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

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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.

 

A Small Break in Tradition

Exciting stuff guys!

This blog post was not scheduled ahead of time and is additional but its because I’ve found new information that has been awesome to read and I want to draw your attention to it!

First of all, I want you to consider the concept of physical activism and think about the bodily experience of protest.

I read this incredible post and not only did it echo my sentiments on the usefulness of online activism but it also really opened my eyes to an entirely different perspective on bodily experiences with regards to getting involved in change.  Criticism of ‘slacktivism’ comes from those who are able-bodied with negative world views as Heather said.

Secondly, as I’ve stated previously ‘slacktivism’ is not an answer to, or coverall method of activism… And even the sites that I’ve referenced in previous blogs are not necessarily able to fix or change everything they aim to even with all their resources.  This article has genuinely influenced my opinion on online activism’s place in the world of social change.  We will always need to adapt and adopt change.  Hell it’s what we’re all fighting for anyway so we need to be aware that the things we once did that worked, may not work again.  Take virality and consider the fact that some famous YouTubers will always be successful, but that most are one-hit-wonders.

The same goes for social innovation.  It’s not called social innovation for no reason.  Let’s focus on the innovation part.

Let’s innovate.

I’m so keen to hear what’s worked for you on any project big or small.  Hit me up.

 

street-corner-smallThe New Street Corner, Photo by Gabriel Beaudry.

Tips and Tricks #2

For this tips and tricks, our activated almonds in their slacktivewear (yes I’m still trying to make this happen, like ‘fetch’ only cooler) are going to run you through some of the wonderful activist work you can actually complete from the comfort of your couch whilst wearing your fluffiest robe and patting your dog!

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Luckily for us, the internet has already come up with so many ways we can contribute to activist causes online.  There are even sites dedicated to helping with not only their chosen causes but to any and all causes its members suggest, or they want to bring to our attention.  See Indiegogo, Change.org, Upworthy, and Take Part.

One of the most successful sites for activism is called Avaaz.  Avaaz has managed to connect more than 10 million people to 46 million causes online.  How?  It’s EASY.  If you log on, you have access to thousands of actions and causes already in progress and you can sign their petitions, contribute to letter-writing campaigns, and be a part of the facilitation of group organisation.  You can even start your own campaign.  In fact most of the causes Avaaz takes up have been members’ suggestions.  And even cooler on their part is that their funding and donations comes wholly from these members.  More than $20 million has already been collected, with each donation having a cap of $5000.

slacktivist-001-small
Activism from where you’d rather be, photo by Nick Turner.

If you aren’t sure you want to start something on your own, we know the task can be daunting, you can use any of these already well-established hubs to join movements, suggest movements and grab info on movements that interest you.

If you are super keen, study what these sites do.  And then replicate it!  All you need is an internet connection, an issue that’s ignited your passion, and a few minutes out of the time you’ve already mentally designated to chillin’ online.

 

 

Tips and Tricks #1

Before we get into the tips and tricks today, I want to introduce you to a couple of health nuts.  Yes, it’s a terrible pun, but if you know anything about me wordplay keeps me going!

Introducing your slacktivated almonds!  These guys will appear at random through my posts.  Mostly for my benefit, no lie.  I love them.  Plus they’re all in slacktivewear!

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Ok so… Tips and Tricks!

Identify the cause.

Once you know the issue you want to tackle, you then need to really get down to the core of it.  If you’re not sure you want to start something on your own, this is the part where you need to do a little research.  Literally I mean a little.  There are so many fantastically inspiring and wonderful do-gooders out there that you could type in some keywords on google and find a hundred pages and people trying to fix the same problem as you. I google searched domestic violence Australia and instantly found 1800Respect and Domestic Violence NSW.

I’d recommend this exercise just as one to restore your faith in humanity.  People want things to be better.  It’s as simple as that.

