Following the heinous terrorist attacks domestically and abroad, we were quickly reminded about the power of social media and community when the Peace for Paris illustration went viral and #PorteOuverte trended worldwide. In some of the most trying times in recent history, communities came together to support one another.
As we have seen so far during COP21 in Paris, the cancellation of the public climate marches coupled with increasingly complex security challenges at public events have forced activist organizations to get creative, which is a key lesson moving forward for all activist organizations. Whether it’s inviting people to an online rally through Periscope, orchestrating virtual reality events, holding smaller flash rallies across the globe and/or making a deeper commitment to online communities to activate a cause digitally, to inspire action, organizations must think more creatively than ever.
Remember, a unifying message is the most important thing to galvanize people to take action. An in-person event merely amplifies that message and builds a sense of community; it’s up to organizations to bridge that gap and foster a sense of community among supporters in new and meaningful ways.
These attacks also remind us that people naturally gravitate toward communities. Organizations must go deeper into where people actually are—social media and the online community. The rapid spread of the Peace for Paris illustration and Facebook’s safety check feature speaks volumes about the state of social media. Their hasty organic growth is a rare example of a message breaking through social media’s pay to play state; too often, messages fail to reach their intended audience because organizations place too much stock in organic growth and lack a comprehensive paid media strategy.
Activist organizations must be prepared on social media, and that includes taking a more active approach in building an audience with the goal of social activation. In the simplest of terms, social activation is taking an audience from passive to active. Think about a Facebook page as an example. A passive audience is one that will simply like a page, whereas an activated audience will share and consume that page’s content and ultimately become a brand ambassador.
For activist organizations, engaged brand ambassadors are key to spreading an organization’s message and making sure that the message lands and reaches the right audience. It’s what ensures that the creative rallies and movements are effective, whether they’re large events like a climate march or a small event on Periscope.
These attacks and the ensuing events only reaffirm that organizations must embrace creativity and audience engagement to promote their message and mission. Real change is possible with creativity, and with the recent horrific events, change is most welcome.