How To Use Social Media To Drive Change
Last Friday the Global Climate Strike took action across the world and since I was in Hamburg visiting my family and friends, I and asked my Grandma to come with me - we even made signs! We turned up at the meeting point and so did 70.000 other people. Why? Social Media.
With Greta Thunberg as a role model, young generations have taken to social media and to the streets to fight for what they believe in, whether that be climate change, gender equality, body neutrality, LGBTQ+ rights or any other issue we are currently facing. Social media can often have quite a bad rep, in terms of its effect on mental health, but we also have to acknowledge how powerful a tool it can be, when used for good. Possibly the biggest and best example is the #metoo movement, which only became as big as it did because millions of individuals across the world shared their story under the same hashtag. Sexual abuse didn’t only just start at that time, it’s been around forever, but the movement made sure that the people affected had a voice and a space to share. When people across the world wrote their stories, following didn’t matter, social status didn’t matter and neither did political or religious orientation - what mattered was that they had shared their truth. Millions shared (to date on Instagram there is 2.2M posts under the hashtag #metoo) and their collective story was heard. The magnitude meant that we started to realise this was a problem of our society, not of individuals and had nothing to do with someone’s looks, the way they dress or act. It opened a conversation channel, it demanded accountability, it prompted change - and still is. This example paired with Greta’s incredible story, which by now I’m sure you’re familiar with, just to illustrate the power social media can have. Now what happens if we harnessed it and took inspiration for our channels, to be a space not used for pure narcissism (some is allowed tough ;) ), but to drive change.
Here’s a few tips on how to use your social media channels for good:
Choose the cause closest to your heart
Weather it’s climate change, sustainable fashion, girl’s education, period poverty, homelessness or body positivity, we all have that one issue that we care for really deeply and if we were granted only one wish we would choose to solve.
You will find that more often than not all issues are somehow connected and you will feel the need to talk about everything, but try to remember that you are just one person and that you can’t solve all world problems simultaneously. Instead your work would benefits a lot more if you are able to efficiently focus on one issue and provide helpful tools for people to use in their daily lives.
Find your community
Online activism can often feel like a hard and lonely road, especially in those moments of doubt where you feel like no one is hearing you. Those moments always creep in and are of course, fuelled by self-doubt, so having an online community that is also ‘fighting the good fight’, will make you feel like you are the Avengers squad of activism - invincible! You can always rely on their content to inspire you to keep fighting for what you believe in and use your platforms for good. You could also start an Instagram/Facebook group with the community and keep an open and honest conversation going at all times. Share your worries, fears and obviously successes no matter how small or big.
Don’t post for the sake of posting. It has become more and more clear that what people engage most with online is authentic content, so only post when you feel like your post will truly give your audience #qualitycontent - something of value. What you post should inspire, educate and inform your followers, so that they will want to come back for more valuable content.
Take Jameela Jamil as a great example for someone that truly uses their social media for good. The actress posts about inclusivity and intersectionality on a daily basis both on her personal account as well as her campaign account called I Weigh and the posts are often educational, sometimes funny and always to the point.
Share with positivity
There is always a way and there is always a solution. Try to stay positive and practice blind optimism by sharing solution-led tips and insights with your followers who might be aware of the problem if they have sought out your account and are following you, but will more often than not need advice on how to change things in their daily lives. Who should they follow, which petitions should they sign, what can they easily implement in their daily lives? Your account should be all about hope and tangible change.
Engage with your audience
This one is key. If you have the time and capacity try to answer as many comments, dm’s, story replies and emails as you can since you want to be the most helpful you possibly can to your audience. This way you are actively helping them make change happen through social media, and your followers will feel like they are doing so with a friend instead of by themselves - as mentioned before, it really can feel like a lonely road! Try to ask them questions as often as possible and really get to know your followers so that you can keep producing really informed content to help them out to the best of your ability. You could also organize some offline, informal get-togethers with your community to connect on a more human level. Bringing it all into the physical world will make your realise how important your online work is and push you to do even more. Who knows, maybe you will meet some incredible like-minded people that you can collaborate with and reach even wider audiences with your message of change.
Lastly, remember you are winning even if your aunt texts you saying she will try a plant-based diet for a month! Every little success is still a success!
Do you have any other tips I might have missed here that you find important? Would love to know!