Social media has been a critical tool in community organizing and political mobilization over the past decade. We saw its impact through the Arab Spring, and continue to see it on national and global agendas with defense issues like cybersecurity, as well as in grassroots organizing communities like intersectional third wave/new wave feminism and...
Social media has been a critical tool in community organizing and political mobilization over the past decade. We saw its impact through the Arab Spring, and continue to see it on national and global agendas with defense issues like cybersecurity, as well as in grassroots organizing communities like intersectional third wave/new wave feminism and inclusion. As part of my research at Fission, I intend to explore and define the qualities and characteristics of grassroots implemented campaigns versus online platforms.
One of the major reasons online campaigns are successful is because of their inclusion of marginalized communities. Studies have found that twitter users are the most diverse of users, because of widespread access to smartphones. A former intern at Fission, Tanea, found that minority millennials are more likely to access media through mobile.
Additionally, LGBTQ political participation has increased with online resources. Their internet presence and community helped push Facebook to include a custom gender selection for its users who identify outside of the male/female binary. The website is now rumored to be adding around 56 more options.
Online campaigns respond in real time to natural disasters and current events. #kony2012, for example, helped raise the awareness of millions of viewers from a variety of social media outlets, ultimately leading to political action by the U.S. Senate to make a resolution and send troops by the way of the African Union. Recent trending political campaigns, such as #raisetheminimumwage, lead to productive discourse, inform folks of real-life events such as political protests, and help build solidarity and community.
Successful campaigns birth others like it. The hashtag #girlslikeus started by Janet Mock, #notyourasiansidekick by Suey Park, and #solidarityisforwhitewomen by Mikki Kendall are interrelated, and respond to progress. This past week, #CancelColbert made waves.
But a major part of these successes is because of their translation into real life community building and action. I’d contend that organizations that use a hybridization of an online and offline approach are the most successful: Change, Avaaz, All Out, and Fast Food Forward being major leaders in the charge, as well as The United We Dream Network which works to stop deportations from using online resources from storytelling to online petitions.
Hybridization of online and offline action have led to successful movement building. Some of these online actions have been evolving in response to recent changes to Facebook and other platforms, such as the algorithm change. They have adapted their outreach strategies because of AB variation testing, meta-data implementation, and action kits that integrate analyses of outreach, like ShareProgress. At Fission, we work to define characteristics of communities for each campaign and then use existing tools to reach those audiences.
Read on in the next couple of weeks for Abigail and my best practices guide on creating a successful hybrid campaign as well as specific characteristics of a variety of campaigns in the past couple years.