The advent and rise of digital platforms has created a perpetual and essential need for content development. The online space hosts a new, vast and diverse regime of content. Content is entertaining. Content is resourceful. Content gives us information. Content shapes our way of thinking. One can even say that the internet is sustained by content. Content enables us to tell our stories, particularly the lived experiences and realities of queer people, which never makes it to mainstream media. Digital platforms have also supported the creation and sustenance of impactful feminist movements that centre and amplify queer voices, different bodies and marginalised groups. With this recognition, the Initiative for Equality and Non-discrimination (INEND) has launched a series of online campaigns, including a webinar on digital content creation as part of supporting queer people build their capacity to tell and write their own stories. This blog post will provide some of the insights that emerged from the delightful conversation.

This webinar presented an opportunity for queer people to participate, share their experiences and learn about digital content creation. Specific topics covered during the conversation included- digital and print content creation, communications for advocacy and content distribution.

Digital and Print Content Creation- Abigail Arunga While talking about her journey with content creation which began in social media management and later as a columnist for the Daily Nation, Abigail kicked off the conversation by emphasizing that all companies need social media handles, not for sales or marketing as is widely presumed, but precisely so that their customers can reach them. Digital content creation requires you to be appealing, persuasive, and cognisant of your audience and platforms of engagement. Ask yourself questions like; what time should a post go up, what strategy works best for your client and what packaging strategy are you going to use. Print content creation, while exciting can be intellectually draining. Rules for print content creation always differ depending on what topic you are writing about. Here’s a few things to remember when getting into print content creation;  The number one rule for print content creation is, ‘brevity is the soul of wit.’ Opinion pieces should be 500-600 words, tops!  Figure out your tone of voice. What diction are you using? What grammar are you using? Can you manipulate grammar to hike your creativity?  Understand the writing rules and know when to manipulate them to your advantage.  Practise makes perfect! The more you write, the better you become.  Constant reading develops your vocabulary.  Find what you enjoy producing and focus on it.
 Network with other content creators and learn from each other.  Have a standard rate, and it’s okay to negotiate for yourself!

Communications for Advocacy- Nafula Wafula Nafula began this session by speaking briefly about her advocacy work around Sexual Reproductive and Health Rights and Gender Equality and she mentioned how more often than not, the success of campaigns for these issues depended on whether or not there existed an advocacy plan. She further mentioned that many campaigners get excited and begin campaigns without employing a practical advocacy plan. An advocacy plan should be action-oriented, with the goal of inviting people to do something in a certain way. She recommended employing a lot of research and solid analysis to make it easier to implement the advocacy plan. It is important to put your advocacy objectives in place and your communication plan must communicate those objectives. Several campaigners work on the assumption that their audience is general, without prioritizing the necessity for audience segmentation. Break down your audience into categories- is the campaign targeting the youth, people living in rural areas or parents. Additionally, it is paramount to consider what effective messaging would look like for your campaign. For instance, you would need to be alive to the fact that your message would constantly need to change or be customized depending on who your audience is. For example, if you are running a campaign for Comprehensive Sexuality Education, and your target audience is parents, you would need to have cognisance of the reality that many parents will not condone the word “sex” in relation to their children. Therefore, your message will not focus on sex as an act, but sexuality as the core of any human being. Instead of your message saying something like, “Let teenagers have sex” you may want to say something along the lines of “Schools will fashion teenagers with knowledge about their sexuality, reproductive health rights and safe sex for when they have sex” The components of your message should include the changes that your campaign hopes to create, a deliberate strategy on how those changes are going to occur and a call to action for your audience to act towards achieving that change. Consider the following key ideas while handling communications for advocacy;  The priority areas for your audience.  Choose a strategic and deliberate method of communication.  The reach and frequency of your audience on a platform before choosing a platform to use for your communication.  The cost of engaging in a certain platform. Creating personal relationships with the press may help in mitigating costs.
 The risks attached to using a platform. For instance, different channels may have the adverse effect of your audience viewing your message as propaganda.  The effectiveness of the channel for rapid response in case of negative opinions or a need arises to send out urgent messages to counter damaging feedback.

Nafula also graciously shared with us an example of an effective advocacy campaign that she started to counter rape culture in the Kenyan Sports industry. Have a read!

Content Distribution- Racheal Wamoto Rachael was very keen on beginning her session with understanding your audience- who is going to listen to your content, and who is going to view it. Having significant awareness of who your audience is will determine the method that you use to distribute your content. Before developing content, you should know the channel or method of distribution you are going to use. There are different types of media for content distribution. Old distribution, which is free and offers you some sort of flexibility and control on what content goes where, earned distribution where you can engage social influencers to distribute your content and paid distribution where you can engage in sponsored distribution, specifically target your audience and where you want the content to be exposed. If you choose to use earned or paid distribution, it is important that they lead back to your old distribution in order to gain traffic on your content. Additionally, you must brand your content well in readiness for distribution. For example, if you have a newsletter, it must be easy to navigate, interactive, visual and precise. Network with other content distributors, can you distribute on their sites, can you collaborate, sponsor ads or work together to bring traffic. It is also important to have a content distribution plan that has a strategy for measuring results depending on the content released. Higher percentages of new visitors on your site is a manifestation of a wider reach. In addition, you can look out for a specific time when the site has traffic as a method to measure results. Having goals for engagement like expecting feedback in the form of shares, likes, comments, and views is also a great method of measuring results. Rachael mentioned examples of apps that give detailed feedback- Google Analytics, which is particularly great for websites, Hootsuite, Awario and Quintly.

We loved providing this platform for engagement with content creation and distribution. We hope this information will be helpful to you as you begin or continue with your content creation journey, and that the content you produce, particularly as queer people, will be authentic, unapologetic and absolutely YOU!

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