Creating Tangible Social Change

by | Aug 18, 2010 | Social Media for Authors

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Some tips and tricks from the BlogHer ’10 session with Melissa Silverstein, Beth Terry, Gina McCauley and Stephanie Himel-Nelson

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Your blog can have an impact, no matter who you are. Bloggers on this panel have had a variety of results from their activism on their blogs, some trying it out as an experiment, while others were advocating for change with the first post.

For example, Beth’s blog Fake Plastic Fish was her attempt to eliminate plastic in her life; 3 years later she’s become known as an activist who has taken on major corporations, including spearheading a North American campaign to urge Clorox to take back and recycle its plastic Brita water filter cartridges. Gina’s greatest achievement is using the platform that she built to battle irresponsible corporate media to highlight underreported cases of horrific violence against Black women, such as the Dunbar Village case, Romona Moore, and Dorothy Dixon. Gina’s blog readers have successfully lobbied large advertisers such as State Farm, Home Depot, McDonald’s, New Balance, Disney, and Yum Brands to pull their advertising from content that demeans and degrades Black women and girls.

Mi Blog
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Blogging is good for open source activism – you can make a little snowball, roll it down a hill and watch it take off … and readers will then generate their own ideas. Blogging is permanent, it’s dynamic and perfect for microactivism, where even one person can make a difference. You don’t have to have a lot of money or connections to organizations to make a difference, as these women discovered. And over time, bloggers can make valuable connections with each other and have more power in numbers.

You are powerful if you have a blog. Don’t worry about becoming the largest, it’s the networking, the call to action, that can be seen by the whole world. The network you build with other bloggers is your most valuable tool because there is power in numbers. Use it. It’s important for activist bloggers to be:

* Honest

* Authentic

* Transparent

* Passionate

* Fearless

With Fake Plastic Fish, Beth was just blogging for herself until she checked her blog stats and saw that people were coming to her blog for information. This spurred her to further action – in this case the campaign to have Brita filters recycled in the US (Beth had discovered that the filers were recycled in Europe).

Before starting your blog, ask yourself if your issue is actionable, can it be changed, and is it bloggable? Is there interest in your topic online? You can check via Google search to see if people are talking about the issue.

Blog comments lost?
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Welcome civil comments and feedback

It’s inevitable that there will be some negative fallout for a blogger who becomes an activist. Those who have taken the ‘body blows’ note that if you don’t have haters, you aren’t doing your job. You learn to deal with it, but be prepared to face threats and anonymous comments – blogging for a cause is not something to be done lightly. Consider having a commenting policy for your blog and state it clearly – a call for civility and respect is appropriate. Feel free to remove comments that don’t respect your guidelines; disagreeing with you is one thing, but name calling or worse qualifies for removal.

Make it easy for others to spread your message

When making a call to action and inviting others to become part of your cause – including other bloggers, publicists, media – there are some definite rules to follow. Make your communications short and easy to read, and, when using email – no attachments. Provide a good blurb people can pick up and run on their own blogs or in emails, a badge that can be posted to other blogs or used as a logo and Twitter information. Personalize invitations, never write “Dear Blogger.”

Consider more than one presence online

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Find the right place to engage people – perhaps it’s through your blog, or via Twitter or on a Facebook fan page that you’ll find the ones who want to become part of your cause. Remember that your followers can do many little things that have a cumulative effect. You may also discover that your followers have a preference for one site over another – some will follow you on your blog. Others will only see updates on your Facebook fan page. Still others will follow you on Twitter. Having a presence on different social networking sites can help build up your cause.

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