From the digital world to real-life engagement

My lessons running public advocacy campaign

When I was given the assignment to create a public advocacy campaign to raise awareness about women’s role in opening up energy access, I thought about a lot of things. But the most important thing I considered was that it had to be engaging. Why? Because if it’s engaging, people will take interest and then understand the issue. Only then can the goal of increasing public awareness of such an important issue be achieved. Though by the end of the campaign, I discovered that the word ‘engagement’ meant so much more than I originally thought.

What is ‘engagement’ and how do you measure it?

Nowadays, digital media is a very powerful tool to get your message to reach wide audiences with relatively small budgets. Through effective social network campaigning, you can generate a high amount of interaction between people and your brand or message — this is what we call in the communications world, ‘engagement’. In the simplest way, we start counting when people take action on a post or a page, including clicks, likes, shares and comments. The higher the number, the better the engagement. And the highest number possible was the goal for this campaign.

So, how do you create an engaging digital campaign?

Following numerous brainstorming sessions with the team, we finally came up with the big idea: a volunteering program. So, at the end of April, we launched a campaign inviting the public to volunteer with us; supporting our Wonder Women program in East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia by assisting who we affectionately call our ‘Ibu Inspirasi” (‘Wonder Women’ in English) with their day-to-day role in improving energy access in rural areas of Indonesia.

The call was for applicants to create a one-minute video pitch, highlighting why they should volunteer with us. The applicants were also asked to share the videos on their own social media to ‘promote’ themselves. With this, we were hoping to reach more people and increase overall number of engagements with the campaign.

Exceeding our expectations, in just two months, we had received more than 100 applicants, but we could only select three people.

Following a rigorous selection process, three outstanding applicants Febrian, Trisa, and Lovi were chosen. And in August, they traveled to Larantuka and Lembata to support carefully chosen Ibu Inspirasi in their work spreading clean-energy technologies within their communities. Over two weeks the volunteers were incredibly immersed in their work and the community around them. They each continuously posted about their activities on social media and, through their influence, engagement with our important message continued to rise.

To date, we have achieved more than 10,000 engagements on social media and have received more than 18,000 visitors to our website.

But there was something else occurring that was beyond my expectation. Within such a short period of time, the three volunteers had each grown an amazing emotional bond with their Ibu (actually meaning mother in English). Later, after the volunteer program had ended, when I met some of the volunteers and the women, I was surprised to learn that they still kept in touch through text message or phone calls every now and then.

“Through this volunteering program, not only did I learn so many valuable lessons, but I also got a new family. And yes, we still keep in touch.” — Trisa

Connecting these volunteers with their Ibu has become one of my most proud achievements so far. There is an indescribable feeling of happiness seeing people connect so well despite their different backgrounds.

Through this program, the three volunteers gained a deeper understanding of the issue beyond what any click or like could achieve. Their involvement in the lives of their Ibu translates now not only into stories, photos, and videos on social media but also into real-life action!

  • Febrian personally campaigned to raise funds for Mama Rovina to complete her bathroom construction. He also sent books to Mama Rovina’s village for children to improve their learning.
  • Lovi generously gave a guitar to Mama Kris’ son, so that he can continue to pursue his dream of becoming a musician.
  • Trisa is planning to make products from Mama Esi’s hand-woven cloths to help her add more value to her handcraft.

In the end, the connection between our volunteers and their ‘mothers’ has resulted in true engagement with this issue — and their very real and vital role in energy access in remote parts of the world.

In the ‘real’ world, the word ‘engagement’ actually means “to get and keep someone’s attention and interest”. But what I have seen goes beyond simply this. Real connections have been made here. While I think that social media is a powerful tool to disseminate information, nothing can replace real connection — real engagement.

And the real engagement is immeasurable.


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Kopernik connects simple, life-changing technology with the people who need it the most. We’ve reached more than 330,000 people to date.

If you’d like to see more findings from our program and research work, view our Kopernik Insights series.