BRIDGE – Civilians In Conflict Social Media Journey

Tereza Litsa
Digital Engagement Manager
20 Aug 2019

Lightful have been working with a number of organisations on the BRIDGE programme (Building Resilience in Digital Growth and Engagement) for almost a year now. As the pilot phase of the BRIDGE programme comes to an end, we wanted to tell you about a few of the participants’ journeys from our first two cohorts.

A number of organisations, when they embarked on the BRIDGE programme, found social media an uphill struggle. They found that they had little or no time, resource, funds and knowledge to allow them to use social media for good. They knew that they wanted to increase awareness, increase engagement and raise much needed funds for projects they were working on, but were not sure where to start.

In this story series we will be exploring the journey of a number of organisations who have been part of the programme. Thanks to the funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation we have had a cohort working with organisations based in many countries around the world. We have also been working with Comic Relief who funded a cohort for charities based in the UK.

The Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) have been part of the BRIDGE programme since October 2018. They are a small not-for-profit organisation dedicated to promoting better protection of civilians caught in conflict. With headquarters in the US and field offices in many countries around the world, CIVIC shares the stories of how conflict affects civilians, equips security actors to improve civilian protection, and advocates policymakers to adopt policies recognizing and enforcing civilian rights.

We invited Piper Hendricks, Head of Communications, and Dan Chinitz, Communications Intern, to talk about their Social Media journey.

It would be great if you could tell us a little about CIVIC.

CIVIC was founded in 2003 to assist civilian victims of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Today we are a go-to source for effective civilian protection and practice and a leading voice for civilians living in conflict throughout the world.

We advise international organizations, governments, militaries, and armed non-state actors to prioritize the protection of civilians caught in conflict zones. In addition to working directly with civilian community engagement groups to promote their own protection, we bring the voices of civilians themselves to those making decisions affecting their lives.

“We set out knowing we had strong content but with an incredibly small team. Lightful, in addition to sharing the latest and best practices in social media, was a really useful tool to coordinate across the organisation.”

Let’s think about 12 months ago, how did you approach growing and engaging your audience on social media?

We were stuck creating and organising our content in an Excel spreadsheet for a long time. This wasn’t an ideal way to coordinate with teams across the world and, as we added more content, the file itself became increasingly beastly and clunky.

When engaging our teams, we found it really challenging to collate and collect content; Excel doesn’t have the capability to share or attach large media files or format as a social media post would be formatted. This soon highlighted the limitations of a spreadsheet! We knew that we needed a new solution and a strategy to get more of our global team involved in content creation.

We had a rough plan of what we wanted to post but it was a challenge to coordinate across time zones and platforms with a team of two people supporting multiple programs around the world.

What were some of the most helpful lessons you have picked up in the last 12 months as part of the BRIDGE programme?

One of the most important lessons we learned was about consistency. We have been able to develop more consistency as we grow our audience and engagement. We’ve clarified guidelines as to what we are posting, when we are posting it, and who we are targeting with our content. In doing so, we’ve increased the number of engagements within our organisation and our external audience.

Also, Lightful has helped us utilize some of the stories we have collected as an organisation in the work we do and share them on social media. We planned and ran a series of blog posts about Gender in Conflict to share how gender impacts civilians’ experience of conflict. Lightful made it easy to share these stories across platforms with a variety of audiences in a consistent and engaging way.

With Lightful, we’ve been able to help the rest of the organisation understand how much we should be focusing in on social media. It’s been incredibly helpful to share more voices throughout our organisation and also from within our global projects.

What have you been able to achieve in the last 12 months?

We now have a higher level of coordination when it comes to social media. The platform has made the once daunting task of social media easier for a small team and the organisation as a whole has become more engaged and collaborative on social media. Having team members with access to the platform at the same time has been fabulous.

We have been able to move away from the cumbersome spreadsheet and utilize the scheduling feature within the Lightful platform. The Lightful team provided us with patience while we transitioned away from our spreadsheet.

We have been coordinating across the organisation for a long time, but with Lightful, we now have team members added as Lightful Editors around the world and are increasingly seeing field teams add content, which is something we haven’t been able to do on other platforms. This has been a huge step toward sharing more of the impactful work CIVIC is doing globally. We have amazing people in so many parts of the world, sharing the great work they are doing is really important to us.

“People who are not communication specialists can become part of your social media output. Along the way you will learn the potential for great collaboration and how to engage and empower your team in content creation.”

How do you feel now you are approaching the end of the BRIDGE programme in growing and engaging your audience on social media?

We feel even more comfortable with our social media in general and also how we can best use the platform. Social media is a skill to be built upon, keep learning to help it become easier. And, again, having team members creating content from the field is a great step for us.

We have been able to make our tone of voice more consistent and post on social more consistently with this in mind. Collaboration is now much easier and we can do more with our teams across the world as our processes are much more streamlined. We’ve been able to share knowledge, tools and build out our strategy with content from each of our teams on the ground.

We now know that even with the limited time we are able to commit to social that if we work smart we can achieve a lot! Having the knowledge and confidence on the platform has helped us to develop a higher level of engagement more consistently and also posted with our audience in mind.

In the last 12 months we have also grown as a team; we have absorbed all we can and then passed this to our wider team. These learnings have helped us to adapt even with our limited capacity.

To our delight we have not needed to open the spreadsheet for ages. We no longer use it for planning and collaboration; we use Lightful instead.

Learning more about Lightful’s BRIDGE programme

Many organisations we have worked with during the BRIDGE programme have found that they have been able to present the successes of social media to their board of trustees, directors and other senior partners thanks to what they have learned in the last 12 months.

This starts with developing an understanding of what they are looking to achieve with social media and setting SMART goals. Having a goal in mind helps to validate how successful a campaign has been, or where improvements need to be made.

The types of goals that BRIDGE organisations have set and have subsequently achieved, included –

  • Gaining a better understanding of our current audience
  • Engaging a wider audience
  • Increasing the number of individual donors
  • Increasing the value generated via donations.

Stay tuned to hear about the social media journeys of other organisations in our next few blog posts! To find out more about BRIDGE, please email

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