How To Use Social Media To #ShiftThePower (Part 1)

I love a good social media challenge. Especially when the challenge has to do with money, social justice, and movement building. So when Jenny Hodgson asked me to work with Global Fund For Community Foundations to develop a digital media strategy for their Global Summit on Community Philanthropy on Dec 1 & 2, 2016, I was thrilled! Getting social media tools into the hands of people that are driving change locally and internationally is something that I am deeply passionate about. Social media is a powerful tool which, if used correctly, can transform lives, communities, societies, countries, and indeed the world. It can be used to #ShiftThePower.

My role in this process, therefore, was to develop a social media strategy that complemented the overall Summit goals and translated their vision online. For the strategy to work, we had to take various factors into consideration, including understanding the social media habits and dynamics of the people and organizations who would be attending the Summit. It was clear that if we were going to get at least half of the 300+ summit participants to effectively use social media as a tool for advocacy, visibility, and movement building, we were going to have to start by making the case for it, and providing some basic and strategic guidelines. Just over a week prior to the Summit, Global Fund For Community Foundations published my guest blog “How Can We #ShiftThePower Using Social Media?” and sent it to all Summit delegates.


For a social media campaign which was launched on November 17th, 2016, with limited human resources, the results have been phenomenal, and the potential is huge. Prior to the summit, there were about 200 delegates who had twitter accounts, many of which were inactive. If we wanted to make this conversation global, we would need to get enough people on board. Have you ever been at an event or meeting and wondered, “I see other people tweeting, so is it even worth it for me to do it?” Absolutely! If it’s a message that you feel needs to be amplified, then your voice, your influence, and your audience matters. Everyone’s voice matters. Even if you have 10 followers on twitter, if you join and make a meaningful contribution to an existing conversation, you will be heard. Such was the case when @GlobalFundCF (Global Fund For Community Foundations)  hosted their first Twitter Chat on participatory grantmaking, titled “Who Calls The Shots?” on November 23rd, 2016 with Mama Cash and Dalia Association. 3 participants were using twitter for the very first time, and they engaged throughout the conversation. I was so touched, I wanted to send them a welcome package by the end! Check out the dynamic #ShiftThePower twitter chat storify by Dalia.


By day 2  of the Summit, more than 50% reported that they were actively using twitter. What’s more, with 901 users mentioning #ShiftThePower by noon on December 2nd, 2016, this meant that there were three times the number of people actively engaged in the conversation, than were physically present. In fact, with over 17.9 million impressions, from 6,870 twitter mentions, at the time, the hashtag reach went far beyond our projections. #ShiftThePower even trended on both days, in three countries – Kenya, South Africa and Canada. It was the number one trending topic in Canada! What did it take? (See more details in the next blog post)



That’s what happens when you find your tribe. For you to be effective on social media, you must first be clear about what your agenda is, then figure out who is/might be interested in it, find them, engage them, and make it easy for them to participate and make a meaningful contribution. Below are the guidelines I developed for the Summit, that can hopefully be adapted and applied to other social change, movement building agendas. What social media strategies/tips work for you in the work that you do? (Please comment, share, and let’s build our collective power to use social media for change.)


Global Philanthropy Summit Social Media Guidelines:

By Zawadi Nyong’o

Social media is about relationships. Like offline relationships, the value of your online relationships is based on the time you invest in building them. While many of us may not be able to spend hours on social media every day, if we are strategic about the time we do invest, the results can be huge and transformational. The trick is to find and build your tribe – the people and organizations that care about the issues you care about. Instead of blindly casting your net into the vast twitter ocean, for example, you can find and enter smaller rooms where people are having conversations that you can contribute to and influence. One way to do this is using hashtags.

Hashtags allow you to track what anyone, anywhere in the world is saying about a particular topic, in real time. By using #ShiftThePower, for example, it allows you to easily find and connect with other people who are using the same hashtag. While it may be difficult for one organization to be visible or make an impact on social media, the power of the collective is what amplifies voices for change. If influencing and transforming the field of philanthropy is your core business, then connecting with others who embrace or can support your agenda and theory of change, is both strategic and critical.

