Social media for social change requires a great social media strategy to promote or launch a cause. This can be achieved by following seven simple tips.
Social change in India is most often a myth. People associate themselves with groups and forums they believe would bring a social change. Often, this is not true, as experiences of some social organizations will prove.
Therefore, your social change organization will require a great social media strategy to promote or launch a cause. This can be achieved by following seven simple tips. However, you need to understand the reasons for failure and challenges faced by social change organizations to develop an effective outreach strategy.
Failure of social media for social change in India
There are several reasons for this apathy among Indian masses, especially users of social media.
Firstly, organizations prefer quantity over quality. Meaning, if a social media page on Facebook or a blog has more followers, the idea is considered successful. Unfortunately, social change advocates forget, some followers could be there merely because they clicked the ‘like’ button inadvertently.
Secondly, comments on blogs indicate, the reader has understood little about what was written. Often, blog owners fail to target the correct readership. Thirdly, most social change ‘advocates’ in this country are self-styled operators with little or no major credentials. Thirdly, social change advocacy groups fail to deliver promised results, leading to discontent among genuine followers and supporters.
Thirdly, social change advocates are viewed with great suspicion by the masses here. Mostly, people perceive them as part of an elite system prone to corruption. A lot of social change advocacy groups have indeed fallen victim to malpractices. Hence, social media websites are seen more as an extension of propaganda for some ulterior motive.
Challenges faced by social change groups on social media
Undoubtedly, India has a very high proliferation of Internet. Bulk Indian users are connected to the Internet through smart phones. These mobile subscribers use the Internet for communications and entertainment only.
India has some 241 million Facebook users, the highest in the world. Sadly, Facebook in India has fewer pages of social change.
Social change advocacy groups and organizations in India face resource paucity and cannot hire professional social media experts. Several groups and organizations have novices to handle social media.
You can overcome these challenges by following these seven vital tips:
Tip-1: Select your geographical area and demographics
Undeniably, India is a vast country. Indeed, it is like 35 separate countries- each with different languages, culture and issues – united under one flag and Constitution. Hence, there are countless issues that require social change.
Therefore, such scenarios demand you focus on a specific area of the country for a definitive cause.
Further, you need to draw boundaries for your geographical area. This can be a village, town, district, city or state.
Once you have identified your area of operation, the next important thing is to identify the target population. This can be teenagers, women, working person, business persons or anyone whom you wish to reach out in the area of social change. Good examples are targeting teenagers for a social change campaign against eve-teasing or farmers to build public toilets in remote villages.
A bad example would be a social change campaign aimed at getting working women in cities like Mumbai to avoid fast food.
Focused targeting of a geographical area and the demographic group helps you concentrate efforts. You will have more ardent followers and supporters since they are genuinely interested in the social change you advocate.
Tip-2: Educate your target audience
Most social change initiatives are destined to doom because they fail to educate people. Obviously, any social change is for the people. It will be brought about by people. Humans, by nature, tend to identify themselves with a specific cause. However, their ideas about the cause for social change are rather fuzzy. Hence, you need to educate your target audience and influence their thinking. Effective influencing help win over more supporters.
Social media is a great influencer and an excellent educational resource. However, you need to be unequivocal about your social change, ways and means to achieve it while enumerating how followers or supporters can participate and add value. Having a few hundred followers on social media who have vague ideas about a social change initiative is unhelpful and can prove counterproductive.
Tip-3: Get renowned advocates to endorse your social change initiative
As explained earlier, India has no dearth of self-styled social change advocates. Understandably, most of these are genuinely interested in social change. However, there are some who advocate social change in various spheres but have dubious credentials. Yet others are affiliated with some political party.
For obvious reasons, people are wary of supporting social change promoted by unknown people, those with shady background or those with allegiance to any particular political party. Hence, it is vital for your organization to find renowned social change advocates who have impeccable credentials.
Have this renowned personality endorse your social change initiative on your social media. This endorsement can be messages, words of encouragement, quotes or simply pictures with the public.
Here, we stress on the word ‘advocates’ since they will have their own individual followings. This can translate into more followers of your social media posts.
Tip-4: State your social change objectives clearly on social media
This is extremely important if you wish to see results of your social media initiative and have a large following. Most social media experts fail to explicitly state the objectives of the social change campaign.
A bad example of such social change objective is: “Empowerment of women.” The stated objective is rather ambiguous since there are several spheres of empowerment of women- literacy and education, financial uplift, healthcare, the list goes on.
A good example of clear objective would be: “Encouraging use of sanitary napkins in Mumbai.” The example may sound impolite or raucous or even vulgar. However, it serves three purposes. It explicitly targets women- for obvious reasons. It states clearly what your social media posts will be all about. Thirdly, it is a topic few are willing to discuss openly. This make-believe stigma attracts more genuinely interested participants and followers to your social media website or blog. Finally, it specifies the target geographic region.
Tip-5: Designate a good social media moderator
By this we mean, appoint a person who possesses sound knowledge about the reasons why a social change is necessary, what steps can be taken to see the initiative flourish and answer any questions that followers may have. Here, you need not limit your social media to a single moderator. In fact, you can have two or three, provided they are well versed with the social change initiative.
Further, moderators are also vital to keeping trolls- or people who create nuisance- on your social media, at bay. Very often, trolls get into a social media circle by faking their interest in the cause. Later, they post offensive or irrelevant stuff that often has zero value to the initiative or other followers. Instead, such posts divert attention from the social change and your social media pages can become a forum for lewd jokes and banter.
Additionally, you need to ask moderators with selecting whom to admit to your social media circle and why.
Tip-6: Keep followers interested and engaged
The Internet has an endless number of websites and social media pages that are mere monologues. Meaning, they promote social change, express views, inform about ways and means you can participate and provide loads of interesting stuff. However, they do not permit interaction or following. The only thing they allow is subscribing to some email newsletter, which, in all probabilities, lands in the ‘Junk’ folder.
The best way to keep followers and supporters interested is by allowing them to post their views and comments on your social media pages. Further, you can have a moderator and an advocate discuss the views expressed. Highlight these discussions, encouraging more to join.
Additionally, you can post interesting news, views, videos and pictures about similar social change initiatives from across the world. This way, you help followers and supporters stay abreast with the latest happenings across the globe for the social change initiative they want. It also helps develop new ideas and strategies.
Tip-7: Tie-up with similar social change initiatives
For reasons inexplicable, Indians tend to look at something ‘phoren’ as superior. They are more likely to subscribe to social change concept with alien origins. Admittedly, any foreign social change initiative is based on social systems, culture, economy, literacy and several other factors prevalent in that country. However, a similar social change concept abroad is a clear indicator of its significance abroad.
You can tie-up your social media with that of a foreign counterpart in the same sphere. This impresses a supporter that their cause has global or international significance. Further, everyone gets opportunities to learn from experiences from another country. It helps generate newer ideas that can be implemented locally. Additionally, it ensures higher levels of interest among your supporters on the social media.
Never seek donations or financial support for social change on social media. You may be strapped for resources but social media is definitely not the avenue to seek funding or resources. It creates a negative impression. Supporters and prospective followers, for some reason, shun social media pages that solicit donations. Further, such solicitation signifies that the concept for social change is a failure or has less support.