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Ashley Stinson Professor Campbell English 1102 31 March 2013

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Like My Status - Become an Activist What comes to mind when you think of social media of Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace? Is it Farmville, embarrassing photos, or connecting with old high school friends? Perhaps, instead, it is what the people around you are doing all day on their phones, instead of spending time doing something productive. But what if Facebook is productive what then? Social media has become a major tool for large-scale social activism. Causes are being created, shared, and supported across the globe with the click of a mouse. Not only does this sort of activism benefit large organizations, it also gives the average individual a chance to create and hugely impact a cause on his or her own. Suddenly any single person has the potential to reach millions through a page created on the Internet. Clay Shirky, a well known writer on the social and economical effects of the Internet, comments, the potential civic value of social medias hitherto untapped energy is nothing less than revolutionary (qtd. Poovey). How big of an opportunity have we been overlooking? Initially, I will explore the way social networking has reinvented the idea of social activism. In the past this has been characterized by protests, sit-ins, and strikes. It required massive amounts of planning, and a large group of people physically dedicated to the cause to make a real impact. For example, many of have learned of some of the popular social justice movements, such as the Civil Rights Movement. Historically, this has been one of the biggest strives for social justice thus far. At the March on Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr.
Jasmine Vines 4/23/13 10:31 PM Comment [1]: Very good introduction. You start off with a straight forward question, and builds on that idea. It makes us question what we really should use Facebook for.

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gave his I have a Dream speech there were close to 250,000 people in attendance (The Big Six). Acquiring an audience of this size was, and is still, a huge feat. However, at the time this was the most effective means of advocating for a certain cause presenting speeches, and organizing events such as protests and boycotts. It was the easiest way to reach a large population. Then came social media. Facebook currently has 1.06 billion monthly users close to one seventh of the worlds population. Twitter is not far behind with 500 million total, and MySpace, though its popular days have passed, still manages 25 million (Smith). The world is more connected, though social media, than ever in the past. With a pool of potential viewers this large, organizations have been forced to adapt to a technological age. However, the problem is that many are still unaware or uninterested in the potential good of social networking. Stereotypically, much of the older generations in America see little to no value in being so heavily involved with an online world. Many refuse to adapt to new technology, or to even see where it has potential to be useful. Though, to an extent many have accepted social media for what they believe it is worth. Even amongst avid participants of the social media world, many are uninterested in furthering its uses. Facebooks Causes application only has 90 million users, a meager 8.5% of the sites total members. Of the group who are involved, most do not take this participation outside the world of the Internet. Ann Marie Kerwin, writer from the newspaper Advertising Age comments, But for today's 20somethings-sometimes called "slactivists"-supporting or denouncing a cause is as simple as hitting the "like" button on Facebook or posting a hashtag to Twitter (Kerwin). Its true; online activism takes far less commitment and often results in nothing more than following a page, or liking a status. For social media activism to be as effective as it has the potential to be, it requires more than this sort of mediocre involvement.
Jasmine Vines 4/23/13 10:37 PM Comment [3]: Maybe a quote from an elderly person, any articles about elderly people and technology? Jasmine Vines 4/23/13 10:33 PM Comment [2]: Good backup for your statement, I like that you used the Civil rights movement to show the change in times and to actually explore how things have changed.

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However, one could argue that the actual meaning of social activism has changed. "Young adults are changing activism, redefining it," said Eliza Esquivel, planning director of TBWA and author of the study. "Knowing and talking about social issues to them is now considered a form of activism" (qtd. Kerwin). Instead of being a physical action, activism is now being defined as a sort of understanding of the world and its current issues. It is not always the goal of a group to create action apart from the Internet, rather, a desire for awareness. Many diseases, such as Breast Cancer, have social media sites built for awareness and support, and many social causes use this method as well. Human trafficking awareness has become an important topic amongst activists. Though most all causes have a need for financial support, this is an example where awareness is key. In order to impact this (or any other) cause, people must first become aware of the issue. Clearly, social media is incredibly effective at quickly informing a large population a quality which is now being repurposed. Large organizations have been forced to adapt to a social-media friendly society. Amongst the business world, social media has established its place - not as a toy for teens, but as an important tool for marketing. Gloria Huang, social media strategist for the Red Cross, agrees, "The culture has definitely shifted in terms of how the organization's leaders view social engagement," Huang says. "Everyone understands it's something we need to be doing" (qtd. Greenblatt). For the Red Cross, the $33 million derived through a request on Twitter for the 2010 Haiti earthquake was pivotal in establishing the importance of social networking. The Red Cross harnessed the widespread access to text messaging, as well as the efficiency in being able to donate via a cellular device to maximize the number of interested supporters. Because of the speed technology brings, this type of quick fundraiser has become popular. With modern technology, funds that may have in the past taken months to raise, are able to be collected in
Jasmine Vines 4/23/13 10:42 PM Comment [5]: I love that you give not only your opinion but you give some actually cited resources. Jasmine Vines 4/23/13 10:40 PM Comment [4]: Good citation

