December 8, 2014

unaDigital natives, the youth of today who were born into the realities of digital technologies, don’t know any other way to live without a life anchored in digital. It is in this space where young people want to learn to be better and more responsible.

The PANAF IMC Youth Congress, the PANA Foundation’s yearly learning event for students interested in integrated marketing communications, explores the digital persona with the theme “Digital Me” on its fifth year.

Keynote speaker Bianca Gonzalez opens the congress with her insights on “How to be a Better Me in the Digital World”. Writer, TV host and all-around supporter of good causes, Bianca uses social media savvy to promote various advocacies like education and children’s rights.

She has almost four million followers on Twitter and more than half a million followers on Instagram.

“I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram,” she says.

“With how things work today, you have to be on at least one platform in social media. In the course of my using social media, I got more followers and more bashers. Social media is very powerful. It has the power to inspire. Social media, a single photo, or a single tweet, or a single status can make or break people.”

Even @iamsuperbianca sometimes makes mistakes. No matter how well meaning, there are circumstances when how or what a person posts online causes backlash, so Bianca draws on her own experiences to share these 10 tips on using social media:

  • Don’t post just for the sake of posting or para may masabi lang
  • Follow the accounts relevant to you
  • Spell correctly and edit yourself
  • Avoid posting when your emotions are high
  • Always give due credit
  • In everything, dapat sapat lang – no hourly selfies, please
  • Engage in conversations
  • Post mo, panindigan mo
  • Likes, follows, retweets – know that these do not validate you as a person – hindi siya reflection ng kabutihan mo bilang isang tao
  • A better you in the real world is effortlessly a better you in the digital world

The focus of this year’s youth congress was not only on social media, but also on the opportunities that could fulfill dreams and make a difference in working the digital space.

Channeling the power of digital for a cause

What does it take to change the world? Merlee Jaymee, “chairmom” and chief creative officer of DM9 JaymeSyfu believes it takes the mind and the heart together.

“Doing ads is the most fun thing in life,” she says in her talk, “Creativity with a Purpose”.

“As a creative I enjoy it a lot. It’s not easy, but I enjoy it a lot. But I think growing older in this industry, I want to do something more. We have to find solutions – not just to brand problems, but to the world problems.”

Advertising agency FCB in Brazil brought together young Brazilians learning to speak English with elderly Americans living in retirement homes in Chicago, USA, Merlee relates. In the “Speaking Exchange” project, students from CNA Language Schools connected with the seniors via web chat.

The result went beyond learning English from native speakers. Real friendships were formed between the young people and the elderly who particularly enjoyed forming new relationships abroad from the comfort of their retirement homes.

In the Netherlands, a children’s charity organization cracked down on child predators by using a computer generated Filipina girl in video chat rooms to track offenders who contacted her. The campaign, dubbed “Hello, Sweetie”, shed light on the disturbing webcam sex tourism phenomenon threatening underprivileged young girls.

Ging Reyes, head of ABS-CBN’s news and current affairs division, shares how citizen journalists are contributing to news reporting through Bayan Mo iPatrol Mo (BMPM).

Now with more than one million Bayan Patrollers using their personal gadgets and initiative, BMPM has become instrumental in informing the nation about news and issues from all over the Philippines.

“BMPM emerged as a movement of citizens’ concern for their communities actively seeking change and pushing for government action,” Ging says.

“A lot of young people are eager to give reports, to take part in the newsgathering and in the giving of story ideas to our newsroom. BMPM has developed into a platform for responsible social media use and ethical practice of citizen journalism.”

The real world matters

From Jugs Jugueta (Itchyworms vocalist) and Teddy Corpuz (Rocksteddy vocalist) assuring the youth congress that it’s okay to fail when taking a risk at doing something you love rather then not putting in the effort at all, to R&B star Jay R’s insistence that practice is part of the recipe for success, we realize that the “digital me” and the “real me” needs to become one person that strives to be a better me.

“Practice, practice, practice – practice your craft,” Jay R says.

“I worked with whoever I could. Kahit hindi ko gusto yun kanta, i-re-record ko, because I’m practicing, I’m helping other people as well, and it’s PR. Not only in the music industry, but in any industry, PR is very important because you build friendships and you create your own network.”

Jay R’s hard work and willingness to build relationships enabled him to put together his first album all for free when he was just starting out in the business.

“It’s really about how much you want your dreams to happen,” he says.

“If you really want to do something you’re going to find a way to get it. And don’t forget, the most important thing is to work hard and work honest.”

Len Pozon, vice president of marketing services and communications of Pioneer Life, is a digital immigrant with 20 years of experience in the insurance industry.

She says that in 1998 when Google was born, digital natives were still learning how to walk while digital immigrants needed learn how to use the Internet.

Yet no matter how the world has embraced digital, there would always be three things she looks for in a person: competency, which is the ability to make things happen; character, which is making things happen with integrity; and chemistry, which is making things happen with integrity and with the help of others.

“Do what is right even when no one is watching,” Len asserts.

Digital has become so necessary to the workings of the world and industries that there is no going back. But digital is not merely technology and know-how. It is how people use digital, more importantly how the youth in today’s digital world uses digital, that gives it power.

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