Success in social media is about creating conversations. The idea is simple: Put online what is pressing at the right time, popularise it, accord it high visibility, and ensure it is a low-effort, high-impact affair. PHOTO | FILE .
Success in social media is about creating conversations.
The idea is simple: Put online what is pressing at the right time, popularise it, accord it high visibility, and ensure it is a low-effort, high-impact affair.
Just like that, you become a social media activist.
And the opportunities for social media campaigns abound. Perhaps it is this fact that injects fleeting enthusiasm into the minds of many.
For, in almost every sector, there are to be found those who illegalise what is genuine, invalidate what is right and mock what is irreproachable.
Expectant, we take to social media. We create pages, upload videos, post tweets and initiate online campaigns. The online citizenry likes, shares and/or retweets. Noise is made. Petitions are signed.
But suddenly the din dies down; the posts and videos become a blur in an online world where millions others are uploaded every second. Deflated, everybody retreats to their enclaves and leave a few spirited ones to carry on with the crusade.
SOCIAL MEDIA ACTIVISM
But establishing a workable social media strategy is about more than posting an update to inform or demand – it goes beyond relevance or appeal.
Success is about being able to create and maintain a conversation with your audience. John Rampton, writing in Forbes, says: “If you’re not generating conversations or new subscribers, or making any money, then whatever you’re doing has failed.”
The idea is that there is no point creating something, however worthwhile, if nobody is going to check it out, to endorse it.
Ory Okolloh, in her blog, Kenyan Pundit, exemplifies social media activism that attempts to create and keep conversations going. The comments that follow each post are not just those of writers, but hers as well.
Sometimes, she will take a reader’s comment and weave it into her own script, thereby sustaining one continuous conversation that touches on a range of matters on society, politics and governance.
It helps that she writes to try and influence a change in attitudes – what this does is that it gives people a chance to reflect, seek opinions and weigh in, and to be part of the conversation. People tune out if all one does is shouting without listening.
In a league of its own is Jackson Biko’s Bikozulu which, though not about activism, hoists up and breezes one along with its beautiful prose.
Bikozulu is unique in that the author gives readers space to post their own stories. If the blog were about activism – admittedly, this is pure conjecture – it is something that even those glorified social media snobs would find hard to pass up.
The thing is, social media campaigns need to cause a buzz for them to have impact. Facebook is great because it is the most commonly used social medium.
But it may not be for you if your aim is to promote a jigger-eradication campaign, for example. That is something better articulated through YouTube – show people something that affects their emotions and you will have won them over. Twitter, on the other hand – at least that is how it has been profiled – simply won’t work if people do not know you.
Want people to boycott a certain brand because the company slaves its workers 15 hours a day and pays them less than half the minimum wage?
Assuming you can articulate that in 120 characters; who are you? Why should we listen to you? How many followers do you have? Are they hooked enough to keep retweeting what you say ... But put that same message on Facebook, packaged in a brief video or an appropriate captioned photo and you create enough attention to influence.
At this point, Dead Beat Kenya comes to mind. The narrative on its page reads thus: “A descriptive term that refers to parents of either gender, who have freely chosen not to be supportive, or who do not pay their child-support obligations”.
For the duration it was open to subscription, it created fervour alright, and even had most FM stations holding discussions about it.
Anonymous voices found expression. But then it all died down. So, how many men began paying upkeep after their photos and phone numbers were splashed online?
We will never know. For one, it is a crude way of righting a wrong and, besides, those “accused” do not get the chance to tell their version of the story.
Social media activism, just like every other cause, is all about strategy.
Lose the plan and you will have lost the game.