You do not have to be a social media guru, have a social media team, or even fully understand how twitter works in order to make a valuable contribution. What matters most is the content you share, the connections you make, and the voices you help amplify.  You do not even need to have hundreds or thousands of followers. In fact, even if you had 1 million followers, and none of them cared about what you talked about, you would not be able to effect the change you want to see. Think of a drum circle: no matter how many followers one organization has, if they are beating one big drum alone, they can only make so much noise. When we all beat our individual drums together, even if they are different sizes, and have different sounds, we are able to make beautiful loud music that others can both hear and appreciate. We ride off of each other’s energy, work in harmony, and draw others into our drum circle. That’s how a hashtag works – it pulls people into the conversation because they hear the sounds of the drumbeats, and want to know more. This is why we hope to use social media to #ShiftThePower before, during and long after the Global Summit.  

If you would like to help #ShiftThePower using social media, below are a few simple tips and guidelines for your consideration. The main social media platform we will be using for the Summit is Twitter. We are also on Instagram now as @GlobalFundCF, so please follow us for updates and tag us for reposts. Feel free to use the #ShiftThePower hashtag and share content on any of your social media platforms. (If you are not yet on twitter, but would like to, you can open an account in a few easy steps via . Here are some basic “Twitter For Beginner” guidelines)

Use the hashtag #ShiftThePower!


  • Since we are all in the business of shifting the power using sustainable philanthropy models, we can assume that most of what you tweet about is aligned with this agenda. We invite you to use the hashtag as often as you can in the next couple of weeks, and certainly during the Global Summit. Your voice matters, but if you are speaking to yourself, or to the same crowd you always speak to, then others who might be interested in hearing your stories but don’t know where to find you, can’t.
  • Global Fund For Community Foundations and our influencer ambassadors will retweet all your relevant tweets using the #ShiftThePower hashtag in the next few weeks.

Join & Build The Conversation:


  • When you use the hashtag, you enter, share, and shape the space around the conversation.
  • Click on or search the hashtag to find out what others are saying/sharing.
  • Contribute to the conversation by listening to and engaging with others.
  • Invite your friends, followers, partners, and networks to join the conversation. (You can mention/tag them individually, or send direct messages to those who follow you.)

    Amplify Voices:



  • Share other people’s content and credit them in your tweets. You can use URL shorteners like  if you need to.
  • Regularly check the hashtag and retweet valuable content to increase its reach. (When you retweet the twitter handle and original tweet appears on your timeline).
  • Quote other people’s tweets if you have an insight/comment to add, or if you think your social media influence will help amplify it even more and significantly increase the reach of the content.
  • Invite others who are tweeting about similar issues to check out and use #ShiftThePower to join the conversation.

    Build Your Tribe:



  • Find your tribe – We have created a twitter list of all the Summit Delegates. Please feel free to follow and connect with them.
  • Build your tribe – You can create your own twitter list by asking yourself who all the people or organizations are that you’d like to engage with to help #ShiftThePower in your own or global context.
  • Participate in the upcoming twitter chats , which will focus on more specific topics.  The chats will be a chance to learn, share knowledge, network and grow your circle.

Twitter 101:



Here are 10 tips and hacks that should help us all #ShiftThePower in a more strategic and effective way:

  • Content is always king! Share your best content. Don’t hold your best content until the Summit or any other event. You can always share good content repeatedly. Give your followers content that they’ll want to share/engage with. Ask yourself, “Would I retweet this if I didn’t work for this organization?”
  • Personify your twitter handle. People connect with people and not with institutions. Give your organization a human touch, define your voice, and remain consistent.
  • Create a list of at least 30 strategic partners and friends that are likely to share your content. Tweet (mention) them, share how you #ShiftThePower or let them know how you’d like them to help #ShiftThePower.
  • Use images in your tweets whenever possible, as images generate higher engagement and impressions. Tag up to 10 of your strategic partners in each tweet.
  • Create a list of at least 10 twitter influencers that follow you and send them a direct message asking them to support the #ShiftThePower campaign. If they agree, you can tag them in your tweets. These are your social influencer ambassadors.
  • Tag @globalfundcf for retweets or to request information.
  • Share @globalfundcf’s Calls-To-Action (Follow/Like our social media pages; join our twitter chats; engage with us via #ShiftThePower).
  • Use a social media management tool like  or  and create a column to track #ShiftThePower.
  • Create a list of at least 10 twitter influencers you would like to enroll in supporting your work. Begin to build relationships with them by engaging with their content first, and then sharing your content with them next.
  • Finally, if you’d like to take things to the next level, analyze your social media activity and grow. At least once a week (if possible once a day), check your twitter analytics to gauge how your tweets are performing based on number of impressions, engagements, and new followers gained. Learn from this information and insights to improve your strategy.

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