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How Twitter is changing lives on the Cape Flats and beyond

Over the last two years Twitter had a very big impact on the lives of many in the RLabs community on the Cape Flats. The journey with this micro-blogging platform started in 2008 when a number of young men and women were introduced to Twitter for the first time by Rafiq Philips from Web Addicts fame. Most of this group were ex-drug addicts and ex-gang members who found Twitter to be an outlet where they can share their voices of Hope. In the beginning stages all the tweets were between the group encouraging one another and telling their stories of hope to the rest of their followers. What we saw was that the lives of those tweeting had a major transformation not just by the stories (See Video below) they were sharing but also having an impact offline. Instead of only using twitter as a news, media and sharing online tool it was also used as a gateway to positive messages that the group could disseminate offline with family, friends and wider community. These ex-gangsters were now calling themselves “Twitter Gangsters” also known as “Twitsters” even had the opportunity to share some of their stories at a World Bank event. One of the “Twitsters” (aka Brent Williams – no relation to Evan Williams) who was an ex-gang leader said he has more followers on Twitter than what he had when he was leading a notorious gang and he can now through Twitter leave positive footprints in the community.

It did not stop there, the group who were trained in using Twitter then started the Twitter School where they empowered women in the community to share their stories and encouraging one another. These Twitter Schools also moved into public areas where Social Media Surgeries were hosted to share twitter with community members.

This gave birth to the world’s FIRST Social Media Factory, where trained community members who are unemployed are given opportunities to create extra income through being part of a team managing social media strategies for businesses, organisations, schools and public figures. This meant that those organisations who are in need of having their Social Media Strategy being managed or outsourced not only get access to these services at very good prices but also the teams implementing these strategies will consist of a mix of experts and community members like our Twitsters and Twitter moms. Exciting when a housewife who have no other form of income can use her Twitter skills and manage the Twitter stream for an organisation via her mobile phone. She would then be rewarded for each tweet thus being able to make a basic living via the Social Media Factory system. No wonder one of these moms shared some insight to why she believe all women should be on twitter (See video below).

However what really got us excited was when we were able to give people in need access to our advice and support services via Twitter. This meant that access to LIVE support in the area of substance abuse, abuse, depression, stress and coping and debt counselling were now only a tweet or instant message away. These services extended beyond just the Cape Flats and reached the rest of Southern Africa.

Although most of the users accessing these services do so via Mobile IMs such as MXit the opportunity to reach wider audiences with Twitter has assisted us reaching close to 200,000 users to our mobile support services. The integration of Twitter with JamiiX gives us hope that we would be able to extend what we are doing to other parts of the world and changing it one tweet at a time….

Source: Technology For Community Empowerment

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With Social Media you C.A.N

Today RLabs offered Social Media training to C.A.N a new client in the Social Media Factory. Four representatives from C.A.N came to the RLabs space not knowing much about social media except for them each having their personal Facebook accounts.

By lunch the ladies from C.A.N were suffering information overload after receiving training on Blogging, Twitter and Fliesharing Sites (Youtube, Flickr). Over the next 3 months RLabs will be doing ongoing training with C.A.N empowering them with the use of social media.

RLabs developed a Social Media strategy based on requirements and expectations in collaboration with C.A.N. After a series of explorative sessions it was proposed that a ‘phased handover’ of social media strategy would be done for the organisation over a period of three months. Phased handover includes training to dedicated staff members to manage C.A.N Social Media strategy ensuring goals and objectives are met. You can follow C.A.N’s work on the following social networks: BlogTwitterFacebookzoopy and Flickr.

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Latest Social Media in numbers

Below is a guest blog post from RLabs (11 June 2010)…

AS we continue seeing the rise and growth of Social Media accross various industries, it is clear that we are seeing large volumes joining the bandwagon. Below we share some of the statistics proving that Social Media is still breaking ground. How long this will last will depend on how its being used by businesses, non-profit organisations, governments, communities and youth at large.

