I am helping to write a revised edition of a policy textbook and, as part of the instructors’ materials that will accompany it, the primary author wanted me to highlight some advocacy campaigns that are effectively using social media.
And, the thing is, I was kind of stumped.
Not because I couldn’t think of any good examples, but because, today, I don’t really see very many advocacy campaigns that aren’t integrating online and, in particular, social components into their work.
Even in the time since I started this blog, four years ago, social media’s role in advocacy has changed dramatically. For most of the organizations with which I work, it’s no longer a question of ‘experimenting’ with online outreach or perfunctorily adding a Twitter account.
Most often, the social media that is such a part of how we inform and engage today is woven into every aspect of our advocacy, too.
- We identify issues by ‘listening’ in online streams.
- We manage coalitions through social forums.
- We bypass legislative secretaries and talk straight to policymakers on Twitter.
- We engage our grassroots through Instagram contests, Twitter petitions, and Facebook sharing of infographics.
- We evaluate the effectiveness of our messages through A/B comparisons and electronic surveys.
- We raise money for advocacy through Kickstarter campaigns or social ‘friend recruitment’ strategies.
- We even have specific legal and ethical guidelines for nonprofit advocacy online.
Social media and online activity have changed nonprofit advocacy so thoroughly that it’s difficult to even disaggregate the two, really.
There are instances where the social advocacy comes first, then the nonprofit (Moms Demand Action).
There are nonprofits whose advocacy happens almost entirely online, especially in the international arena.
There are advocacy efforts with outsized impact, because they are so good at making their power echo online, and others that have somewhat fallen from relevance, because they haven’t figured out how to leverage their assets in the online realm.
It’s how we advocate.
It’s who we are.