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Slacktivism: 5 ways to create an online social movement

“Slacktivism” gets a bad rep. It’s been defined as activism that shows support for causes through “simple measures” like signing a petition, or liking a movement’s Instagram page. It’s synonymous with “viral social media movements” like changing your profile picture to bring attention to a global tragedy (for example #blueforsudan). 

The name makes it sound like slacktivism is, well- kinda lazy. Like you’re not putting your whole chest into supporting the issues and causes that you care about. But in the world of Corona, we don’t have much choice. The online world is the only tool we have right now to keep the issues we’re passionate about on people’s minds. 

Image courtesy of Beyond.

So, Naked Politics wants you to fully embrace the slacktivist life. Here are a few ways, as a young person, you can keep supporting the causes you love, in the most effective way possible. 

Tell a story. Then keep telling it. 

There’s nothing wrong with doing minimal things like reposting causes you care about, or adding a banner with a message to your profile picture. But if you want to make a more sustained difference, then the “story” you create around what the issues are and why other people should care, is very important. 

People connect well with something when there’s a clear, emotional, heartfelt story- often more so than cold stats or isolated facts. Once you’ve pulled together an engaging narrative, think about what forms you could put it in, whether that’s blog posts, articles, videos, infographics, original designs, online posters and banners or social media posts. And make sure you push out that compelling story as often as possible through these different ways. 

The social media movement, #blueforsudan used real images from the scenes in Sudan to create an emotional connection and make the situation real to readers. Image courtesy of Al-Jazeera.

Create shareable content 

If the content you make to raise awareness about isn’t very easily “shareable” it’s reach will be limited. People are unlikely to share a whole essay that’s pages long, but they are likely to share snappy content that pulls out key quotes, stats or has an engaging design. Try to create content about your cause that looks distinct and stands out in people’s feeds.  

Directly contact people who are likely to support your cause too

The bougie word for this is “stakeholder identification”. Basically, spend some time figuring out who: 

  • Your immediate social circles
  • People in relevant industries 
  • People in the media
  • People in politics who could make a legislative difference

would be interested in supporting your cause either officially, or just reposting/sharing to a wider audience.  

Reach out to them, and don’t be afraid to pick up the phone rather than just sending a cold email or DM. Many people are surprisingly receptive to being directly contacted, especially if you make them understand how important their support is to you. 

Make an online petition 

Petitions are a great way to get people gassed about your issue, and has the added benefit of giving people something tangible to contribute to. Make sure that there’s a clear “call to action” that you’re asking people to support you on. For example, wanting to end the tampon tax or giving NHS nurses a pay rise. 

UK Parliament has an online petition system you can find out more about here. If your petition is signed over 100,000 times the government has to respond in a parliamentary debate. You can also check out Change.org if your cause isn’t about something to do with Parliament and has a much lower threshold of 150 signatures needed for “decision makers” to get involved. 

Parliament has a website where you can start and sign petitions. Image courtesy of BBC.

Lift other people’s voices too  

This is really important, particularly if you’re raising awareness about issues that don’t directly affect you. For example, if you’re campaigning for more education about LGBTQ history in schools and you don’t identify as being part of that group, make sure you put the voices of those that do at the centre. Amplify the voices of those most affected, creating content that allows them to speak in their own voices about what this issue means to them. 

If you want to show your support for a community, but don’t belong to it, it’s great to be an ally and give room for their voices to be heard. Image courtesy of Oprah Magazine.

Start a crowdfunding campaign

Not every movement will need coins, but for more long-term movements you may need some dollar to keep you going and continue making an impact for the long term. 

Plan your crowdfunding campaign well in advance, making sure you’re water-tight on what you’re asking people to donate to and why it’s so important. Be specific about what the donations would go towards. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and think about what would make them contribute. Work in advance with your network to make sure lots of people know about it before you launch. You can find out more about how to run a successful crowdfunding campaign at CrowdfunderUK.

Thanks for reading our article! We know young people’s opinions matter and really appreciate everyone who reads us.

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