Social Media Primer

What is social media activism?

“The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” (Gil Scott Heron) but it sure will be on social media. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, or YouTube, social media platforms have revolutionized our lives, and that sea-change includes political activism.

Social media can be used in an efficient, productive way to seek support for specific candidates or issues; inspire and motivate volunteers to sign up for specific tasks like a texting campaign or canvassing; inform people of events that they might want to take part in; or get out the vote in a close race.

You can add another dimension to your social media presence by sharing or writing posts that will help save democracy and hold onto the U.S. House and Senate.

Any quick tips?

  • Be sure your social media posts are upbeat and positive to elicit a favorable response, inspire action, and encourage recipients to share your posts.
  • A great post that catches attention one morning may lose its appeal by the end of the day, like yesterday’s newspaper. So when you are letting people know about an event or campaign, you may want to find a different way to remind people in another day or so.
  • Familiarity may breed contempt. Too many posts can turn off your audience.
  • Use a photo or illustration to catch the eye. The image should be related to your message.
  • While Facebook is the biggest online social media presence, don’t ignore Instagram for getting your message out.

How does it work?

Facebook and Twitter offer fast, efficient ways to reach people in real time, and the share buttons allow posts to go viral. Instagram is great for engaging photos and short messages. Reddit, which bills itself as “the front page of the Internet,” attracts young, predominantly male users, but it has a very skeptical fan base. YouTube is a great way for sharing video messages.

To be effective, you need to have a strategy that appeals to your followers so they’ll spread the word. The more people who view your post, the more chances you will have to inform or persuade. The more shares you inspire, the more your message will live on.

Your message also must be clear, well-crafted, brief and to the point. You can find lots of information about drafting messages and developing a strategy in the Social Media Take Action page.

How can I get involved?

You need to have an account on the platforms (Facebook, for example) that you intend to use to get your message out. If you need to sign up for an account, each platform provides easy-to-follow instructions. There also will be information on how to get others to follow your posts and how to follow others.

If you already use one social media platform but want to up your game, try creating accounts in other platforms. This will give your messages more staying power.

Join the Together We Elect Social Media Team. We do the work of creating effective messages that we will send you so you can share on your own. The messages will range from inviting potential volunteers to participate in events or actions, or helping get out the vote efforts. Sign up to become part of the team.