For many of us, a significant portion of our lives takes place on social media. We use it for entertainment, community and building our very own businesses. But it can be hard to know how to bring some of our real life values into the online space. How do we share what we are passionate about, with friends, strangers, and even potential customers/audience members?
As the new Communications Coordinator for Californians for Justice, I get to use social media every week to talk about the issue of racial justice in schools. And before my work with CFJ, I created digital content on platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, and iTunes. I’ve learned that regardless of the platform or the personality of your channel- speaking up about real world issues is always relevant. In my experience, online communities are constantly craving more authentic voices to weigh in! And I think not one of us truly wants to be silent about the issues impact us and our communities.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
This year, I had the privilege of speaking on behalf of Californians for Justice at the 2019 Fresno Women’s Summit about ‘How To Use Social Media for IRL Change’. In case you are ready to cultivate more conversation on your social channels and drive more change, here are a few of the tips I spoke about. These are my top 3 tips for using Using Social Media for IRL Change.
Cheap Seats Carl Is NOT Your Audience
At the summit I asked the audience to raise their hand if they had ever hesitated to post about an issue they cared about. Across the room nearly every hand shot up! What I’ve learned is that we all have one or more people in mind that we think will ‘freak out’ if we talk publicly about an issue. I call this person Carl.
Carl is someone who sits in the cheap seats of the arena- he isn’t using a platform for good, or creating content- but he somehow feels entitled to an opinion on your work.
Let’s clarify something first- Carl is NOT your Audience! (phew..you can breathe now.)
Your first priority is always to serve your audience- the people you are burning to impact. And odds are, if someone ended up hitting that follow button on your social media account, they want to hear what You have to say!
So when you get the urge to share or create a post about an issue you care about- remember to imagine the profound impact it could have on your audience, vs what Carl will say to you at work the next day.
Sharing IS Actually Caring
If you are afraid to start sharing your own opinions about topics- it is ALWAYS OK to share posts from people you agree with. When it comes to issues we are passionate about- we don’t always have the words- especially with breaking news popping up every hour or so!
Try sharing posts from 1-3 accounts that you trust, that regularly post about the issues you value. Non-profits dedicated to the specific issues you care about are great accounts to look for- and also, other influencers that are using their voice regularly to speak up.
Examples of sharing posts are:
- Retweeting on Twitter
- Sharing a post on Instagram Story
- Sharing a post on Facebook
- Linking a blog post or YouTube video in your IG profile
With Californians for Justice, we are regularly releasing statements and blog posts about racial justice issues, school safety, and LGBQ+TGNC rights. If those are topics you care about, we’d love your shout outs and shares!
Further the Conversation
Sometimes reposting is all we have capacity for- but if you’re ready to spend more time creating serious impact around a topic, your social media feed is the perfect place to start! In fact- as a social media consumer, I have found that platforms like Instagram are uniquely stacked towards having meaningful conversations. Here are a few IG specific ideas to go deeper with your audience on important issues.
- When you are creating your content calendar, look for social media or world holidays that could be opportunities to share your thoughts on a topic. You can share your thoughts in a blog, IGTV video, IG Stories, or an IG post.
- Ask a non-profit to do a IG Story Takeover on your account! If you’re passionate about National Parks, @parksproject is an incredible IG account to reach out to. Most non-profits have communications staff members that are always looking for opportunities to share about the positive work they do- and even give a fun sneak peek into their work day!
- Do an IG live chat with a non-profit! One of my favorite IG features is watching live chats- especially when a guest is invited on! You can give your audience advanced notice and give them an opportunity to send questions in advance about the issues. For example- with all of the immigration issues going on right now- it would be incredible to speak with a non-profit that does work in that area.You can have your audience sign up for your email list, and send them the video after you go live! That way everyone has an opportunity to watch.
- Do a unique collaboration with a non-profit. If there is an issue you care deeply about, and want to create more long term impact, content and product collaborations can be so effective! Just think about Starbucks partnering with RED to sell their cups and further the visibility of that cause. Think about Ben & Jerry’s releasing social justice ice cream flavors! Their “Save Our Swirled” helped bring awareness to climate change back in 2015 and they’re now partnering with racial justice organizations like Advancement Project and Color of Change to address cash bail reform, mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline. If there is a cause that you care about, email a non-profit about a collaboration idea! Or if the non-profit is local and accessible to you- grab a cup of coffee and talk about an exciting collaboration.
After the Fresno Women’s Summit I felt so inspired to connect more deeply to my community of Fresno creatives, and talk about collectively using our voice for good! So I hope these tips help you feel empowered to share more openly about the causes you care about.
If you are interested in partnering with Californians for Justice to talk about racial justice, school safety, and investing more in our public schools- you can sign up for our Influencer! We are currently rolling out campaigns and are always looking to collaborate!
If you would like to work on a unique collaboration with CFJ, you can reach me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org