Integrating Social Media and Advocacy

Several months ago I attended a social media conference. One of the sessions focused on integrating social media into an organization’s advocacy strategy.

Dionna Humphrey, senior online strategist for Greenpeace USA, shared that social media can help push the message to a wider audience. “It has the power to take leg and take off,” she said.

Ken breaks up with Barbie because of her role with deforestation. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

Greenpeace created a campaign targeting Mattel because the packaging for toys was from Indonesia’s rainforests. Its campaign created greater visibility and additional pressure on Mattel.

In the campaign, which played on social media platforms, Ken breaks up with Barbie. @Ken_Talks: “Barbie, it’s over. I don’t date girls that are into #deforestation.”

Humphrey said that the hashtags start a buzz with followers and allows a company to track conversations. When possible, tell followers about hashtags ahead of time, which will make it easier to follow and engage in the conversation. To determine if the hashtags are relevant, you can check on search.twitter.com.

Not everyone in the audience, though, was a fan of how Greenpeace targeted Mattel. Tweeted Geoff Livingston of Zoetica: “Not sure I like the ethics of Greenpeace stalking Mattel Facebook fans with green messages.”

Wendy Harman of the Red Cross cautioned about such public tactics. “It’s just so easy for that tactic to strike right back.”

Such campaigns work when there is a “crisitunity,” or a situation that is both a crisis and an opportunity. Humphrey said it worked because all the members on the social media platforms can become ambassadors.

In part, because of the social media campaign, Mattel has instructed its suppliers to avoid wood fiber from controversial sources, including companies that are known to be involved in deforestation.

“This is really the kind of power that you have,” Humphrey said.

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