Facebook:

– It is estimated that Facebook has reached over 500million users.
– People spend over 500 billion minutes per month on Facebook and the average user is connected to 60 pages, groups and events
– More than 500,000 active applications are currently on the Facebook Platform
– Approximately 250 million users log into Facebook daily
– More than 100 million active users currently accessing the site via mobile technology.

Twitter:
– Twitter indicated that it has more than 190 million users tweeting with more than 65 million tweets a day. (South Africa has 55,000 active twitter users as indicated in a recent study.)
– The use of an open API ensures that 75% of Twitter traffic is generated from outside of twitter.com
– Approximately 65% of the world’s top 100 companies have a twitter account
– Twitter’s search engine gets more than 600 million queries a day. Monthly, this is proportionately more than Bing and Yahoo.
– There are more than 70,000 applications currently using Twitters API

MXit (South African based Mobile Social Network):
– More than 20 million users in South Africa growing at 4000 new users per day.
– Estimated 25 million users log into MXit daily
– Approximately 350 million messages are share via MXit per day.

The above is just an indication of how Social Media is still growing and being adopted by users hungry for sharing and engaging via the web and increasingly more so via mobile.

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South African Twitter usage

Guest Blog Post by Social Media Factory:

An excellent report by Fusenet have presented the Analysis and Demographics Of South African Twitter Usage. This report was based on Twitter data from March and April 2010.The report highlighted the following interesting findings in the table below:

For more interesting findings on South African twitter usage you can download the Fusenet report and it would be interesting to see the Twitter usage of other developing nations.

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Social Media for Business

Earlier this week the Rlabs team were again offering Social Media training, this time to the business sector targeting SMME’s. This is the first time the team offered training to the business sector. My slot for the training can be viewed in my previous post titled ‘Business going mobi

Below is a list of topics covered in the training program:

  • Background and benefits of Social Media for your business – Craig Ross
  • Develop a Social Media plan for your business (interactive session) – Brent Williams
  • Business going Mobi – Clinton Liederman
  • Social Media tools for your business
    • Twitter
    • Facebook fan page
    • Zoopy
    • Blogging

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Social Media Factory training with SCAT

Yesterday was an exciting day for the the RLabs team who did training under the umbrella of Social Media Factory with SCAT an NGO doing work nationally.

3 Representatives from SCAT were sent to RLabs for training in the following Social Media Tools: Social Media Strategy, Blogging, Filesharing, Micro-blogging (twitter) and Facebook fan pages.

Training Program

  • Intro to Social Media for non profits – Marlon Parker
  • Social Media Strategy – Marlon Parker
  • Blogging – Craig Ross
  • File sharing sites – Clinton Liederman
  • Twitter for SCAT – Brent Williams
  • Facebook fanpage – Clive – Marcus Evertse

The day went well and valuable information was shared that will help RLabs develop a tailor made Social Media Strategy for SCAT.

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Training the Trainers #2

As promised this the the follow up to my previous post titled: ‘Social Media: Training the Trainers’. This morning team RLabs were back at Silulo Ilutho Technologies on the second and final day of Training the Trainers.

The topis covered on Day 2 are listed below:

  • Micro-blogging (Twitter) by Brent Williams
  • File sharing sites by Clinton Liederman

Day 2 kicked off with the much anticipated Twitter session and Brent outdid himself with a well prepared presentation that knocked the socks off all in the room. He had everyone captivated and intrigued with some personal stories of how Twitter affected and changed his life. Well done Brent!

Clinton was up next with his presentation on Filesharing and shared some interesting stats about Youtube and Flickr but drew everybody’s attention to zoopy, a South African based file sharing site. After all ‘local is lekker!’ The second and final session of Day2 ended off with a short film written, produced and directed by members of the Rlabs team, oh and starring none other than Brent Williams. To view the short film click here.

Well done to the team on great planning but always flexible and ready for Murphy who always drops in unannounced.

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