GFAR blog

My social media “Aha! moment”…


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The #GCARD3 social media bootcampers

Are you a social media chicken or a social media eagle?

-Peter Casier, GFAR Social Media Coordinator

The use of social media is increasing at an astounding rate. But can social media be used beyond just socializing and connecting with friends? How good are you in social media?

Very seldom is this form of communication seen as powerful tools that can be used in the broader development space and agriculture research and development (ARD) in particular. This is even more true because using social media for impact requires mastering the art of doing it well. This piece shares my “Aha moments” as one of the trainees at the #GCARD3 social media boot camp with Peter Casier.

The chickens and eagles of social media

Peter Casier’s explanation of the difference between the social medial chickens and the social media eagles was very intriguing to me. The chickens “use social media as a goal”, they thrive on numbers and measuring the reach.

The eagles, on the other hand, “use social media to get to the higher goal”. They thrive on impact and the change they can bring about through social media. They put effort into mastering the art of using social media techniques to maintain the quality of the content generated. This requires better understanding of how the different tools work, and finding ways of creating order in the chaos by grouping them according to purpose.

For example, Peter Casier helped us see these tools in three clusters: 1)  For social networking the tool would include Facebook, Twitter, blogs, linked in etc; 2) For repository, the tool would include Flickr, Instagram, podcasting etc. 3) The are tool that enhances productivity such as Google drive, Drop box, Pinterest, and other related.

Where the power lies

Using social media as an alternative form of reporting at conferences is gaining momentum. At the GCARD3 conference for example, there were 70 social media trainees from more than 40 countries. Some were true social media chickens, with not a single social media account.

Overall, there were 90 social reporters doing live tweeting and blogging–creating a buzz on issues and sharing information instantly with many people around the world. This was like creating a small army of social reporters to develop a diversity of social media products within 3 days of the conference.

In the first two days of the #GCARD3 global event, we had a massive amount of tweets: a total of 4,542 live tweets were sent by 560 different contributors, delivered to 1.4 million (!) Twitter accounts

The boot camp not only moved us all from being social media chickens to social media eagles, but turned some of us into social media ‘super’ eagles.

Social media cannot solve all communication problems

“Do not use social media as a solution for all communications” warned Peter Casier. While social media has benefits, it should not be seen as a replacement for all other means of communication in organizations. But when you use social media, don’t forget the ‘social’ aspect of  ‘social media’: interaction with the online audience is crucial.

Challenged to think outside the box

Being part of the social media boot camp not only broadened the lens through which I see social media, but pushed me and others to try new things. It created a platform to learn from each other’s experience, get inspiration to be creative and think outside the box.

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As scientists, we need to relax and cast our nets wider because we crutch too much on conferences and publications for networking. Social media boot camp has made me realized that social media can afford me an even greater “catch” but a bit faster with a shift from the Nile to the Pacific without compromising on quality ” –

Lerato Matsaunyane – molecular biologist from Agricultural Research Council and #GCARD3 social media bootcamper

Want to learn more and be inspired? Check out these tutorials!


Blogpost and photo by Hlami Ngwenya, #GCARD3 Social Reporter – Hlamin(at)

This post is part of the live coverage during the #GCARD3 Global Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, 5-8 April 2016. This post is written by one of our social reporters, and represents the author’s views only.

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