On March 24, Tweet for Cause Nepal (@tfcNepal) celebrated its first anniversary. tfcNepal is a small social media initiative for social change that aims to bring smiles on the faces of the underprivileged by providing them little support. In a year, the initiative succeeded in running five projects (a project = a support worth around Rs. 30,000), including one outside Kathmandu. The initiative is based on the donation provided by its self-declared members.
I am one of around 1,400 proud members of the initiative who provide occasional donation (any amount of my choice). And, it’s relatively successful in crowd-funding its projects and keeping things tied together.
The biggest challenge for any social media initiative is to covert the offline action into online action. tfcNepal is relatively successful in that area. According to my observation, the success of this particular initiative is based on particularity of the following phases:
- Setup: the first phase of any social media initiative is its setup. tfcNepal was conceived by four youths who on a particular day wondered how tweeting can contribute to the betterment of the society at the time when tweeting has been successful but mostly meaningless for greater good. They came up with an initial fund and an idea which they spread through social media inviting friends to join.
- Connections: the friends were invited who could not say no. Friends invited more friends, who thought let’s see. And, the community became big enough for them to think ‘wow, that’s great, now we can do something’.
- Trust-building: the connections on social media on based on trust. Friends are trustworthy, but when it’s a community of people in which many are unfamiliar with each other, it’s really difficult to build trust. tfcNepal developed trust among members through small gatherings (for example, evening gathering for a cup of tea). Most of such gatherings were informal and organized by one or other member to celebrate something or pass the time. New friendship and new bonds developed – and continued to grow.
- Offline action: offline action, no matter how difficult it is, is the most important aspect of the social media initiative because the members are there in anticipation of the offline action. tfcNepal’s each and every offline action was open to its member to join and participate.
- Discussions: tfcNepal’s projects are suggested by members. After each project and at official meeting, members reviewed past project and suggested new ideas, one of which was picked for the next project.
Why social media initiative works? My opinion is that it works because of collective ownership, willingness to contribute, engagement/participation and connection/community. tfcNepal somehow succeeded in fulfilling all those per-requirements. There is no formal structure of tfcNepal (such as executive body) thus the leadership is ‘distributed’ (many members won’t know who the four who came up with the idea were).
For each member, there are opportunities to participate – informal gatherings, meetings, projects, and online forums to remain engaged (Twitter and blog). All those opportunities are also good way to create connections (and many members are overwhelmed by the fact that they are making friends in such a diverse section). And, yes, the transparency in all affairs including financial transactions is really important!
tfcNepal’s future is uncertain – as many other social media initiatives. But the success so far is enough to begin other ‘setup’ and learn from the experience. However, I wish it would last long, long enough to create a legacy!
(Disclaimer: 1. I am one of the member of tfcNepal 2. This post is partly based on one of my earlier presentations.)