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hours via the Internet. With the advantage of millions of followers, the Red Cross was able to ask for a small donation, which allowed each individual to feel he/she was a part of the larger goal, while not overstepping a comfortable limit (Greenblatt). This is all a part of the strategy involved social media marketing. Not only can large organizations benefit from cause marketing through social media, but also the individual. Social networking sites have leveled the playing field as far as the potential to have a global impact through a chosen cause. It no longer matters if you are a group of one or of ten thousand; you have the potential to single-handedly (or with the help of a few) reach thousands. For both large and small causes, social media marketing is a cost-friendly choice that enables even the lowest budget projects to get a good start. BeRemedy is a Twitter organization that was started by one man, Blake Canterbury. He began with an idea, a vision of a community working to provide for each others specific needs. BeRemedy uses social media to quickly post a need, and have it shared, and hopefully met by fellow members of an area. Its a very interesting take on activism, and maximizes the benefits of social media. Not all projects will necessarily become a formal organization, or go on to reach millions, but the advancement comes in knowing there is now potential. Social networking sites are the perfect choice for short term causes as well. Many individuals are interested in raising money to support the Race for the Cure or Relay for Life. In this case, a person may be interested in temporarily seeking support and awareness for a cause, and social media is the perfect method of outreach. For an individual, Facebook is already connecting them to the people they know and are interested in. And so, from there, seeking support through social media is easy you have access to a big pool of your own friends. The

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entire foundation for social networking lends itself very well to promoting social justice. It is an online place where friends and others can connect through similar interests. As social media marketing has gained popularity, research and findings on how to effectively use this tool are being published. There are now hundreds of books, websites, and articles detailing the most successful ways social media is being used, and how to mimic these actions within your own business or cause. Not only do people expect organizations to be using social networking, they expect for it to be used well. Organizations that choose to use social networking must be willing to dedicate time and energy to this faction of the group. Social media marketing is not something that can be affective by simply creating a Twitter account and tweeting once per month. Followers expect to feel that an organization appreciates their contributions, and is interested in their opinions. This means strategizing like a group would through any other means of marketing, and it means that companies must be willing to invest time, thought, and research into their efforts. Wendy Harmon, the director of social media for the Red Cross comments, The social web is not about you. Its not about your message. Its not about how many people like you. Its about how well you connect and empower individuals to directly impact the issue your organization cares about (qtd. Convio). Understanding how to inspire and engage your followers is vital to your cause. As with anything, there have also been many times in which social media marketing has failed. For example, Kony 2012 became a viral cause via the Internet, with an almost instantaneous rush of dedicated followers (Greenblatt). However, what originally appeared to be a ruthless search for justice, ended with little to no real action. Social networking characteristically enables a cause to be spread and shared quickly, however, an organization must continue to engage its followers. Invisible Childrens inability to connect to its audience, as well

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as its failure to mobilize a physical movement led to an overall failed attempt at media marketing. Often times online causes fail to uphold the same humanly quality that person-toperson relationship has. It is vital that both the organization and the followers share a similar dedication to each other and the cause, and are willing to become a common force for good. Organizations cannot refuse to communicate with their supporters (Greenblatt). On the other hand, there can always be too much of a good thing, and the same goes for overwhelming interested followers with information. Maintaining a balance is crucial. Though there have been successes and failures, it is inarguable that social media is impacting the way our world sees and participates in social activism. Our world continues to change, and as it changes, so must people if they hope to continue to connect with current generations. Social activism is evolving; it has taken on a new meaning, and with that, developed new forms of marketing and involvement. Benefits of social media marketing apply to individuals, groups, and large organizations alike. However, like any other means of marketing, companies are learning the dos and donts, and perfecting their strategies. As social networking is becoming standard in the business world, it has become a popular research topic. Business professionals, researchers, and everyday people are combining their observations and inputs, creating useful information for individuals and organizations alike. Overall, I hope that the information presented in this essay will offer an insightful, and hopefully interesting, take on social media marketing. After all, this is a technological age why not take advantage of that?
Jasmine Vines 4/23/13 10:46 PM Comment [6]: I love your paper altogether, it gave me some new insight on the different uses of Facebook. Most of it I never really thought about before, you gave a lot of good details and brought new ideas to the tables. You give your opinion with an equal amount of resources to back it up. You did a really good job.

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Works Cited Convio. Going Social: Tapping Into Social Media for Nonprofit Success. Council of Nonprofits. National Council of Nonprofits, 2010 Web. 4 Apr. 2013. Greenblatt, Alan. Have You Friended Your Favorite Cause? NPR. National Public Radio, 4 May 2012. Web. 9 Mar. 2013. Kerwin, Ann Marie. "How To Get The Social-Media Generation Behind Your Cause." Advertising Age 81.26 (2010): 8. Academic Search Complete. Web. 7 Apr. 2013. Poovey, Cherin. Social Media, Social Good. Wake Forest Magazine. Wake Forest University, 11 Nov. 2010. Web. 23 Feb. 2013. Smith, Craig. How Many People Use the Top Social Media, Apps & Services? Expanded Ramblings. Digital Marketing Ramblings, 3 Apr. 2013. Web. 6 Apr. 2013. The Big Six: John Lewis and His Contemporaries. Howard University. Howard University, 1 Feb. 2005. Web. 5 Apr. 2013.