A Critical Last-Post Perspective

This is my final post today guys… I know, you’re all as sad (grateful) as I am.  All I can hope after these last 6 or 7 weeks is that I’ve provided you all with lots of new or differently explored information, and potentially even persuaded you to believe that maybe online activism has its place.  I’m even more hopeful when I try to believe some of you have maybe sought out some of the ways I’ve listed in your attempts to do some good in this world.  And I’m at my hope-iest that some of you have maybe spread the love that I’m putting out into the world by just having a chat with those around you.

What I’ve wanted all along is to create my own critical periphery.  A periphery of you all on the outer edges of a movement I’ve been trying to start, a periphery that gives me momentum, shape and size.  All you need to do is talk about it.  Hashtag it.  Listen to what others have said.  And most importantly you must not feel bad about contributing to a cause online when its something that really resonates with you.

critical-periphery
Photo by Yolanda Sun.

To recap, we’ve talked about incredibly important campaigns like #HeForShe, #BlackLivesMatter, #PledgeAPlate, #FreeTheNipple, and the #IceBucketChallenge.  And our tips and tricks posts have hopefully illuminated for you the ways in which you can be a great online activist.  We’ve talked about content creation, telling stories, knowing your resources, and research.  And hopefully, you can look at my campaign through the same eyes and figure out what was successful and what was not so successful about it.  Not only did I want to create my own critical periphery, but I wanted to get all of you involved in creating effective change, and one of the skills needed for that is to be just bloody brilliant at the sort of work I’ve been hoping to showcase.

Finally, I wanted to give a huge shout out to everyone who has been a part of this journey.  You have all told helped me adjust my style, and approach things in different ways even if you weren’t aware you were doing so.

Here’s hoping I’ve made a difference!

-AD

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Tips and Tricks #4

  activst-essentials
Activist Essentials, photo by Vadim Sherbakov.

Listening.

Listening is honestly going to be not only the most important part of any successful campaign for social change that uses online digital tools, but also the biggest timesuck.

No lie, it’s like 80% of the gig.  And if you’re anything like me, bighearted, fiery and passionate, the problems you’ll be spending 80% of your time reading about will probably really impact upon how you feel about the world.  These last couple weeks reading about Black Lives Matter, equality, people suffering from debilitating diseases… Safe to say it’s been hard at times.  And it’s really hard for me to believe that these things haven’t changed the more time we spend listening, so just be prepared for all of the feels.

What makes listening easier though?  Emotionally, not much is there to support you except having really good conversations with people talking about the same issues… But in terms of social media tools, this is the cool part, there are HEAPS of sites, people, tools already created to help you get the most out of these platforms.

The internet really is pretty phenomenal, and with a campaign for social change it is one of your best friends.

If you’re using Twitter, I can’t recommend HootSuite, My Top Tweet, and Sprout Social enough.  HootSuite is a dashboard for you to essentially see every page of Twitter you want to monitor all at once.  You can dedicate a section to whatever #hashtag you’d like to watch play out, and this is honestly a great way to get in touch with people who care about your topic.

My Top Tweet allows you to see the most liked, retweeted tweets from people’s handles, and is therefore great at allowing you to see what hashtag networks from your identified hubs get seen by loads of people.

Sprout Social is a tool that helps you measure your Twitter engagement.  I won’t go into them all in depth but logging on is enough to give you reason to stay.

Handy thing about Facebook pages is that they’ve built most if not all the analytics you could want right into their Insights page.  It gives you reach, engagement, page visits, likes, and the list goes on.  One thing I’ve noticed about listening on Facebook though is that searching for hashtags and people don’t necessarily give you the goods when it comes to how they preferentially deliver search results to you.  So for this one, make sure you already know your hubs and you spend significant time on their pages to read comments and share their info.

Once you’ve listened to what the rest of the internet has to say, deeply consider what the internet around you says with regards to your content.  The things that have the most views and engagement, the posts that have generated the engagement you’re looking for, the times of day people spend looking at your data, etc. and then adjust your strategy accordingly.  If you believe it to be content-based engagement, keep pumping that kind of content out! It’s not difficult, but it does require a lot of focus, energy and time.

Happy listening all!

Links to other cool listening tools:
1. Google AdWords
2. AllInTitle
3. Market Samurai
4. Google Alerts

Tips and Tricks #3

This Tips and Tricks post perfectly aligns with the case study I’ll be posting later this week on #BlackLivesMatter.  That, and this, will be given our current circumstances quite difficult topics.  As much as possible, as this is a blog about online activism we will try to separate our academic theorising from the politic and emotion surrounding this topic. To preface, this is not because we don’t think those are important, it’s actually because we think the politics and emotions involved are so important, challenging and necessary to discuss that this is just simply not the right forum for it.  I’d need thousands of words, thousands of open hearts and ears, and a ridiculous amount of strength.

So what we’re focusing on here in Tips and Tricks, is making sure you tell your story.

With any campaign for social change, you need people.  You need them on your side, you need them invested, and you need them to care.  How do you do that?  Well picture you’re in school or university and you attend lectures every week on the same topic.  Do you remember the exact words your lecturer used to explain something they are telling you is incredibly important? Maybe, but probably not.  Do you want to share that with anyone you care about that isn’t also taking the course?  Almost definitely not.

What are the things you do remember?  What are the things you want to tell those you love? See here for a whole chapter on how this works.

Stories.  You want to tell your family a funny joke, something witty, incredulous, fascinating, unbelievable… Something that sticks.  Anything that stuck with you.  Think about telling ghost stories around a camp fire.  Somehow those stories we tell we can remember word for word, and we LOVE telling them.

This doesn’t mean you campaign needs to be full of funny stories, jokes or fear, but it does mean that it needs to have something that will make your audience care.  Think about all the social problems out there and what you might want to change.  Nothing funny or entertaining about that.  In fact most problems are truly heart wrenching and tragic.  Just like the stories being told in the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

These aren’t stories we want to share, these aren’t stories any of us want to hear, but these stories are real, true and necessary.  And the people in these stories deserve the whole world to know the pain and suffering that is happening.  People care about stories.  So find them.  Chase them.  Tell them.  Make them memorable.