Social media is changing lives around the world, helping old friends reconnect and allowing people to share dancing cat videos with millions. People spend hours each day on social media platforms, using them to stay informed, share opinions, post photos, sign petitions, link articles and much more. There is potential to build incredible momentum for a movement and truly engage people by using social media platforms for advocacy efforts.
Your personal sharing, liking, retweeting and posting may seem like they aren’t creating enormous ripples of change, but research has found that content shared by individuals is shared 25 times more and receives eight times more engagement than content shared by organizations themselves. Social media has the ability to amplify a message, allowing great organizations to be introduced to new people and mobilizing communities to give to or advocate for a certain cause. So how can individuals focus social media attention on advocacy efforts and better the world through their news feeds?
Sharing is caring
The community of people you’re friends with or who follow you are those who care about you and are interested in what you have to say. If you show them that you care by sharing and posting about certain causes, they are more likely to engage with that content than if it was posted by an organization on their feed. Since people actually know who you are, things you share and post come off as more trustworthy and real. To this effect, find articles and organizations that matter to you and highlight their efforts. You are the most relatable person for people engaging with your social media, and that can powerfully increase mobilization.
While they may not always seem effective, intentionally using hashtags can really increase how many people interact with posts. Hashtags create networks of posts, linking them together into a common thread, and this is a great way to reach diverse groups on social media platforms for advocacy. Creating a specific hashtag that a person or organization always uses can help people learn about causes you’re passionate about, and adding information about an issue to a trending hashtag can help spread your message locally and globally.
Turn some heads
A visual appeal can really catch and keep people’s attention. One study found that seeing photos and infographics greatly influenced members of Congress, and others interacting with your postings and shares are equally as interested in nice visuals. By adding photos or cool graphics, your content will better capture people’s attention and enable you to use social media platforms for advocacy. Attaching images can create a 150 percent increase in retweets on Twitter and bring in an 87 percent engagement rate on Facebook, which is great news for mobilizing efforts!
Take that social media work offline
Social media is great for connecting people, but gathering your community offline is powerful, too. Use social media platforms for advocacy by creating events, gathering donations, sharing information and planning meetings, then take that advocacy into the physical world. Online calls to action such as signing petitions and contacting Congressional representatives can transform into in-person meetings with government officials either individually or at town halls, and mobilizing people for your cause can mean sharing through word of mouth or posting physical copies of an infographic around town. Building online engagement into a tangible movement can have an immense impact.
Rather than aimlessly scrolling through Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, Facebook, Tumblr and other social media platforms, infuse some world-improving efforts into your feed and use those social media platforms for advocacy. With such amazing tools available, it is important to increase the intentionality of our scrolling and harness social media platforms for advocacy.
– Irena Huang