A few months back, I was involved in the Go Social Project of the Iligan Bloggers Society ( IBS ) as one of its resource person. Along with other IBS team members, digital marketing practitioners from other cities and local experts, I had the opportunity to mentor young entrepreneurs from Iligan, Cotabato, Cebu and Baguio . The Go Social Project is a capability building initiative funded by the Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF) of the United States Department of State and is designed to help young entrepreneurs grow their business by optimizing their social media marketing activities on Facebook.
When I was invited to join the Go Social Team, I felt that it is a perfect activity for me to give back to the community. As a practitioner, I was excited to share my knowledge on digital marketing but at the same time, I know that I will learn a lot from the participants. Each business is unique and the context is always different. So when I started listening to the challenges they encountered and presented possible solutions, I was also learning in the process. The ensuing discussions generated a lot of ideas and ultimately the participants chose a solution that is best suited for them.
The online mentoring that followed after the training is one of the major strength of the initiative. As the participants implemented their plans, they still have access to expert advise to guide them. On the part of the mentors, it gives them the opportunity to evaluate the implementation in relation to the plans and help the participants fine tune it if necessary. Although, I was a little bit disappointed that very few participated in the online mentoring phase but for those who did, they really got good results. This validates the importance of providing expert advice during implementation to increase success rate.
The impact of the Go Social project cannot be underestimated. Well, at least in the case of Iligan. IBS had the opportunity to introduce the project to the Provincial Director of DTI-Lanao del Norte and this eventually led to the launching of the SOMEO Program ( Social Media Optimization ) with the IBS core team as speakers and mentors. It was inspiring to hear the Provincial Director say ” We should have done this yesterday.” in appreciation of the value of the initiative to the MSME sector. The program is similar to the Go Social except that improvements to the content and methodology were already incorporated. To date, DTI have completed the first batch of trainees.
As current president of the IBS as well as the Co-Chair of the Iligan City ICT Council, the Go Social Project gave me insights on the value of tapping local experts for a project. When we get resource persons from the outside they bring in new knowledge and new ideas to the community but eventually they will leave. That’s why for me, it is very important to involve the local experts because the community will continue to have access to their services even after the project has long been completed.