In the past decade, I’ve had the privilege of working with some amazing women’s organizations, such as BlogHer, on digital media strategy—helping women candidates, leaders, organizers and activists to do their jobs in making positive changes globally, nationally and locally. Here are five key steps I’ve learned are essential for attaining meaningful digital engagement for the issues and campaigns we care about most.
1) Listen Early
Whatever your goal is, becoming more engaged online first means stepping into communities and listening. Start by observing what others are saying about your area of concern or issue, whether it’s reproductive rights, equal pay, paid family leave, etc. If there’s a social network where you’re already comfortable, like Facebook or Twitter, start there. If you know about email groups of similar activists, I recommend joining and reading what the people in those groups have to say. That’s another great place to begin.
2) Identify Key Voices
Once you have found two or three groups or communities of like-minded people, begin taking note of who the key voices in the discussions are. Locate other champions of your issues, influencers and potential partners. Reach out to them and discuss your perspective. Take note of bloggers whose writing resonates with you. Comment. Connect with them.
3) Engage Often
Consistent communication can go a long way. Too many organizers think they can just build a Facebook page and share their initiatives and expect everyone to do what they ask. That’s not how it works. Social change takes collaboration, cooperation and open conversation over time. That’s no different online. Social media just allows for more efficient communication with dispersed communities.
4) Assess Results
At some point, you will want to determine if what you’re doing online is working. Are you reaching out to the right people? Do your messages resonate the way you would like? Here’s where analytics come in—whether it’s analyzing blog traffic, Facebook likes, or Twitter mentions, these things can tell you what makes a lasting impression on people. As I emphasize in my book, The Digital Mystique, analyzing the qualitative and quantitative data for your digital outreach is time well spent.
5) Keep At It
The women’s suffrage movement didn’t succeed just because the activists were correct that women deserved the right to vote; they succeeded because they continued to persevere and press the topic. Hold onto your digital tribe. Keep reaching out, engaging, pushing the envelope and assessing your progress. Make sure to acknowledge your victories, as small as they may be. Share in the meaningful moments online. If you helped pass a statewide bill for domestic violence prevention, share that widely in your online community. We all need to see that what we’re doing is making a difference.
In my experience researching and writing The Digital Mystique, I heard time and again how often women drop what they’re doing to help support others in a time of need or during an imperative legislative challenge. In our history, we have never been able to reach so many people so quickly, as we can today. We are more empowered than we often realize. So whatever your journey, remember these five steps to help you get closer to achieving your goals.
Sarah Granger is author of The Digital Mystique: How the Culture of Connectivity Can Empower Your Life – Online and Off.