Young Involved Philadelphia hosted its monthly Civics Cafe last week on the topic of social media, featuring tips from Zainab Javed, a digital strategist at creative agency GPS Impact and former digital director of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, and Ben Bowens, communications associate of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania.
Civics Cafe takes place every month in hopes of “breaking down the basics of advocacy” for young. April tackles the topic of social media and digital organizing and here are their tips.
- It’s about the masses, not just the immediacy. Social media is fast, but its other strength is reaching the critical mass needed to mobilize. As the manager of a Facebook page whose likes have tripled since the presidential election, Bowens said that reaching a larger audience of people has proven equally important. Javed added that “the [political] climate has made it easier to get organic.”
- Know when to give the mic to others. You might have a lot to say, but sometimes it’s not your turn to say it, according to these two. Bowens said, “We’ve often scheduled posts — but after something bad happens, it looks like we have most insensitive stuff out there.” Javed gave an example: “If a school shooting happens and you don’t have a gun policy, I would stay dark.”
- There’s no need (or time) for perfectionism. This comes from Javed, who confessed that due to her perfectionist tendencies, she’s wasted time “trying to crank out all this content” complete with personalized graphics. Ultimately, though, “you don’t have to create everything yourself … or worry about making something pretty.”
- Take the online stuff offline sometimes. For those frustrating and seemingly endless Facebook debates, Bowens said, “I’m a big fan of having conversations offline before taking them online.”
- Stay positive. In the competition to get everyone’s attention, it can be easy to focus on the negative. “People are more motivated by anger, frustration, fear,” Javed said, “But positive messages are important, too.”