Today we are able to expand the reach of social good by exponential numbers never dreamed of years ago. This post is for individual advocates who wish to open up their social networks to a cause and humanize their online world. These five steps use common social media platforms without the use of html, invites, or applications. When completed in succession over time, this process will give a glimpse into your soul, as opposed to “airing” a public service announcement.
Two quick notes:
– For professional advocacy organizations looking for an in depth post, the Global Voices Advocacy blog has an excellent summary, “The Four C’s Social Media Framework” .
– For advocates of human rights and civil rights residing in repressive areas, place your security first. There are excellent resources for online activism that maintain your privacy. Please visit Tactical Technology Collective “Security in a Box”, Meta-Activism “Better in the Dark”, and WITNESS.org’s “Protecting yourself, your subjects and your human rights videos on YouTube.”
FIVE INFLUENTIAL STEPS
As you follow each step, keep all tabs in your browser open. These steps initiate a relationship between your network and your cause, but the repetition of these steps creates a bond. The ultimate connection occurs when you consistently tell the story of the nonprofits work as events unfold over time. The heart of your cause lives within this story.
1) Newsletter: For individual advocates, connecting with a nonprofit that champions your cause is an important start. Finding the right nonprofit may require a few minutes of research. The online nexus of global and local nonprofits is the top notch Change.org. Click the logo below to read their blogs, find nonprofit profiles and subscribe to a nonprofit’s newsletter. The most powerful tool you can have is an easy link source for your cause. Now the important information will come to you.
When you receive the newsletter, click a link that strikes your heart to open a browser. Read the page on the nonprofit’s site, complete the action first (donation, petition, etc.), then copy the url in the url box. Keep this browser open as you continue this process.
Note: If you choose a link from the nonprofits newsletter that involves a petition or email action, your information may pre-populate the field when you arrive. Be sure to complete the action first and then link to the follow up page. The nonprofit’s website will usually have options for posting to social media sites on the follow up page.
2) Facebook: Copy the link and open your personal Facebook profile in a new browser. Under the “NewsFeed”, click on the “link” icon. The link icon looks like a tack holding a piece of paper upright. Paste the link into the box that opened up and click “Attach” . A picture from the site and the first few lines of the page’s text should appear. Click through the picture thumbnail options for an appropriate one. Most importantly, a second box opens up to “Say something about this link…”. Write a short note about what the link means to you personally. Click the blue “share” button to send the update into your friend’s news feed.
3) Twitter: You are going to need a two to three tweets to interact, build your story, educate, and tweet the link. Be as personal as possible to your branding. Tweet what the cause means to you, ask your followers what they know about the cause, tweet interesting facts, then tweet the link. Most importantly, do not hit and run or it will come across as a curiosity piece.
4) You Tube: Go to your YouTube channel and do a search for your nonprofits channel, then subscribe to it. Choose a video that relates to the link you have been sharing on Facebook and Twitter. Click on the video’s “favorite” tab. If they do not have a channel, search for one of their videos and then click on the video’s favorite tab. This will post it to your YouTube “activity” feed on your profile.
Share the video to you other profiles: Click the “Share” button and then the Facebook icon. In the pop up window, write how the video relates to the link you posted in step one for Facebook. Repeat the same process for Twitter. If you hold an accounts, repeat the same for MySpace and Google Buzz. Videos work wonderfully in Buzz, so write an intriguing comment in the YouTube share box. If you use Buzz, open another tab to respond to Buzz comments.
5) Blog it: With the previous steps above open in tabs, you now have many references to what you have a passion for. You have a nonprofit site page, a related video, and the newsletter with additional information and links. You are also responding to your friends in real-time as they comment on Twitter, Facebook, Buzz, and YouTube.
Because you have wonderful feedback, your blog post should reflect the comments and questions that your network and friends highlight. Keep in mind, your strategy is your heart. You have been posting a link to your profiles for a reason deep within you. Soul search and let the story flow. The most important part of your post is a strong call to action towards the end.
In the post, directly quote the mission statement of the nonprofit in quotation marks and link to their “About Us” page. Add the video that you posted to your profiles and link to the nonprofits YouTube page. Remember that it is best to directly quote the nonprofit in regards to exact statistics or scientific information.
Be personally involved, trust your audience and make sure that your audience knows these are your feelings. Pull from all the resources you have in front of you. You are an advocate with a passion. The story of your connection to the cause is going to have more power than an informational analysis. If you have questions yourself, you will quickly get an answer if you call up the nonprofit and ask for their media relations department. They will most likely email you what you need.
Close the blog loop, be grateful, prepare for repetition: If you do not have your blog feed linked to Facebook or Twitter, copy your blog post url and repeat steps two, three and share to Buzz. If you hold an account on MySpace, post your blog link in your stream. Interact and thank everyone in your network who comments, retweets and shares your updates. Everyone! Because you will be repeating the process weekly, you are a liason to meaningful change. Keeping your network up-to-date with consistent narrative will make a difference.
Update 1/3/2011: This page is updated to reflect changes to personal Facebook profiles.