By Melody Hossaini of InspirEngage.
Why is it important for us to be socially engaged, now more than ever? Well I remember sitting at our first family PC and thinking it was utterly incredible that you could put your own photo as a desktop background! Little did I know that today you can get a Facebook app that lets you share one final message after death. 3 trustees confirm your ‘passing’ and a final message will be posted to your wall! (I think it’s just as well I couldn’t envisage that when I was 9!)
The power of the Internet and evolution of online social media platforms has been remarkable, with my particular interest being amongst change makers and entrepreneurs. It’s clear to me that both are an integral part of life and business. Your actions online translate to your offline relationships. I was on a train recently, and the gentleman next to me kept looking over. In the end, he asked; “are you Melody from the Apprentice” (which by the way is now my official name!) and after I confirmed, he continued with, “what do you do? Oh wait, don’t you run a Social Enterprise training young people to be successful in employment and enterprise?” To my delighted astonishment I asked how he knew this, to which he replied; “I follow you on Twitter”.
As a Social Entrepreneur myself, I’m a keen Tweeter and Facebooker, and after appearing on a programme like The Apprentice, these networks truly provided me with an immediate platform that I could utilise as I saw fit. For my business, and me, straight away it was about expanding our reach to our beneficiaries (young people) and our colleagues in the field (youth sector), as well as potential clients who could benefit from our services.
I utilise our social engagement platforms to open up dialogue through every week holding a ‘Topical Tuesday’ debate where everyone is invited to debate on the topic of that week, let people know what we are up to and how they can get involved, as well as help promote young entrepreneurs’ businesses. For me, they are a creative space and it’s not hard to be innovative when there are so many fascinating people to connect with. Young people, especially, keep me coming back to my feeds all of the time! From executing business meetings to creating a new enterprise just after a few tweets, they continue to use these networks in novel ways.
For me, the web is a powerful tool encouraging leadership amongst young people. They no longer need to rely on someone lending them a platform to have their voices heard, but instead can create their own extremely influential platforms promoting their causes, opinions or enterprises. And how do you do that? In my experience, interaction is key. If people can see that you value their engagement and can offer them useful benefits (knowledge sharing, tips, giveaways etc), then they’ll engage with you.
Melody Hossaini is CEO of InspirEngage and has reached over a million young people in over 100 countries. InspirEngage aims to improve the lives of children and young people through unique Skills Development Bootcamps. Melody is one of the leading youth sector figures in the UK and was a candidate of BBC 1’s ‘The Apprentice in 2011.