Since social media have become a broadly adopted tool to exchange information and opinions, also advocacy strategies started to use these powerful new media actors. Nowadays, marketing campaigns as well as political elections, social movements and advocacy-based actions cannot work without dealing with these tools.
Even if the exploit of social media like Facebook, Twitter or Google+ seems to be extremely easy, we cannot exclude that those media vehicles need precise and defined strategies in order to achieve satisfactory results.
One of the hugest risks you can run throughout a social media advocacy campaign is related to the attitude towards the campaign itself. Mostly, social media are seen as one-way street communication channels. This perspective can surely give a lot of results but it excludes the most strong feature of this instrument: the two-way task of social media. Social media are based on give-and-take, push-and-pull dynamics. A sort of interactive exchange between the giver and the “customer” of the media contents.
All the most known “traditional” media channels, like TV, radio and newspaper, are not able to create a relationship with the receiver of the message.
On the other hand, new social media enable us to interact with the target of the message; but of course, they have pro and cons. A social media strategy built on an interactive relationship with the user is a more delicate challenge for campaigners. If your purpose is to engage the reader you need to give more attentions, details and in general more organized actions.
If a two-way strategy is not conducted in an appropriated way, the risk is that the trust of the user in a “truth media relationship” can easily decline.
Recently, the campaign about the bombing of the hospital of “Doctors without Borders” spread throughout the use of social media. Thanks to the massive media posting, the humanitarian organization had the possibility to ask for signatures on the platform change.org in order to seek for an independent investigation about the disaster. This media campaigning allowed the organization to reach by the hashtag #indipendentivestigation several famous media personalities, most of whom already committed with this sort of causes, like Edward Snowden, and thus gaining visibility. Therefore, it has been possible to overcome the few attentions that the big media gave to this event – even pushing president Obama to apologize for the accident.
Another effective media campaign had been led in Germany during the protests against the TTIP. Here too, the campaign succeeded to surpass the attempt of big mass media to misinform or to not inform at all. This helped to organize a conscious protest.
Italo Angelo Petrone