By Adam Rosenberg
Click. Click. Click.
Tweet. Tweet. Tweet.
Like. Like. Like.
We’re firmly entrenched in the era of “click activism” – where all one needs to do to be involved in a cause or issue is simply click “like” or “retweet” on an idea or group. As discussed thoroughly in Malcolm Gladwell’s recent piece in The New Yorker – while the bar of entry into the world of social activism has been made lower by social networks and the ability to click your way to public support of an issue, it only scratches the surface on what truly drives real activism and change.
Organizing is the crucial second, third, and fourth steps to creating change once you’ve used your Facebook group to get one million supporters, or 500 RSVPs to your event, or gained 1,200 followers on your Twitter account. The methods with which you can promote your cause or issue through social networks are endless but in the end these are still just tools to use in your journey to create change. Without organizing and creating infrastructure – social media activism around your issue becomes just a click-propelled Internet meme; a trending topic earning its 15 minutes of visibility but with no clear goals or accomplishments. Organizing and setting clear goals for your issue, while literally creating a roadmap to guide you and your supporters, helps chart victory.
It’s not as daunting a task as it sounds. You must only ask yourself: “Ok, what do I want these people to do?”. Real action comes from delegating tasks and the creating the ability to get involved in a multi-faceted way to your supporters. It’s great to use Facebook or Twitter as a hub for raising awareness of your issue – but without clear goals and “real life” tasks and asks, those followers and supporters are just numbers. After you’ve gained followers, figure out what they can do to best further your organizations cause and reach your goals. Sometimes its writing letters to influencers in government, other times it might be making phone calls to assist in a GOTV effort. The benefit of social networks is the ease in which people can share information with one another, organizing them is what truly harnesses their power by giving you the ability to treat the supporter in Springfield, IL differently than the one in Philadelphia, PA. Organizing and creating tasks related to real actions and goals means the difference between a popular Facebook cause and engaged supporters on an issue.
Getting supporters to RSVP to a Facebook event is only part of the process in creating real change and activism. You must be prepared to ask people to do something after the click. That’s not to say that organizing can’t be done from your couch – but successful community organizing works in concert with social media outreach. It’s where you ask your thousands of Facebook supporters to join your email list, to tell their family and friends to donate, or even generate multimedia vehicles telling their personal story on the issue.
As technology continues to adapt around us to further lower the bar of entry into engagement in a social issue – we need to consistently follow up with supporters once they become engaged. The growth of social networks deserves an enormous amount of credit in this area as they’ve allowed millions to become at least aware of issues they otherwise may not know about. Giving them the tools to carry the banner of your cause and further broaden your support are the key steps after the “click”.
Adam Rosenberg is the Communications Director for Salsa Labs, Inc. (www.Salsalabs.com) – a technology company providing online organizing tools to nonprofits and advocacy groups. He recently moderated a panel as part of CSVC’s fall speaker series entitled “Social Media: Game Changer or World-Changer.”