I arrived in Tanzania on Monday night, and today is my first day at the NGO where I will be working and researching for the next three months. So far, so good, although I am regretting not learning more Swahili before I left.
As I have previously written, my main research project is going to centre around government transparency and accountability. More specifically, I am going to be looking at public expenditure tracking surveys (PETS) and considering whether hard law mechanisms are necessary to ensure success, or whether soft law mechanisms are more appropriate. The plan is still a bit up in the air, but I am intentionally being flexible so that I can tailor my research to the organisation’s needs and overall mission.
In the meantime, I have met with one of my colleagues to discuss my work plan for the next month or so. As usual, I have committed myself to several tasks simultaneously. I am updating the website, creating a database for donor information, and creating a social media strategy.
I am currently working on the social media strategy, which is an interesting task for me as I have never actually written one before, despite being a regular social media user both personally and professionally. I suppose I never felt the need to write one when I worked as a school librarian as I was a solo librarian. I also admit that the idea of a social media strategy seemed like the sort of thing an over-priced management consultant would suggest. I didn’t really see the point in writing yet another strategic plan when I could just experiment with new tools and decide whether they were appropriate for my community’s needs.
After just one day in the NGO and doing some preliminary research on social media strategies, however, I can now see the benefits. The NGO actually already has Facebook and LinkedIn accounts, but hardly ever uses them. They are interested in using them more, but know that they need to make more of a commitment to doing so. I also know that some organisations tend to use social media simply as a cheap form of advertising, rather than as a tool for communication and relationship-building. In the strategic plan, I am addressing this issue and making sure that I discuss all of the potential benefits of social media with regards to professional development. The organisation is very under-resourced, so I hope that using social media more effectively will allow them to work with and learn from others more easily.