Social media is a powerful tool that can be utilized in many ways. It is never easy for good ideas to catch on and spark an activist movement like #BringBackOurGirls, which was started by a tweet by First Lady Michelle Obama. People using their social media as a technique for activism is referred to as hashtag activism. The term hashtag activism was first used by The Guardian when it was mentioned in context to describe the occupy Wall Street movement. Hashtag activism is mostly used on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Here are some tips on how to be an effective activist through the use of hashtags on social media and ways to spark a social movement:
1. Biggest Social Media Channels – Facebook and Twitter:
Facebook and Twitter are the largest social media channels and best bang for your buck in regards to impact on your social issue. Google+, Instagram, and YouTube are also good sources to use for social media activism.
2. Understand Twitter Lingo:
For Twitter, it is important to get familiar with the Twitter lingo because Twitter is based on the idea of a 24 hour never-ending news cycle. You are provided with a amount characters. It is helpful to learn some shorthand like using “&” instead of the word “and”.
3. Facebook Posting Schedule:
On Facebook, it is important to post 5-10 times a week. Posts should be kept short and sweet. Post at prime times when your followers are most likely to be scrolling through their Facebook news feed.
4. Think Critically:
Do not rely on misleading or inaccurate information. It is important to learn how to question everything you read and fact check. It is also important to allow ideas to develop. If the idea is smart, and you see gradual pickup on social media, let the ideas ride for a while. Experiment to find out which type of content works best.
5. Be Proactive Rather than Reactive:
Instead of getting angry at a post that is either hate-filled, be the bigger person and do not stoop to someone else’s level. As hard as it may be, it is important to keep your ego out of it, not personalizing it, and stick with the case in hand. Mindfulness techniques and staying focused can help you maintain proactivity.
6. Forge an Authentic Voice:
It is important to be honest and genuine in your tone. Your voice should be conversational in nature. Your approachability needs to resonate with your audience and will help create a two-way conversation, rather than simply pushing content to followers. Retweet followers’ tweets.
7. Use Hashtags:
It is all in the name with the use of hashtags. It should be easy to understand, show, and connect to some greater cultural moment on talking points that people can instantly grasp. Some examples of hashtag activism movements include #BringBackOurGirls, #GamerGate, #Kony2012, #YesAllWomen, and etc.
The single golden rule concerning social media activism is to be genuine. Social media is a two-way street and engagement is your key to success. Social media success starts at a micro level. Whether you advocate for animals, reproductive justice, politics, environmental, health issues, poverty/food insecurity, homelessness, veterans, or non-profit organizations, the tips above will help you express yourself to your audience and perpetuate a social movement like #ReadUnwritten.
Featured Image via screengrab from YouTube.