Why you should use social media to support your cause
- Published: 08 November 2014
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Whether you’re involved in social, political, economic or environmental activism, there are many tools to give a voice to help you achieve your goals. While there are many effective activism skills and tools offline, one of the best ways to get your message out is online, and in particular by utilising social media platforms. With tools such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, as well as blogs, forums and websites, online activism has never been more prevalent and indeed, easier, writes Leigh-Chantelle.
9 November 2014
Online is always evolving and the customer/viewer is now in control. Before, a press release was targeted to the media who would write an article that would then be read by consumers.
Now Social media links individuals to select what they want and who they trust before they read. Social media shows consumers behind the scenes, letting them know why they should engage and how and what ways to engage with a brand or group.
Social media focuses more on the process and not just the outcome. Social media recognises the power of a creative network and not a strict hierarchy, therefore it is less formal and more engaging.
Social media is a great cost-saving way, somewhat, to promote your idea and your passions and to build an online community of followers. Video cameras, editing software, microphones, computers and laptops are now affordable and this gives many more people the opportunity to create, edit and spread information more easily and cheaply.
By utilising these new ways of creating, editing and spreading information, social media has become mainstream, with many people taking part.
Social media facts and figures*:
- Registered Users: Facebook – 1.23 billion, Twitter – 645 million, Google+ – 1 billion, Pinterest – 70 million
- Monthly Active Users: Facebook – 1.15 billion, Twitter – 215 million, Google+ – 359 million, Pinterest – 20 million, Instagram – 200 million, YouTube – 1 billion
- 72% of all internet users are now active on social media
- Time spent on Social media networks per hour by country: USA – 16 minutes, Australia – 14 minutes, UK – 13 minutes
- 71% of users access social media from a mobile device
- 70% of marketers used Facebook to gain new customers
- Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are the top 3 social media sites used by marketers.
- Google+ is projected to pass Facebook in social shares in 2016
- Facebook and Instagram users sign in everyday.
- Facebook is #1 for the amount of profiles, but the demographic is getting older
- YouTube is the #2 search engine on the internet with the most engaged traffic
Social media controls the influence of public opinion. No longer do people look only to the government, teachers, parents, church and the mainstream media for advice, they are now turning to advice from their peers.
Utilise this by sharing online content that matters to you and to others in your arena. Provide value to your readers by focusing on relevant and up to date information shared on a regular basis. Have something meaningful to say by knowing your topic well and knowing your audience. Think outside the square. Have a unique focus or approach.
What social media sites should I use?
To give your audience what they want and expect, you have to know where your audience spends their time online.
Facebook is where most people are online across all demographics.
People watch YouTube videos to be entertained or to get information.
Twitter is micro-blogging and short bursts of information very regularly.
Pinterest, Tumblr and Instagram are image-based and quite informal.
LinkedIn works well for personal branding, peer review and professional networking.
Google+ is steadily growing with a lot more conversation happening.
More and more people are leaving Facebook due to design updates, pay-to-play and privacy issues.
Wherever your audience is, you need to be.
- 55-64% age bracket is the fastest growing demographic.
- Instagram users are mostly women, with 90% under 35.
- Social media sites are also seeing a gender split with women using social media more than men.
- More women are on Facebook (57% of users) and Twitter (59% of users).
- Pinterest has the heaviest gender imbalance with women making up 82% of users, who pin crafts, gift ideas, hobbies, interior design and fashion.
- Google+ is dominated by men (68%)
- LinkedIn reports an even ratio of men and women: 49% over age 45 who use the site to connect with other business professionals.
Facebook is still the first place to start your social media education. Twitter is second and maybe even on par. If you have a lot of photos to share, look to Pinterest and Instagram. If you have videos or the potential to make videos, use YouTube or Vimeo.
There is nothing wrong with having an online presence across all of the social media platforms. In fact, I would encourage it – remember though that you have to maintain these channels. Whatever you create online, remember to cross-promote your work everywhere online including your blog, e-newsletters, forums, podcasts, social media websites, videocasts, and website.
Data is generated more freely and easily than before and is created mostly by amateurs who then sell the community to others.
