THE BLOG

How the #TottenhamRiots Changed My Life for the Better

24/09/2014 10:45 BST | Updated 22/11/2014 10:59 GMT

I'll always remember the riots. I was just leaving my office in the Bernie Grant Centre in Tottenham when messages started flooding through on my mobile. "A police car's on fire", one read. My phone didn't stop ringing for the rest of the evening...

During the riots, I stayed indoors as the chaos swarmed through the streets. It was then that I decided to take to Twitter. My profile @FABSNETWORK is well-known by a lot of people in Tottenham, so I could let the community know exactly what was going on.

I started doing a live Twitter report of the real goings-on at ground level - things that the news reporters and people watching on TV may have missed. The real riots. It was here that #TottenhamRiots hashtag was born.

Suddenly, people started taking notice. "The BBC are reporting the news according to your Tweets!" a friend said. And they were right. The next day, my tweets had appeared in several newspapers and I was invited to the BBC to speak about exactly what happened.

Next thing I know, I've set up a communications firm and I'm lecturing on the importance of social media - teaching individuals and companies how to make the most of one of the most powerful platforms on the planet.

If anything, my experience highlights just how important social media has become in our world. Through outlets such as Twitter, what my involvement in reporting the riots proved was that anyone now has the power to lead the news agenda. No more so than our generation.

And it's the accessibility of this platform - hundreds of millions of people around the world have Facebook and Twitter - that opens up a whole load more opportunities.

Young people in England can't let themselves be disheartened by the doom and gloom of high unemployment, low wages and a housing ladder that's becoming harder and harder to get on. Sometimes the biggest opportunities are right under our noses, for we have been brought up in social media and can offer valuable insight into a medium often not properly understood by older generations.

What's stopping you doing what I did? Sometimes you just have to take the first step and not be afraid of having no one there to give you direction. We are the social media generation. It's time to jump into the unknown and trust your instinct.

Franklin Boateng was born and raised in Tottenham. He was selected as one of ten promising local entrepreneurs, recognised for their enthusiasm and dedication to developing their own sustainable business and inspiring the local community.

An exhibition of "The Tottenham Ten" will be showcased at the Bernie Grant Centre in Tottenham from 25th September to 10th October to encourage others to follow their example.