Follow Francisco and SM4CH on Twitter:
I never imagined the true impact that social media could have until I saw it in action e.g. when the Arab Spring happened. I realised that I needed to use this powerful tool to help others in countries like my own. This was especially encouraging now that I was far away from home, unable to serve the people of my country directly like I used to do while in high school. This led to the idea of using social media to teach democratic principles to people in both English and Spanish!
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The logic was simple. For instance, if I gave my roommate (a biology major) a textbook about democracy, human rights, freedom of speech, or any of the basic concepts essential for a responsible citizenship, it is more likely that the book will end up in a box or dusty old shelf than for him to read it. Instead, if I sent him a Facebook message saying “Dude, check out this video, it’s so awesome!” he would probably read the message and watch the video, maybe even like, comment or share it. If he really likes the video, he may decide to subscribe to the YouTube channel, like the owner’s Facebook page and follow him/her on twitter. If he does all of the above, it would be more likely that he shares the content within his circles.
Eureka! There it was. If I could create the type of social media content that is both educational and entertaining. If I could easily teach principles on various important issues in areas such as: entrepreneurship, environment, democracy, health etc. then I could make a big difference! At that moment Social Media for Change (SM4CH) was born!
At the One Young World Summit 2011 in Zurich, I spoke as a delegate in the Media Plenary. I shared my vision of “Social Media for Change,” with fellow youth leaders. I loved the fact that I was able to share my vision and that I was given the opportunity to inspire so many people. I ended my speech with the thought: “one young active person is powerful, but a generation of active people…I should say, One Young World united, is unstoppable!” I really believed we could use my project to powerfully unite and spread our causes all over the internet inspiring others to join us by reaching out to their own communities.
I still believe this can happen; maybe not immediately. Later at that Summit, I was introduced to the concept of social entrepreneurship. This led to my decision of turning my project into a social business. I didn’t have very much experience in the world of business, but I was determined to learn how to develop my vision into a success. I studied hard, bought necessary materials, signed up for online courses and spoke with mentors. To this day I have learned so much, and I can tell you now that the journey of a social entrepreneur is everything but easy! Yet I strongly believe that every challenge faced will be worth it in the end!
Our collaboration with One Young World:
In the Summer of 2012 I decided to make Social Media for change an official business. I filed the articles of incorporation to the Secretary of State to become a legal nonprofit corporation. We are working with two One Young World Ambassadors: Ricardo Amador from Nicaragua (on our board of Directors) and Danya Bashir from Libya (staff member). After getting Danya on board, we could work on Arabic communications in North Africa and the Middle East and so, we appointed her as the Middle East Regional Coordinator. Currently we are working on a proposal and strategic plan for how SM4CH’s can begin its work there.
Social Media for Change’s mission it to use popular social networks to spread our free, high-quality, engaging, entertaining and empowering videos, infographics, blogs and podcasts in multiple languages covering key areas in politics, entrepreneurship, leadership and environment.
Where we are now:
We are currently developing pilot series for a global approach, and one for a local approach as a market test. The globally focused pilot is about social entrepreneurship in the form of 4 of video-blogs and a Q&A session, complimented by weekly social content for follow up and engagement including: infographics, blogs, podcasts, and external sources. We really want to design SM4CH’s series in a structured and systematic manner. If the first global and local pilots are successful, we will improve and publicise them. The global approach will purpose to gain a widespread audience and gain brand and product exposure and feedback. The local approach will begin our specific local impact and lay ground for grassroots projects from SM4CH’s audience. We will then be able to replicate the model for other topics such as democracy, human rights, sustainability etc. and others specific to different regions.
The El Salvador pilot:
The local pilot is being produced in El Salvador by SM4CH’s Community Manager, who lives there. We have recruited 6 volunteers that have being doing research in universities and high schools to collect data the government does not have on youth unemployment. Based on these findings, we will do a series specific to the El Salvador reality of youth unemployment so that we can address the issue by teaching and helping youth to prepare professionally to be more competitive in the job market. In addition to this, we will present a proposal to the government to implement public policies that will help youth in getting their first jobs so they do not have to emigrate. If this pilot is successful, we will replicate it in Ecuador and Libya where we have other contacts who are able to address similar issues within their countries.
How can you get involved?
We are currently working on the development of these pilots and need volunteers to help us test them. We are also working on the establishment of financial sustainability for SM4CH and will soon be applying to the One Young World Social Business Accelerator. So, if you want to help us improve our organisation while getting experience on social business development, or if you want to help us test the pilots and be part of the product development process, please let me know. You can shoot me an email at [email protected]
Interested in our social business? Check out our executive summary
Like the SM4CH Facebook page
Visit SM4CH’s website