The goals of any grassroots organization have remained the same from the very beginning: to spark conversation and inspire change.
While the mission has never changed, the way grassroots movements have attracted loyal supporters has changed tremendously in the digital age.
If your organization is looking to harness the power of social media to support your cause, you may find that not all tactics are equally effective. In fact, some might actually end up alienating the very audience you’re trying to inspire.
Here are a few of our best dos and don’ts when it comes to taking your movement online.
DO: Give your audience a call to action
Social media is a powerful tool to distribute information about your cause. But if all you do is give information, you’re not getting your audience involved. Instead, they’re just passively experiencing the cause by reading about it.
However, if your posts are accompanied by a call to action—write your local legislature, canvas your community, donate to this cause—your audience will not only be well informed but will be working with you toward a common goal and feel like a more valued member of a team or community.
DO: Fact check
The power of social media can be a double-edged sword. While it’s easy to get information out about your cause, it’s just as easy to give out misinformation about it. Every piece of information you post should be verified thoroughly to be true, accurate, and from a reliable source.
Post your fact-finding process too. Let your audience know that the information you’re giving them about your cause has been vetted to be accurate and not misleading. Cite your sources and share where your information is coming from.
DO: Highlight the work of others
Chances are you aren’t alone in the fight for your cause. Use your social media presence to showcase the work of others who are supporting the same cause, like this campaign from the American Institute of Architects in which they shared the good work of architects around the country. This bolsters others who are working with you toward your goal, engages a larger audience, and also shows your own audience that there are others in your corner. Creating a network of support for your cause helps build your support community.
DON’T: Stop your branding with a logo
To help attract people to your movement, it might be tempting to create a fancy logo and call it a day. However, that’s just a tiny piece of your overall branding. You need to use your social media to brand your movement by providing the logo, yes, but also your movement’s mission, vision, and goals.
Tell your audience the story of your movement, and show them how your grassroots organization is dedicating itself to supporting that movement. Telling your story in pictures and words will create the legitimacy you are looking for. The logo will help the audience remember your organization.
DON’T: Only post when it’s timely
Social media has completely changed the way we share and consume news and your particular cause may be reflected in today's headlines. You should absolutely use relevant and reliable current news articles and stories to illustrate that your cause is timely and needs support now. However, only posting when these headlines come up can give your audience the impression that you only care about the issue when it’s in the news.
Posting on that particular issue even when things “calm down” keeps your cause in the forefront of your audience’s mind and shows them that it’s always timely and important.
DON’T: Lose patience
There’s a lot of noise on social media. It would be wonderful if your organization joined in and was instantly followed by thousands of like-minded people. However, that just isn’t how it typically works.
Getting traction on social media may take a little time for your organization, but don’t give up on the endeavor. Building a relationship with your audience online is a lot like building a relationship with anyone. It takes time and energy.
To help stand out from the crowd, post often, post relevant and interesting content, and don’t forget to take advantage of the use of hashtags to allow others to discover you.
Taking your cause to social media is one of the most effective ways to get your name and cause out there and attract loyal supporters. Following these guidelines, you will be able to effectively build a community of supporters who are motivated for action.