Social Media & the New Influence

May 20, 2011
by Ashton Wingate

As a group of individuals out to make a difference, RESULTS grassroots volunteers know how the power of one can add up to the power of many and how that power can change the world. Integrating social media into the way you advocate can make the work you do with RESULTS more impactful and ensure that we leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of our goals.

The dialogue you have with friends and family when introducing them to RESULTS is the kind of storytelling that can really get our mission across to online audiences. Using social media to spread our message to more people can serve as a great addition to all of the hard work you already put in as a volunteer.

In this new era of communication, the political world is no longer solely dominated by the press, political strategists, or policymakers. We as citizens have used social media to add to the conversation and those on the other end are listening and engaging. If we can use technology to strengthen our already proven advocacy methods, we can have an even bigger influence than we already do!

I recently attended a webinar hosted by Half in Ten, which is a campaign to cut poverty in half within the next ten years. During their presentation, they echoed the point that we’ve reached a time where we as citizens can define the political conversation using social media. In their presentation, they urged people to create their own online advocacy networks. “Friend” or “follow” your local bloggers, community organizers, e-newsletter editors, and influencers and use them to increase your influence.

Studies have already shown that calling, writing, and meeting face to face are sure fire ways that advocates can affect policy decisions. If you can add a follow up component online through social media, there will be nowhere that your elected official isn’t confronted with the issues that you feel need addressing. Every time you “tweet” or post about how deep cuts to vital nutrition programs will prevent low-income families from getting the food they need to survive or how important vaccines are to child survival people are listening. After reading an op-ed or editorial disseminated through social media, those people might decide to take action!

I know that for some, social media can be intimidating and it can be hard to harness the power of your voice online. But if you simply start with the basics, you’ll have no problem adding social media to your advocacy toolbox. Start out by connecting, “follow” people on twitter and “friend” them on Facebook so you can listen to what they have to say. Then engage with your new social connections. “ReTweet” or reply to join the conversation, “like” and “comment” on posts you find interesting. The final piece is reciprocating, recommend your social connections to others and encourage them to “follow” and “friend” as well.

Remember to find RESULTS on Twitter and Facebook. Please don’t hesitate to e-mail me with any questions you may have as you communicate about our issues online. If you will be attending the RESULTS International Conference this year, come to our social media workshop where we’ll be discussing how to best use Facebook for advocacy. Most importantly, good luck! And thank you for all that you do for RESULTS!

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