If you are lazy, this is unfortunate as the culture asks a lot from individuals. Updating regularly, allowing others access to your life, being online to answer questions, continuing on with developing your community, reaching out to others and more.
You need to have good time management skills and keep topics up to date. Set expectations of when you or your team will be online and when you will respond.
Post regularly, not as often as possible. Whenever you decide to post, remember to be consistent. It’s better to post once a week than posting every day for three weeks and then not at all.
Ideas for shareable content online
If you want to create Conversation: ask questions that will engage your fan base and encourage answers.
If you want to Educate and Inform: share podcasts, transcripts, eBooks, facts, lists/top 10, how to’s and reviews.
If you want to share Visuals: upload photos, images, infographs, videos, eBooks and presentations.
If you want to Link to your website: share blogs, articles, online store, recipes etc from your own website.
If you want to gauge Opinions: ask your Fans for their opinions and feedback on upcoming, new or existing products or services.
If you want to Entertain: share podcasts, videos, presentations and music.
If you want to be Inspirational: upload quotes, music and fascinating facts.
Remember to focus more on visuals and to share at least 5 times more content from other sources before you share your own content. Sharing your own content all of the time can seem like spam.
Remember that people learn more from seeing visuals than they do from seeing a lot of text or too much information. Mix it up.
A good idea is to break each week into different content relating to a particular day eg Mondays – Articles, Tuesdays – Quotes, Wednesdays – Blogs or Podcasts, Thursdays – Videos and Fridays – Photos.
Why do I have to pay for social media?
Twitter recently started adding content to users’ timelines, Facebook uses the Edgerank algorithm to work out what news is most important at the top of your news feed. YouTube constantly plays advertisements before most videos start.
Organic, non-paid content started to decline with Facebook a few years ago, and it’s starting to on other social media platforms as well.
Do you have to now pay to be seen online? The answer – in particular with Facebook – is a resounding YES.
Think about the amount of work you or your team put into updating your social media profiles.
Do you need to post less frequently, but post more informative posts?
Do you need to seriously decide if Facebook is still the place for your brand to be?
Track your success with your posts online. If what you’re doing is working, then keep doing that. Years ago, organic content was seen most of the time.
If your hard work creating original organic content is not being seen and interacted with, then you need to start paying so that it is seen. Think of putting aside a budget, not just for social media marketing but also for paid advertising online.
Be aware of what you share
Be careful what you share online because everything is a permanent reflection of you or your company/group that may never be erased.
If you have various people posting on behalf of your company, make sure that everyone knows the goals of the company. Ensure that people know what to post as well as what not to post.
Always use the correct grammar, punctuation and spelling.
If you wouldn’t say it to someone’s face or mail it on a postcard, don’t say it online.
Keep private matters private.
If an issue arises, deal with it by sending a private message or email. Don’t attack people or be disrespectful. Consider how someone will react before you post something.
Also, consider how the content you share is positive or negative for your company. Don’t abbreviate or use slang. Just because you know what it means, doesn’t mean others will.
Keep up to date with what’s happening in your movement by attending meetings and getting involved the best way you can. Support other groups and events. Attend everything you can, even if you don’t agree with the group, people or the topics. Keep an open mind to learn more.
If you’re starting out, meet as many people as you can and then be selective with who you want to hang around with. Take some time out for yourself, completely removed from your activism.
Remember to promote the positive as you build your community online and offline. Be genuine and honest with everything you do. Lead by example. Keep your mind on your goals.
Stay focused and believe that you are part of the change that this world truly needs.
Read my Top 10 Tips for Online Etiquette.
Watch my Marketing Yourself Using Social media Talk & Workshop with Leigh-Chantelle workshop
Leigh-Chantelle is a published author, international speaker, singer/songwriter and blogger who lives mostly in Brisbane, Australia. She created and has run the popular online multimedia community VivalaVegan.net for almost 10 years. She gives in-person and online coaching for Social media Marketing, Online Etiquette, Staging Effective Events and Engaging Volunteers - amongst other topics.
Find Leigh-Chantelle and Viva la Vegan! on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube and iTunes.
Marketing Yourself Using Social media Talk & Workshop with Leigh-Chantelle workshop