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The voices of the Egyptian people have been heard around the world. Their defiant cries were projected in the streets, in Tahrir Square, in the heart of Cairo and most importantly, all over social media. Using applications like Facebook and Twitter, young protesters were able to effectively convey their political demands, as well as encourage others to join in on the cause.
While the moment certainly reflects the power of a people’s desire for freedom, it is also a testament to the power of using social media to get people to act. Social media has gone from a growing trend to a must-have tool for non-profits organizations and even governments and leaders across the world.
Develop a New Project
Because of its influencing properties, social media platforms are the jumping off point for starting a cause, much like soapboxes in the early 20th century. However, for the average person who doesn’t already have a large following, getting people to take action behind a cause takes creativity and dedication.
Everyone has an inherent desire to work for the greater good, which is even more true of social media users who have their interests broadcasted to the world. All that they need is something that not only catches their eye, but inspires them to move.
With social media, that means a project that people can join and spread. Think of videos or stories that can be manipulated by users, much like the media mash up site hitRECord, but with a serious message.
Use of Memetic Messages
Building inspiration that leads to action takes much more than a catchy phrase. It takes something that is memetic. What’s memetic? In general, an idea that moves from person to person like a virus. Consider quirky things you say repeatedly, like the classic French phrase, “C’est la vie.” That has memetic quality.
A message has be one that is easily adoptable, yet powerful, and that is easily recognizable. Incorporating these kinds of messages into a project for a cause will increase its appeal to a wider audience.
All effective social media campaigns can employ the previously discussed techniques, but a call to action to get behind a cause brings meaning to the effort. People are always striving for meaning in their lives especially in their communications. A video of a squirrel waterskiing is enough to get millions of views, but it doesn’t motivate people to get active about the rights of animals in water sports.
With a sense of meaning that evokes emotion, social media users will find themselves acting in a variety of ways, from donating money to charitable causes to soliciting friends to volunteer at a local soup kitchen.
Generating support for a cause on social media is the present-day version of town square soapboxes, and inspiring people enough to get them to act still takes a mix of creativity, vision and meaning.