Beatriz Martinez: Ready to challenge stereotypes? Then write, tweet and blog!

GMT 10:12 Wednesday ,17 July 2013

 Migrant Voice - Beatriz Martinez: Ready to challenge stereotypes? Then write, tweet and blog!

Are you lost among new concepts as avatar, tweet or follow? Do you find it completely impossible to summarize all your thoughts in the 140 characters that a tweet requires? As part of a wider strategy to challenge myths about immigration the organisation Migrant Voice has initiated a series of workshops under the name Face 2 Face, enabling migrants and people working with immigration to learn how to use social media to challenge discriminatory stereotypes. Beatriz Martinez from Sharehoods, the social webplatform for migrants, attended the series and here below reports her key learnings. Hopefully you will find them useful as well. The first workshop introduced participants to social media basics, how to use the various tools available and tips on how to make the use of them not only relevant but also enjoyable.   If it didn't happen on Twitter or Facebook it didn't really happen   Ok I might be exaggerating a bit but truth is that almost everyone is online at the moment so, so should you. It helps you to get your message across without having to rely on intermediaries and allows you to get feedback straight from your audience. You should, however, never forget the true goal with your Social Media presence: bring more traffic or more users to your website!   Write, post, blog!   As the facilitator Karina Cabrera pointed out during the workshop: “Having a blog requires a lot of time and effort”. It doesn't sound too appealing, does it? Even when she confessed that she also has difficulties keeping her blog updated, she explained their importance in two main points:   It helps you to explain your points further. Social media tends to be too short-lived, so if you have a lot of things to say, blogging is your thing. Blogging will help you bring more traffic to your website. Again, this is the reason why you have a social media presence in the first place!   So get over your shyness and have a try! As Karina said, the first time might not be your finest writing ever but you will improve as you keep practicing.   There is nothing as powerful as a catchy image.... Except for a catchy video.   During our third workshops attendees had the opportunity to record a video with their mobiles and share it with the rest of the group. The idea was to show them how easy it is to make a video and how effective they are. People prefer audiovisual content over just plain text and a video is a tool that catches your audience’s attention straight away. So get over your shyness again and don’t just write but record yourself and what is around you!   OK, but how can we actually use these tools to challenge discrimination?   An intense and interesting debate amongst the workshop participants on how to challenge the backlash that migrants are experiencing in the media at the moment followed after the last workshop. We talked about using content that is trendy right now on Social Media - such as memes or cats (yes, cats are currently the BIG thing out there) - and the importance of sharing migrant stories. This last point was agreed upon by almost everyone: how simply speaking up and explaining your life as migrant (or gay, muslim, transsexual) can have a positive impact on the reader shifting the way migrants are seen and understood. When this happens, migrants cease to be strangers and become “people like you and me”. The first step to tear down barriers is through knowledge and proximity but I wonder if in the end we are not asking migrants to expose themselves and to somehow “prove” they are similar and “normal” as the native population. I think this is a good strategy but, as always, it’s worthwhile taking into account the possible risks with this. I would love to know your opinion on the matter. Do you think social media can help challenge stereotypes and reduce discrimination? Post your answer below or tweet us @Sharehoods_es 'This article was originally published on' Beatriz Martinez is Community Administrator for the Spanish and Latin American Community at Sharehoods is the social web-platform for migrants to the UK. It provide easy to understand “city-life” information, help on paralegal and visa documents to anyone thinking of moving to a different city or country, for free. The one-stop-portal of immigration and visa information is one of the most exciting and promising funded startup project that came out recently of the bubbling London tech startup scene.

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