When it comes to the benefits of social media, Kajsa Hallberg Adu will know all about it. She and her co-founder started Ghana’s biggest network for social media enthusiasts BloggingGhana using social media.
As a blogger of 10 years and a lecturer of Communication and Politics at Ghana’s only liberal arts college Ashesi University, Kajsa knows the importance of the various mediums of communication. She also knows that we should take advantage of the technological world we live in to reach our ultimate goal.
Kajsa Hallberg Adu believes social media is revolutionary and everyone who wants to get somewhere should get on this fast speeding train. As an advocate for taking online friendships offline, Kajsa tells us the reasons why and the processes we need to undergo to benefit from these friendships.
How has social media impacted your life and work?
Where do I start? Social media has shaped my life and made it so much richer and more interesting. Initially, I was very tech-suspicious, I was the last to have a cell phone among my friends. I held on to analogue writing and reading when many others loved the screens.
Back in the day, I read blogs and loved the medium, but had a hard time finding my voice and my topics. All of that was resolved when I moved abroad (from Sweden to France) because suddenly I had stories to tell and impressions to share. Around this time, a blogger I read to prepare for moving, “Petite Anglaise”, invited her readers to a meet-up in Paris.
Meeting people that only had that we liked to read one particular blog in common was an enormous aha-moment for me. Some of the people present felt like friends from the first moment. One worked at the same organization as myself, we had just never talked! A year later when I moved to Ghana, I brought the idea with me, that it is doable, and much fun to take online conversations offline.
Why do you think social media is revolutionary?
Social media gives you a voice. If you are a blogger, it gives you, the individual, the possibility to publish. It is huge! Before blogging, you could not publish anything at all unless you asked for permission from an editor, another person with power or printed all copies and distributed them yourself.
Now I can several times a day hit “publish” and send my ideas, beliefs, thoughts, and opinions to THE WHOLE WORLD. Even more important is that we all can respond. What used to be a one-way-communication is now an enormous conversation. If that is not a revolution, then I don’t know what that is!
Surely, not everybody is on-board in this conversation. Ghana has a large majority of people who are not connected and do not have a voice. Still, social media is already affecting them in that traditional media listens to the social media and amplifies it. If a village only has one person who advocates for it and reports from it on social media, chances are much bigger that the rest of us will know what happens there, good and bad.
My hope is that that will soon lead to everybody having a voice, facilitated by internet access.Kajsa Hallberg Adu: BloggingGhana is all about friendship and technology. Click To Tweet
What steps should one take to keep up with this revolution?
One would have to create as much as you consume online and respond as much as you listen. Communication is a two-way thing and you cannot always take without giving back in return.
If you want to benefit from this revolution, you have to give to others what you know and take from others what they know. It is a give and take affair.
Why and how can online conversations and friendships be taken offline?
I am a huge advocate for taking online conversations offline. When human beings convene together it has some magic powers to it. Meeting is like charging the words, the conversation and the relationship you had online.
When we go back online after having met, we can do more. BloggingGhana is all about this —our two pillars are friendship and technology. We might meet offline to discuss a new technology such as podcasting, but what comes out of that conversation is likely more than knowledge transfer.
I can’t explain why this is, but I see people every month hugging after having found out the handle of the person in front of them. Who knows where they go from there?
What and when should you consider taking online friendships offline?
I think it does not have to be complicated. When my friend Sandra and I started BloggingGhana in 2008, we emailed the eight bloggers in Ghana we could find at the time and we met in a bar. We repeated the meet-up monthly, every time in a different place to also get to know the city.
Some of the people who came to the meetings in those first years are some of my best friends today. The first meeting happened in March because I was new in Ghana and I needed friends. I think one could probably be much more deliberate —do I want to take this Facebook interest group offline to gain momentum? Do I want to invite all the people that used my hashtag to a thank you tea party? What group should I take offline if I want to talk to like-minded people?
I also think groups that are more specific might be more efficient. For instance the Facebook group I created for Swedes in Ghana “GhanaSvenskar” shares very specific information online and only meets offline once a year for Swedish Christmas in the tropical heat.Kajsa Hallberg Adu: When human beings convene together it has some magic to it Click To Tweet
Are there any particular processes one should undertake when taking online friendships offline?
Create the group by establishing a communication line —a mailing list, a WhatsApp group, a Facebook group, a Twitter list, a hashtag. Then be ready to do much of the “glueing” of the group by thinking up the meetings, sending reminders, adding members, posting photos for the first year or two or three.
After much hard work, if you are lucky you have started a movement. If you are even luckier, you have made a friend.
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