If you want to start your own movement, your ideas need to be concrete.  Specify, note, research, break apart, expand, drill down.  What are the symptoms of the problem?  Is it systemic?  Know it inside and out.  You can be thinking about this wherever you are.  We all have boring board meetings to attend to, bus and train rides to take, long chats on the phone with that friend who can’t seem to get her love life sorted no matter how good your advice is… There’s a MILLION moments in every day for you to be doing deep or surface level thinking.

 

Nail your objectives to the wall.  (LITERALLY… nails. I want nails.)

What is it that you’re setting out to do?  Do you want to change an attitude?  Do you want to change a behaviour?  Or are your goals more motivational?

It can be all three, it can be more.  But know what your aims are, and know how to talk about them.

 

Read this!

This above is a gold mine for the beginning innovator!  It is an easy read even though it’s academic!  Get used to using Your Slacktivity Feed for these sorts of articles!

 

Finally, research as much as possible.

I don’t mean plumb the depths of the academic archives of your local library, nor even stealing some uni-going friend’s login details for their institution’s online catalogue.  I mean that if you plan on being an activist online, all the stuff you need is all there.  In the ether, in front of you and surrounding you.  You’ll see this stuff in your news feed.  You’ll see this stuff in your conversations.  Because it is IMPORTANT, and it gets a lot of attention.  Research here means, where possible dive as deeply as you can, but where not as easy simply listen.  Listen online to the people you already know.  Listen online to the news media outlets you trust (question these often just by the way, they always have agendas).

Once you’ve listened, you’ll know the path of activism you want to take.

Academic, Schmacademic!

Before we kick off some of the ‘cooler’, more interesting posts, I think it’s super important to deal with some of the academic theory around slacktivism.  Remember, to us here at Your Slacktivity Feed, slacktivism isn’t a dirty word.  But up until now, it’s definitely been treated as one.  Slacktivism to us simply means: the kind of activism that you can complete from the comfort of your own couch, desk, plane, train, automobile.  Cut yourself some slack(tivism).  We can’t always put a hold on all the many things we have going on in our lives to stage a sit in, join a protest march, or picket outside a government building… That’s not to say we shouldn’t make the time, but here we need to also be reasonable.

Our aim and job here is to give you ways to participate in social change in those fleeting moments between your work and home, your meeting and interview.

Why do people think this is bad?  Let’s kick off.

First issue, there are so many social movements that we come into contact with that it becomes so easy to only engage lightly with them.  While that’s true, there are bajillions of problems out there that we need to deal with, engaging lightly with any cause is not an issue.  You’re engaging with it right?  What happens when we engage with something?  We end up more educated than we were before.  And if that engagement has happened publicly before our personal followers, surely their engagement increases as well.

Second.  Engaging in online activism discourages people from a deeper offline engagement (Kingsley, 2011).  Well, this is pretty much just wrong.  I can understand where the worry comes from though, because the high that comes from giving yourself through time, effort or monetary donation is being had through the small tokens of likes and follows.  This would be scary, and something definitely worth some deeper investigation.

For some proof, we turn to some research released in 2012 by Georgetown University.  Their results found:

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Now that that’s over, let’s look at beginning of the more positive spin on slacktivism.  What is the function of online engagement with social causes?  The creation of the critical periphery. “Peripheral users are less active on a per capita basis, but their power lies in their numbers: their aggregate contribution to the spread of protest messages is comparable in magnitude to that of core participants,” (Barberá et al, 2015).  The critical periphery is made up of those people that make a protest, or a movement feel large, go viral and make an impact.  Expressions of solidarity like tagging #JeSuisCharlie or #BringBackOurGirls mean that massive numbers of people around the world can participate in a movement regardless of their physical capacity to be ‘there’, on the ground.

So please, don’t beat yourself up.  Take part in something bigger than yourself.  If you first reaction is to like, follow, share, retweet… Let’s just start there.  It’s ok to let this make you feel good.  People who feel good are more likely to do good.  (Disclaimer: I have no evidence of this last sentence, but it sounds like common sense to me!)