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The National Cooperative Union of India (NCUI) organized a webinar on ‘Importance of Social Media for Cooperatives’ on 4th June 2021. The webinar was aimed at educating cooperatives on the importance of social media and how they could utilize it for sharing their success stories, brand building, advocacy, and business activities.

 

Led by Mr. Dileep Sanghani, NCUI President and Dr. Sudhir Mahajan, NCUI Chief Executive, it was attended by the representatives of several cooperative organizations including Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) or Amul, Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Limited (IFFCO), Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA), Saraswat Bank, and ICA-AP.

 

In his Presidential address, Mr. Sanghani noted that though many cooperative organizations have a presence on social media, the number very less in comparison to private organizations. He said, to compete in the market economy, cooperatives must strengthen their communication and social media presence. Cooperatives should highlight their success stories on social media, especially of farmers for the world to be aware and appreciative of the Indian agriculture sector.

 

Dr. Sudhir Mahajan, in his opening remarks, said that social media has become a part of people’s daily routine. It can be an integral tool for cooperative organisations to highlight their achievements, showcase best practices, and to do constructive work. Sharing an anecdote from one of his earlier postings in Andaman during the first COVID wave, he mentioned that he has seen the entire government office running via WhatsApp! He urged cooperatives to understand the power of social media and share their local knowledge and best practices with other cooperatives for mutual growth.

 

Mr. Jayen Mehta, Senior General Manager, GCMMF presented how Amul has been able to utilize the power of social media effectively to interact and engage with its customers and that too without spending any money. He said, “Don’t be an advertiser, be a content creator.” Creating engaging content is key to be in touch with your customers. He narrated how during lockdown Amul experimented with live recipe shows on its social media that became a huge hit. They produced over 2,500 hours of content in English, Hindi, and other regional languages. He also touched upon the dark side of social media including trolling and hate speech.  However, thanks to their monitoring and tracking analytics, Amul makes sure to reach the source and solve the issue as quickly as possible.

 

Shreyas Nagarkar, Head of Corporate Communication, Saraswat Cooperative Bank noted that social media is meant for people and allows a chance to know their minds. He said that their social media builds on this thought process and that is why Saraswat Cooperative Bank’s social media posts are not related to banking information only, but covers current affairs, CSR activities, events, etc. He shared that Saraswat Cooperative Bank has been the first bank to use WhatsApp for banking.

 

Mr. Harshendra Singh Verdhan, Head of Public Relations and Brand Communications, IFFCO made an important suggestion to NCUI that it should create a platform that links all cooperatives. He said, you have to handhold them and nudge them to begin the exercise of communication through social media. Underlining the importance of Instagram Reels, he said it can create a huge impact if cooperatives start highlighting their good practices. He added that social media can also help facilitate global business for cooperatives.

 

Mr. SP Singh, Journalist, Dainik Jagran noted that while other forms of media are one-sided, social media thrives on two-way communication based on the feedback of people even at the lowest level.

 

Ms. Salonie Murlidhara, Senior Manager, SEWA said that during Covid, SEWA used social media platforms to address the needs of informal women workers, generate funds, and form linkages with other organizations. She highlighted that creating content based on a specific purpose and the intended audience is vital to create an impact.

 

Ms. Shivali Sarna, Communication and Membership Development Officer, ICA-AP presented how the organisation uses social media. ICA-AP’s social media communication revolves majorly around activities and events organised for members, advocacy, and policy issues. She quoted from their research 65% of ICA-AP member organizations use Facebook as compared to other channels. She added that social media is an important tool for digital activism, advocacy, and raising funds for cooperatives. The right use of social media can help strengthen the cooperative movement.

 

Mr. Sanjay Verma, Deputy Director of Public Relations, NCUI gave the closing remarks and said more sectoral social media webinars should be organized at national, state and district levels.

 

The complete recording of the webinar can be viewed here.