Social media: The unseen panelist at #AGRF2018

Social media: The unseen panelist at #AGRF2018

Social media platforms have proved to be a powerful mechanism to ensure that key issues are born, nurtured and mature through online participation. With this knowledge, the successful communications operation for just 2018 African Green… Click To Tweet

Social media is front and center of any communication drive. Leaving it out would be foolhardy; you will not only fail to reach millions of your target groups but also miss out on a great value for your money which is constantly in short supply.

As a result, millions of people interacted with the AGRF –  a platform for global and African leaders to develop actionable plans that will move African agriculture forward – from the comfort of their offices and homes or in their commutes. They became part of the 2800 delegates from around and outside the continent, both in public and private sector, that convened in the hilly capital of Rwanda, Kigali.

Like all other forums, speakers were locked down months in advance and the programme started taking shape at the same time. Participants were also gearing up to attend the forum, each with their own expectation, opinion and agenda. Online conversations started way before the forum began sparking heated discussions that called for more action and more involvement from both public and private sectors.

They say social media has made the world flat. This was evident at the forum. It gave people a platform to discuss their interests without boundaries or waiting in line. You see, in the moment, content is useful, but soon much of what we absorbed is gone from our minds when we go back to our day-to-day busy lives. But that is changing because we are quickly becoming digital natives. Whether we’re searching on Google, or Facebooking our friends and family, nearly everyone turns to the internet to learn and engage. The explosion of social media has made it possible for us to capture meaningful information and respond to it – in real time. We no longer have to wait for the newspaper to arrive in the morning, or rush home for the 7 o’clock news because, with social media, information isn’t scarce, it is abundant. Even better, we, the people, now get to add to it, create more of it, and deliver it to others in our own way, on our own time.

#AGRF2018 social media in numbers

From the social media beginner to the sophisticated user, #AGRF2018 proved valuable to the audience by giving participants the opportunity to interact with the issues and trends – before, during and after the event. Due to its intricate… Click To Tweet

Since AGRF is an annual forum, the hashtags vary slightly to include the year; this year’s was #AGRF2018 which is very simple and memorable. This was the unified hashtag across AGRF’s social media presence; Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. The hashtag was plastered everywhere; billboards, banners, videos to embed it in people’s brains.

Months before the forum, we put together a plan showing the activities we would undertake before, during and after #AGRF2018 and also crafted the social media kit which contained key messages, sample tweets, sample Facebook posts and partners’ social media handles. The plan was shared with AGRF’s key stakeholders to ensure we all spoke from the same playbook and encouraged them to push out the messages on their platforms.

We promoted the forum very heavily on Twitter and Facebook. We revamped the website to give it a more aesthetically appealing look and feel. Being Africa’s biggest agriculture forum, the website needed to look the part. On Facebook and Twitter, we promoted the speakers and the venue where the forum would take place; the Kigali Convention Centre. We also drove a very heavy push for registration on Twitter.


During the forum, we shared behind the scenes photos just to show people what’s going on behind the curtain and to show off the team pulling the forum together. This helped humanize the forum and gave our audience the impression of being an insider with a glimpse behind the scenes.

Aside from our owned and earned media efforts, we had also engaged social media influencers who are in the agricultural field. They drove the power of word-of-mouth at scale. They know their audience better than anyone, therefore told stories about AGRF that turned their followers into our fans.



Throughout the forum, we hooped and skipped from one session to another trying to capture sound bites that we could use as content on Twitter, Facebook and the daily newsletters that we sent out before, during and after the forum.

The user-generated content was off the charts especially on Twitter where most of our engagement came from. Interesting to note is that President Kagame, the host of this year’s forum, had the most retweeted tweets, with the most retweeted tweet (from @UrugwiroVillage) gaining 620 retweets. AGRF’s Twitter account gained over a 1,000 new followers between mid-August up to the week of the forum.

On Facebook, where we had both paid and organic engagement, we had garnered over 42,000 engagements and over 353,000 impressions. One new social element we introduced was Facebook Live interviews which happened during the breaks to give it the full forum experience. These generated almost 40,000 views.

Our audiences created such a buzz that #AGRF2018 trended in Rwanda and Kenya.

Users were sharing photos, session sound bites, videos and moreso retweeting content from the AGRF Twitter handle.

Post-forum, we are still sharing lots of evergreen video content that we shot and these include fireside chats we conducted with some of AGRF’s key stakeholders and leaders from the sector.

Overall, social media offered a dynamic platform to reach our audience and form meaningful connections. Making meaningful connections with our audience was paramount in today’s noisy, competitive world. Choosing to activate at the AGRF’s live events offered an optimal chance for connection through extending the experience and impact for our audience. Aside from the usual social media channels, we had an event page set up on Whova and this is where the most ‘social’ conversations took place. There were groups on morning jogs, foodies, sharing rides and groups that met with the same business agenda. These activities were initiated online and realized offline.

Hats off to the engine room that made the social media push a great success!

Remember social media really is one big conversation. Don't just do social or be social, be socially relevant and have fun doing such. Your good attitude will shine through via your tweets, posts and images. Roll with the good, bad and… Click To Tweet


Written by Ng’endo Machua, AGRA’s Digital and Content Development Specialist

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