Marianne Young

Marianne Young

High Commissioner, Windhoek

Part of UK in Namibia

13th September 2011 Windhoek, Namibia

Social Namibia – sharing ideas on digital direction

Guest blogger Anna Lewis – Digital Communications Manager for Africa, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, London

Social networking is a global phenomenon that no one working in media or communications can ignore.  There have been a host of international events this year in which social media have played a significant part.  From the Arab Spring to the Tsunami in Japan, ‘digital diplomacy’ (as the UK Foreign Office calls it) has not just been growing in importance, it’s become an integral part of the way we work.Namibia is no exception to this digital trend. Social media is gaining traction, and has the potential to change the way that government, businesses and the press engage with their audience.

HE Mrs Marianne Young, welcoming the participants to the Digital Workshop

So, when The High Commissioner Marianne Young found out that I would be in Pretoria talking to other communicators in the Foreign Office’s Africa network, she requested that I come along and run a morning workshop on social media, for the local press and others from local embassies.

Namibia, according to the website, has over 120,000 Facebook users. That’s an approximate 5.8% of the population. That doesn’t sound all that high, until you see that that equates to over 97% of the people who are online. That’s huge!

Unsurprising then, that when I asked who in the room was on Facebook, nearly everyone put their hand up.  Fewer people were already on Twitter, but from the sounds of it, it is picking up gradually in Namibia. One of the national papers has a column on Twitter – where notable tweets from or about Namibia are written up. A great fusion of traditional and new methods of communication!

Media across the network attended the Digital Workshop

We had an interactive session where everyone got into groups and wrote their own tweets based on some tips. It generated lots of discussion and I hope everyone who hadn’t been on Twitter before got a decent flavour of the tone and content that works best. As we discussed, Twitter has proved hugely useful for journalists in the UK and US, so it’s worth investigating if it could be useful here.I also explained about the way that the UK Foreign Office is using social media as a tool to compliment our traditional business of diplomacy. Broadcasting, monitoring and engaging are all key elements of our digital strategy.

Here in Windhoek, the British High Commission in Namibia recently set up a Facebook page – so head over and ‘like’ it. We would love to be linked with you and look forward to finding out who’s actively using social media here.

There were lots of questions throughout the session … why go on Twitter if you are on Facebook? What do you do if people start making comments that you don’t like? How do you grow your number of followers? How much do you need to censor yourself when you tweet or share on Facebook?

There’s not really space to write up all the answers we talked through here, but do get in touch if you want to discuss any of these issues.
Ultimately it comes down to what you are trying to achieve. Think about your objective and your audience, apply all your usual rules of common sense and you’ll soon find the best forum for you.

Coffee break discussions

So, now we want to hear from you! How can we, as communicators, make the best use of social media in Namibia? Are there possibilities for working together to achieve this? Who are the people we should be engaging with and how do we reach them? In South Africa, I heard that more young people are using Mxit than Facebook. Is that the case in Namibia too?We’d love to hear your comments below. And we’ll be sending out the slides from the presentation to all the people who came along. If you couldn’t make it, but are interested in hearing more, then just write a comment below, and we’ll get in touch.

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About Marianne Young

Marianne Young is the current British High Commissioner to the Republic of Namibia. She arrived in Windhoek in June 2011 and presented her credentials to the President of the Republic of…

Marianne Young is the current British High Commissioner to the
Republic of Namibia. She arrived in Windhoek in June 2011 and presented
her credentials to the President of the Republic of Namibia on 3rd
Mrs Young joined the FCO in 2001 following a career in international
journalism, including time spent running an Asian maritime press office
in Singapore and a traineeship on the UK’s Times newspaper.
Her first role in the FCO was as a Press Officer in News Department,
after which she went on to be Head of the Great Lakes Section in Africa
Directorate and then Head of the East Africa & Horn Section.
In 2005, she became the first Head of Communications for the Engaging with the Islamic World Group.
She moved to the British High Commission in Pretoria in February 2007
and served as the Head of the External Political Section and Deputy
High Commissioner to the Kingdoms of Lesotho and Swaziland.
Mrs Young moved across to the British High Commission in Windhoek in
June 2011, and presented her credentials to the President of the
Republic of Namibia on 3rd August 2011.
On her appointment as British High Commissioner to the Republic of Namibia, Mrs Young said:
“I am honoured and delighted to be appointed Her Majesty’s High
Commissioner to Namibia. I look forward to working to strengthen the
many commercial, political and cultural ties between our two countries,
and to help the many British nationals who holiday there. My family and I
are particularly thrilled to be remaining in southern Africa – and to
have the opportunity to explore this beautiful country further and
discover more about its people and culture.”
Curriculum vitae

Full name:
Marianne Young

Married to:
Barry Young

Two daughters and one son

June 2011
Windhoek, British High Commissioner

2007 – 2011
Pretoria, Head of External Political Section and DHC for the Kingdoms of Lesotho and Swaziland

2005 – 2006
FCO, Head of Communications, Engaging with the Islamic World Group

2004 – 2005
FCO, Head of East Africa & Horn Section, Africa Directorate

3/2003 – 8/2003
FCO, Head of Great Lakes Section, Africa Directorate

2002 – 2003
FCO, Press Officer, Press Office

2001 – 2002
FCO, Departmental Report Editor, Press Office

Joined FCO

Senior Correspondent, Fairplay Group, UK

Staff Editor and then Asia Editor, Fairplay Group Singapore

Graduate Trainee at The Times newspaper, UK

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