds due to their good balance of candid content/grabbing visuals with a professional feel. And this is exactly what people are after, no one trusts these photoshoot photos anymore, because we have all been burned by how different a Big Mac looks to that in the ad. With instagram your audience knows that its seeing your products as is.

 Even with its limited range of filters, you can also use many more insta-compatible apps that allow you to create collages, get extra filters, frames and much more and then share it all around the world.

3.       Capitalize on crowd-sourced content

Let us face it, although social media is free, creating great shareable and visually appealing content for social media is not – it is hard work. If you have a great product though,  your customers/clients will makeyour life easier with their instagram presence.  Just learn some simple intagram search techniques, encourage your clients to tag you in posts and  you would be surprised by how much amazing photos are created with the help of instagram’s amazing filters that have the ability to make anything “sexy”. And an added bonus for sharing instagram photos of your brand’s users is the embedded brand credibility that you get.


4.       Get maximum visibility for your posts.

Instagram is the platform where everyone is equal, so far. Your posts on instagram are not under the mercy of facebook’s edge rank just yet and everything you post gets seen. A post on average has the lifetime of at least 24 hours (depending on how far back your followers can scroll back into their feeds), on twitter it is less than 10  minutes and on facebook its hard to get seen by your fans without ads . And if you add the right hashtags to your posts, they quickly garner likes and get you new followers.

5.       People still have the passion to follow and interact with brands.

Instagram users are users who like to be visually stimulated.  They love content! If they find you sharing interesting visuals, especially around food and style, then you are set for success. What can get you more followers as well, is following people who are potentially interested in your products, liking their posts and using the right hashtags to make your content discoverable.

6.       The users are your target customers

You must keep in mind users of instagram by default are:

  • A young demographic
  • Middle to upper class
  • Smart phone users
  • Have an internet data packet on their phone
  • Are open to conversations about their life, the brands they like, the things they do…
  • People with an active social life
  • People with some sort of a visual perception

Now don’t tell me these aren’t people that you would like to see buying your product. What is more, a few hours of search within the hashtag/geotag land and you can narrow down the exact people you are interested in and follow them, hoping they will follow you back.

7.       The ultimate “big brother tool”

With Instagram you have the real privilege to see how people are using your products, when are they using it and with what sort of sentiment and nothing can be better than that for a brand. It’s distilled consumer insights that brands pay a million dollars to know about. And by simply following back the people that mention your brand in their hashtags you can discover their world. You can learn what sort of things, brands and places they like and be part of their day to day lives.

8.       The best free competition platform for photo competitions

In case you have not noticed, people on facebook are not into downloading photos to win competitions anymore. But its all different when it comes to instagram. If you are an instagram user you are someone who craves to create content for your followers and you would love to post some meaningful and creative image on instagram, hashtag it and wait for these likes and comments to pour in.  This user behavior is what makes instagram competitions so sticky. Also don’t forget, so far the platform does not have any restrictions for brands or competition rules, so your brand is bound by your creativity and the creativity ofyour users. One more bonus is that cheating is also not “in” in instagram competitions yet.

9.       It’s integrated all round.

Whenever you post something on instagram, you can automatically add that content to your brand’s facebook page (limited to iOS users for now), twitter, flickr, and foursquare, saving you time while posting and improving your brand’s online footprint.

10.   It’s facebook new adopted child

I don’t believe this requires a comment! ;)

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Everyone has a story to tell when it comes to how we got into working in social media. If you are interested in my story you can now check an abridged version of it on Media ME by following this link.

Was your social media journey similar?


social media consultant and trainer lebanon

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