WAM! It Yourself Conference Liveblog: Social Media for Activism

Posts are going in reverse-order so start at the bottom and scroll up for the blow-by-blow in order!

11:00am: Wrap up! Use social media the way YOU want to use it, you will reach the people you need to reach by being yourself (Sally). Movements aren’t made because people get paid to do this work, they get made because people believe that this should happen. Be cognizant of getting as many voices into the mix as possible (Emily May).  Social media is the best way to take your movement and make it their own (Erica). To quote Barney, sharing is caring. Don’t hate, participate (Janna).

10:55am: How do you measure success? Not by number of pageviews. “By the amount of revolution that we make.” – Emily May. Paraphrased Erica: It helps to have tangible real-world goals (like signatures on a petition or people at an event) but on a more “nebulous” level looking at the conversations your campaigns generate.

10:50am: Paraphrased Erica and Janna: there’s a lot of great stuff out there but there’s also a lot of crap. You are in charge, you decide what is worth responding to. (Example: Planned Parenthood doesn’t have to respond to every person calling them “baby killers” and just looking to disparage, not start dialogue.) Its okay to ignore/delete the comments that are looking to insult and shut-down, not start a conversation.

An audience member from NARAL (so sorry, I can’t read your nametag) adds that retweeting the douchey comments with a silly/sarcastic response can help turn the tables and keep your own morale up. It all depends on the tone of the organization you’re with/your own preferences with dealing with these things.

10:47am: Emily May just referenced Cindy Gallup (Make Love Not Porn): You speak from your own authentic voice, it doesn’t matter what the “haters” say. If you’re saying what you believe, pretty much, you’ll be alright. Janna just advised we check out Deanna Zandt’s twitter guides… and I plan to ASAP.

10:42am: Its about being a part of the conversation, not controlling it. (Paraphrased, Erica.) Sidenote: I may dissappear soon if I can’t locate an outlet.

10:33am: It may take some experimentation to find out where “your people” are (Twitter? Facebook?) Though it can be hard to create a consistent organizational voice with multiple people doing social media for the organization it can also be beneficial in terms of diversifying the message and reducing the pressure on individuals. (Deanna Zandt jumped in to contribute this point!)

10:30am: Social media is really hard and most organizations don’t have the funds for a dedicated person to work on that… so you split things up, plan ahead, and make it a priority because Social Media is SO important. It represents the voice of your organization. Recommendation from Janna: Hoot Suite (?) can schedule posts and help you look up keywords, etc. (I have no idea what this is but I’ll be looking it up!) My recommendation: WordPress and tumblr are great with scheduling posts!

10:23am: People want to do something. Social media provides a way to keep them engaged, inform them of what action needs to be taken and how it can be done! It needs to be a part of the process, not the whole thing.

10:20am: So now, how do we use this dialogue to create change? Paraphrased Janna: Using our personal social media (like Facebook) to post our opinions can start conversations with people we already know and help to make people within our own networks think, and maybe even move them to action. Erica: You can’t just rely on social media. Social media campaigns become successful when they cross over. Social media is great to get people fired up but you need to give them an action to take, try to engage traditional media, etc. How do you cross over? Harnessing anonymous stories from the internet and bringing them to legislators. Emily May just talked about how that has been used by Hollaback to organize well publicized They’re even trying to link Hollaback to the New York City Government  so you could have the option to tell your story to both the web community and the local community (of policymakers etc.) at the same time! Janna just told us about how Who Cares? I do! Has held online rallies for people to tell their stories about public services that connected with a physical in-person rally; both made one another stronger by getting the word out in multiple ways and building community!

10:13am: Social media lets you connect easier and make other’s voices freely and equally important in the conversationbut you still have to have something to say. (Erica’s point, very paraphrased.)

Emily May: “Even in your lonliest moment you still have your phone on you, you still have your story, you still have you. […] No longer is it who speaks the loudest, its who speaks. […] With that we will be able to tackle social problems that we haven’t been able to touch before.”

10:10am: The basic idea is making the political personal (and vice versa) through social media. Examples thrown out by the panel include: Sady Doyle’s Moore and Me campaign (which I joined in on so… living proof that this stuff gets average people to notice), “I am Dr. Tiller” and “I Had an Abortion.” An example of bad use of Social Media as attention-grabbing: Kenneth Cole’s horrible Egypt tweet.

10:00am: Emily May from Hollaback is presenting this video to start the dialogue! The idea is, basically: movements start small and then they grow (like telephone) as people start to follow the original leader and, eventually, other people in the movement until its growing and growing as various people pick up the cause and start “dancing” and inspiring one another! Erica added: its about empowering people to use their own voices for a shard cause [sure paraphrased] and she used the NYC Planned Parenthood Rally that I attended as an example! She says the power came from people sharing their own stories.

9:45am: At my first panel, Social Media for Activism with Emily May, Sally Mercedes, Erica Sackin, and Janna Zinzi (moderator: Jen Nedeau)!

9:12am: Not going to write much this time around, but I made it! After missing the PATH and having to wait a half hour for the next one, finding the street I needed (Courtland) was closed, getting hopelessly lost as I tried to detour, and finally hailing a cab so I wouldn’t be late (I was close, but headed in the wrong direction: it only took two minutes once the cab driver rescued me) I made it! To normally functioning adult folks this may not seem like such a big deal but for someone with my lack of direction… this is huge.

5:39am: Also, if I can manage to tweet as well in all of this excitement I’ll be using the #WAMNYC hashtag like everyone else!

5:30am: The fact that I will be attending the WAM! Conference in just three hours makes it worth it that I have to be up in time to catch the 6:17am train out of my town… which is an accomplishment since I am so not a morning person. I think the fact that its dark out still may actually be helping me deal with this since I am usually so much more alert at night! So anyways, my itty bitty netbook is packed and ready for its liveblogging debut but because WAM! is awesome they already have people signed on to liveblog each session. So, check out those liveblogs here and here starting around 9:30am and going until (I think) like, 5:00pm. Since that is happening I’m going to go easy on the liveblogging for today (and save my energy for Momentum next weekend) so check back to this post too, where I’ll post random observations and thoughts and insights from each session as often as I can. Also, if you happen to be looking at this at WAM… let me know because I’d love to say hey!

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