Protesting has always been a way to make change, whether it’s taking to the streets, no longer supporting a company, or protesting through art or online. Throughout the recent Black Lives Matter protests, which increased in momentum following the death of George Floyd, online protesting has grown in popularity. One of the reasons for that is COVID-19. People are cautious about keeping 6 feet apart, so marching in large groups isn’t the safest. Protesting online is also important because the web is a great way to reach many people at once by spreading news and resources. Whatever the reason is that you have come to this blog to learn how to protest online, I’m glad that you are here to learn.
THE POWER OF ONLINE PROTESTING
There are around 4.75 billion people online. Your post may not reach all of those people, but it won’t go unheard. Whoever sees what you say or do may tell a friend offline or share it online as well, and your message will spread. Signing a petition online also makes a difference. For example, Cindy Butterworth, a school librarian, started a petition on Change.org to have Verizon waive their cancellation fees for domestic-violence victims. She reached 200,000 signatures and Verizon cancelled the fees. Another recent example is Elijah McClain. After being attacked by police and injected with ketamine, he was taken to the hospital where he died a few days later. This all happened in August of 2019. Now, nearly a year later, his case is being reopened. Although there is still progress to be made in securing an independent investigation, the case reopened because people are protesting by signing petitions online, posting on social media, and raising a national outcry that’s spreading across the internet.
HOW TO PROTEST ONLINE
Digital marketing is all about getting the word out online, usually about your company or organization, but it can easily translate to requesting change and protesting. There are three steps to internet activism: spreading awareness, organizing, and taking action.
Below are some ways you can protest online by combining the three forms of internet activism with digital marketing tactics.
Blogging is all about providing information or telling stories. It’s a form of journalism. Writing a blog with actionable resources, sharing your thoughts about what changes you are demanding, or outlining problems and why they need to be solved are all forms of activism. Colibri recently published a protest blog, and through the process, we learned that we were able to reach people and spread our message of love.
SOCIAL MEDIA ACTIVISM
If you are one of the 2.95 billion people who are on social media, you have probably seen lots of information and ways to support the Black Lives Matter movement. Personally, I have learned a lot through social media. I’ve followed links to educate myself, signed petitions, and donated to places that I learned about through social media.
Social media activism is a great way to organize and take action. The first step, of course, is to spread information. You can do so by posting articles about the issue you are trying to solve and what changes you want to see. From there, you can start organizing. You can plan an email or phone call campaign by writing out the script and telling your followers the plan. The last step is to turn it into an action. Encourage everyone to send the emails or make the phone calls. The truth is that to some extent, everyone on social media is an influencer. The content you post influences those who see it, whether it’s 10 people or 10,000.
Email is a great way to deliver information directly to someone at a certain time. Sending a message to your email contacts about ways to take action, spreading the word about an issue, or organizing via email can help you reach people directly in a more personal way. Online activism can become slacktivism, meaning people are sharing something to feel good about themselves without taking any further actions. Just because you are sharing a link doesn’t mean you are not doing other things to support your cause, but sometimes, people can fall into that trap. Writing your own email and doing your own research will reach people on a more personal level.
Another great thing about protesting via email is that there are templates available online for you to fill out and send to officials. All you have to do is fill in your name, the city that you live in, and the subject line so the email doesn’t get marked as spam. The body content is pre-written, so it only takes two minutes or less to click send!
Hashtags group information and posts together. If there is a hashtag trending on the internet about a certain cause, it will grab global recognition and actions will be taken. People search for hashtags to quickly find information and resources. While writing this blog, I searched for a hashtag on Instagram to find a resource I had seen on someone’s account previously.
ONLINE SHOPPING ACTIVISM
Where we spend our money has a huge impact in the world. For example, I don’t believe in supporting Amazon because of their environmental practices as well the treatment for their employees. So I don’t spend my money there. Instead, I find products I like on Amazon and buy the product directly from the company’s actual store instead of Amazon. If there is a company whose values and practices you personally do not agree with, protest their actions by boycotting them.
When I say graphics, I don’t mean devastating videos or photos. I mean creating a graphic to match the movement. Like a hashtag, a graphic will grab people’s attention and visually inform people about the topic of your post. Images engage people. If someone sees a graphic that demands change, they are more likely to read more about the topic and do research.
ONLINE ACTIVISM TIPS
When protesting online, you have to remember to do so in a way that is beneficial. Sharing incorrect information will hurt more than it will help. We ColibriSourced to find out how#TeamColibri protests online and what tips they have.
I have learned a lot about current events online and realized there have been things I have not understood correctly. Making room for people who are directly affected and more knowledgeable than me helps ensure that the correct information is being shared. Sometimes the most powerful thing you can do is listen and make space online for people who have been directly impacted by the issue you are fighting. By learning directly from the source, from people who have been greatly impacted, you can hear their words and spread their message to those less familiar with it.
-Rose C., Digital Marketing Intern
SHARE CONFIRMED NEWS
I think that based on where I’ve lived, the best way to protest is by sharing confirmed news about what’s currently happening. In Venezuela, we don’t have news outlets and all information we receive is via social, so using social media to share what’s happening and amplifying the voices of the people that are in the frontlines is the best way we have to support the protests.
-Alessandra I., Digital Marketing Director
DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH
Just be wary of where your information is coming from so you can get the best possible message from the people who know the most. Don’t believe everything you see even if it supports your narrative, do your own research and keep an open mind. Be as nice as you can to everyone without compromising your message.
-Hank K., College Student
YOUR PLATFORM IS YOUR POWER
Activism can seem daunting, but every voice is important! Check your sources, but worry less about phrasing words in the right way. If you misspeak, learn to build tolerance for feedback and take accountability for your actions. Making mistakes is all part of the process, so don’t let the fear of messing up keep you from using your voice for good change.
-Annie L., Digital Marketing Intern
PROTESTING TIPS FOR EVERYDAY LIFE
There are ways you can protest every day. Remember that small actions can lead to big change.
DEFINE YOUR VALUES
Before you can start taking action, you have to define your values. Colibri Digital Marketing is a certified B Corp, so we try to stand by our values of doing business for good in both work and life.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Once you know what you care about and want to change, see if the places, businesses and people you support align with your values. If they don’t, you may need to look for alternatives.
MAKE A ROUTINE
You can make a plan to sign one petition a day or educate yourself everyday. Small actions add up. If you are passionate about the environment, get in the practice of carrying a metal straw or bring reusable takeout containers when you eat out. Try to make a routine and set goals that are achievable.
The most important thing to remember is that you must do your research. Before sharing something, make sure that it’s true and that you understand what it means. Online protesting can make a difference, so use your platform as best you can.
If you want help in getting your message out, reach out to us! We can help you get views on your blog, build engagement on social media, and set up your email marketing. Click the button below to sign up for a 30 minute complimentary strategy session.