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So You Wanna Be A Social Media Activist?

A practical 5 step guide to change the world from your bedroom!

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Flip through the first few pages of a newspaper and it becomes evident how desperate the world is in need of change, may it be because of contentious elections in the West, religious wars in the Middle East or the ubiquitous climate change affects. Change traditionally has always been inspired by some form of mass mobilization but could there be a tool out there to catapult these efforts to greater heights?

From #BlackLivesMatter to #UmbrellaRevolution, the use of social media has ushered us into a new era of grassroots activism. The #IceBucketChallenge of 2014, popularized through Facebook and Twitter, is a great example. The outcome of this highly successful social media campaign was generation of $100 million in donations from around the world in support of ALS research.

India's biggest ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

View this video on YouTube

It's easy to think that these successful social media campaigns were flukes. However, in reality, these campaigns (successful ones) are a result of directed labour and planning. Following is a list of what some of these campaigns have in common..

That's right! Although campaigns and social movements appear serious due to the nature of the initiative and goal, it is necessary that they are kept light, especially when using social media primarily. A great tip to carry one's social media campaign would be to use humour. It allows for greater interaction and easier reception of information by people on social media, belonging to various demographics. Also in this viral age; where each post must compete with another for mass following. Humour will definitely allow one's work to stand out and be shared across the internet.

On social media, all content competes for attention. Since these online platforms are designed to support more entertainment based content, drawing attention towards something with a more serious message and agenda is hard. A successful campaign requires a proper timeline. Not only does this allow you to be consistent with posting but also avoids dumping too much information at one period. Well planned social media campaigns are often economical, easy to manage as well as easy to track following. Good examples of well planned campaigns are #NoDAPL and #LetAymanReport

Pop cultural figures could be great resources when promoting social media campaigns. Actors, politicians, public figures, sportsmen and sportswomen are all excellent examples of celebrity figures that generally have a wide public following and fan base that can be mobilised to advance a cause.

Take for example, Emma Watson who is know the world over as the ginger mudblood. However, one glance at the actress cum UN Goodwill Ambassador's twitter account and it becomes evident her push for social issues, such as the UN Women's #HeForShe. By combining her fan following with the following of this campaign, she becomes successful in generating a greater awareness to this and many other such causes. Therefore, drawing the attention of a celebrity via social media would help your cause tremendously!

4. #HashtagsArePowerful

Twitter: @AlabedBana / Via

Bana, a young Syrian girl, has become a popular figure on twitter in connection with the Syrian war. With nearly 100,000 followers, she has received the attention other public figures such as J. K. Rowling. She is known for popularising #Aleppo

Since their birth within the Twitter community, the use of hashtags have grown in popularity over the years and today are considered a vital part of social media syntax. They are powerful tools for branding one's campaign and organizing content of the same nature (activism in this case). The use of hashtags almost always guarantees a high online following, as it is easy to find a large body of information when guided by a simple search term; especially on the internet.

The only rules when it comes to deciding the best hashtag are, keep them short, catchy and relevant. Also, make sure that hashtags are used consistently across all social media.

Tonight we have no house, it's bombed & I got in rubble. I saw deaths and I almost died. - Bana #Aleppo

Privacy when dealing with activism related work online can become quite challenging. The knowledge and infrastructure to attack ones digital privacy is fairly straightforward, accessible and available on the internet. Keeping your projects secure and contacts safe from persecution by government agencies, ISPs, and mobile companies who have privileged access to infrastructure and possess advanced hacking technology is crucial.

The following is a list of useful internet security tools and privacy resources:

* Security in-a-box

* Mobiles in-a-box

* Tor

* Front Line Defenders

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