Social Media Marketing in an NGO – Interview with Ganna Preine-Kosach and Facelift 30 Minutes
In an interview from August 11, 2022, Anna Preine-Kosach, Chairwoman of the UKRAINIAN FUTURE Aid Association e.V., talks about how social media shapes the work of NGOs and how social media can be used for humanitarian purposes.
Interviewer (I): How big is your organization and how is your social media team (further SMM) organized?
Ganna Preine-Kosach (G): We have over 100 volunteers, almost all of them are seeking protection, and over 100 German lawyers who offer legal support. Our activity consists of several pillars: psychological support, legal support, SMM and information provision, and IT solutions for those seeking protection in the form of a broad online platform.
I: How did the association come about?
G: The association was founded in March 2022 with the support of the Hamburg Senate and Senator Dressel – due to the Ukraine war. Right from the start, I took on the role of troubleshooter to coordinate the help. We had been growing very quickly. In the meantime, we have made contacts and members in Berlin, Munich, Nuremberg, and Frankfurt, and we have offered to expand our work and know-how to Austria, the Netherlands, and even Canada. To transmit information properly and to keep in touch you urgently need SMM.
In principle, we have two target groups in SMM: Ukrainians, whom we help, and Germans, who are interested in the help and want to find out more about the needs of those seeking protection.
Shortly after the war began, I worked as a coordinator for the German-Ukrainian crisis management team. There was a hotline there.
But: The exchange of information on documents, registration documents, etc. over the phone is incredibly complicated. We quickly learned that this work can be done much more easily via SMM.
I: What role does SMM play when we look at your activities in the association?
G: SMM plays an incredibly important role. We conducted a poll in one of the largest Ukrainian Telegram groups abroad, in which 75,000 members took part. We asked: “Where do Ukrainians like to get information, e.g. about their legal situation?” Despite the many official online offers, Ukrainians prefer social media as a source of information. The reason for this is the personal and individual experiences that are conveyed. 95% of our volunteers are seeking protection themselves. This means that almost everything that we, as an association, say about SMM comes from our own experiences. Bureaucracy and legislation are so changeable and non-transparent. It is important for people, who are looking for information, to be able to share their experience knowledge to others.
I: What does the SMM work like?
G: Over 15 SMM employees work for us. If you look at our pages, you will see sensible content with pictures and graphic design. So far, we have primarily focused on the Ukrainian target group, as there was a huge need for information here. We have very professional content-writers and we have people in a separate team of 8 who report from their own experience. These are people seeking protection themselves, who write easy-to-understand instructions, for example how to visit a job-center, how to apply for benefits, how to get something on the Tafel, etc. To write such instructions, you have to have your own experience.
In a second step, about our second target group, we need German and English-speaking people. Our goal is to acquire donations for our work. SMM helps us engage more people to donate. This money goes directly to our projects. For example, last week we bought an armored ambulance. The ambulance has just been sent to the front via Kyiv, where it is now useful for saving lives. To do these things, we need to be able to connect with people and pass on information – we do that through SMM.
I: Which SMM channels are the most important for you?
G: Most important to us are Facebook and Instagram because we get very strong support from Meta. We are very grateful. Meta plans to open an official office in Kyiv. That allows us to get in touch with people on-site. We’ve also got in touch with Tiktok, a completely different medium, which used to reach a younger audience. Our target group on Instagram consists of people who are less than 35 years old, and on the Facebook – more than35. We are preparing videos for YouTube to provide first aid in the psychological field. So we use different channels for different ages and target groups. We have also developed good contacts with Google. Our website, which will be able to advertise our club, is also in the process of being set up.
I: It’s unbelievable how much you’ve accomplished in a very-short time! How has political communication changed through the use of SMM?
G: There is so much you can do with it! An incredible quantity of people can be reached through videos, voice, or photos. This is often underestimated. At the same time, it is an incredibly difficult job to control and organize all this information – despite all the tools that are available to do so. I am all the more proud of our team!
I: Are there any other goals that you have in the SMM work for the near future?
G: Currently we are building two platforms. One of them is focused on psychological help. The aim is to determine those who need urgent psychological support, so these people are referred to our psychologists. Our volunteers should also be tested. Empathy and stress resistance are very important in this area. We have already experienced that volunteers had to leave us because their stress resistance level was not sufficient.
The second platform will be an application with which, on the one hand, concrete needs to help those, who are seeking protection can be determined. On the other hand, this platform serves as a job exchange for Ukrainians. Ukrainians are not used to receiving social benefits. They usually want to get their job quickly and shape their lives themselves. There are many highly educated Ukrainians who, even if only temporarily, do great work in Germany and could also support the country. I see that as a win-win situation.
We have already spoken to other job boards. There will be collaborations here. The aim is to have CVs automatically translated for all interested Ukrainians, upload them to external job exchanges and forward them to the recruiter pools. That eliminates the language barrier for the time being because this process does not require any language skills. A huge SMM presence is also very important here. The more people we can reach, the greater the application opportunities. Ukrainian specialists can be extremely beneficial for medium-sized businesses and large companies alike. We would like to support Ukrainian specialists, both with training and with getting a job in Germany AND continuing this support on the labour market in Ukraine after the war, where there may also be opportunities for German companies to get started.