When we change the way we communicate, we change society – Clay Shirky
Amongst the things that’ve changed since the advent of social software/social media is Activism. The ease with which new groups can be formed and action coordinated among its members, has changed the face of Activism completely to Activism 2.0 as we call it. Except for starting and end points everything has changed and changed drastically. Here’s a really old news item about online protest. Consider these examples of Activism 2.0
Second Life Strike Against IBM: One month after a virtual protest staged in Second Life with almost 2’000 avatars demonstrating on IBM islands, a new contract with IBM Italy has been signed.The new agreement, which still needs to be approved by the IBM Italy workforce, reinstates the performance bonus that was cut unilaterally by IBM Italy management.
Facebook Group Spawns Protests in 185 Cities: A Facebook group mobilizes millions in anti-FARC march.
Mass Virtual Suicide in China to Protest Game Limitations: A group of World of Warcraft players in China committed mass suicide. They wanted to draw attention to the latest restriction on their liberty: The same government agency that censors newspapers and bans books had just mandated a system of disincentives to limit the number of hours per day they spent playing online games. In the aftermath of the public outcry (and virtual die-ins), the Chinese government announced that adults could play MMORPGs for as long as they like.
These are some of the cases of Activism 2.0 but they give you a sense of the scope of this sort of activism and the possibilities that it has. A few years who would have thought a virtual mass suicide would have got even noticed, let alone letting a goverment to change it’s policy ? or who would have thought you could arrange a real protest involving millions of people withouth ever meeting them in real life before ?
The activism isn’t just limited to serious/political stuff, a quick search of facebook or social network of your choice will lead you to lots of things like petition to get McDonalds to do deliveries, or petition to get K.F.C to do door deliveries.
The possibilities with social software are immense and the pace at which their usage is spreading, further increases their scope, but what is it about the tools that really puts Activism 2.0 way ahead of its predecessor ?
Ease of group formation: Getting people together hasn’t been easier. Thanks to social software people can get together a lot easily and faster. Unlike in real life where a lot of effort, time and resources are needed to spread the word and get people together, with web the cost(time, effort and resources) is minimal.
Critical Mass: Due to the popularity of social software(Flickr,Wikipedia,Blogs etc) the available audience is hugh. You just have to start doing the right things and in no time you can reach out to people who can relate to your cause.
Sans Frontiers: Not limited by geography is another positive aspect of Activism 2.0 which makes it highly likely to spread to other areas where it would haven’t reached or took long to reach had it being an offline initiave.
Ease of coordination and collaboration: Because of really low transaction costs and real time updates it’s a lot easier to coordinate a large group of people. Since most of the popular tools are free and have inbuilt feature that support group activites, it’s really easy to share real time updates and collaborate.
Visibility: Unlike in it’s early days the disconnect between online and offline worlds is a lot less so a purely web phenomenon isn’t restricted to web only and starts spreading in offline world. The huge possibility of transition to real life is also an incentive to start with virtual protest.
Here are some the commonly used tools for Activism 2.0
List of online activism(of sorts)
1. Support The Monks’ Protest In Burma
2. Facebook layout protest
4. Online Protest over 2012 logo
7. G20 summit protesters use Twitter, Facebook and Social Media tools to organise demonstrations
8. SF Activists use Twitter to coordinate war protest
9. Inside Moldova’s Revolution
11. Cyber Demos Protest Online Censorship
12. The New Zealand Internet Blackout
13. Facebook protest forces interest rate climbdown
14. Nude art clothed in protest against China’s Internet crackdown
15. Petition to LinkedIn
So what do feel Activism 2.0, how do you see it changing in times to come ?
In the age of wii, iphone and social media even Gods can’t afford to stay the same. As people start doing more activities online(the ones they used to do offline) they are spending more and more time online.
Lets imagine Gods themselves felt the need to engage with their audience and started using various social media tools to market themselves. Lets see how it plays and what can we learn from this.
It’s much easier for people to stay in touch with each other online as compared to offline. Not only this, it’s also easier for people to stay close to their favorite Gods online. Plus the internet offers some possibilities that were unthinkable before like say “making friends with God”.
With God himself on your friend list, the possibilities are immense. So don’t be surprised if your Facebook feeds reads :
“Matt Jacob and Simon Taylor are now friends with Jesus Christ” or
“Vivek Sharma and Sai Baba are now friends via the People You May Know tool”
Lesson 1: Fish where the fish are. Social networking sites like Facebook, Orkut, Myspace etc in this case are better options to connect with their audience than say LinkedIn or Friendfeed.
In case you think, making friends with God might be a bit too much(or you fear you’ll loose your online privacy) , you can simply become a fan of your favorite God.
Lesson 2 : Give your audience various ways to connect with you, depending on the degree to which they would like to get involved/connected.
With about 9200 fans, fan page of Jesus is brewing with activity. While most people show their gratitude and express their love towards the God, some people actually want to chat with the God himself and guess what ? Jesus does not disappoint his followers.
Lesson 3: Interact with your audience and small is big.
Lesson 4: Regularly update your web properties and add relevant content. This gives a reason for your audience to come back.
Lesson 5: Don’t oversell. The ultimate goal of Social Media usage is not to sell but to establish lasting relationships with your audience.
These are some of the simple lessons in social media marketing that I could think of from the above mentioned cases, if there’s something else that you’d like to suggest, just drop a comment 🙂
PS: This post is just meant to be used to learn some lessons in social media usage in a fun way and should not be taken in any other context
Blogosphere and Twitterville are abuzz with the news of recently launched blog of prime ministerial candidate Mr L.K Advani of the India’s opposition party, BJP. Be it the Obama effect or something else, it’s good to see Indian politicians starting to use Internet actively. Clearly, BJP is coming out stronger and smarter when it comes to making their presence felt on the web as compared to the Congress. Also, there seem to be an aggressive effort in marketing Mr Advani on the internet too. Lets see how Mr Advani and team are using various social media tools and services to spread the word.
1) Personal Web Site: The website http://www.lkadvani.in/ as Gaurav Mishra notes, was launched on November 8, 2008. The site is much better than the kind of sites we’ve seen in the past . Not only does it look better, it is also well conceptualized(though there’s nothing out of the box yet).
Things worth noting about the site are
a) Comprehensive about and background page(s): This is very important for those who want to know more about the leader and/or the party. That said, the site offers a lot of relevant information.
b) Forum: The site also has an active in house forum, with a couple of threads having more than 100 posts. Having a forum is very important to organize a loyal community around the social media object in question. If handled properly a forum like this could grow really big and attract lots of politics enthusiasts engaged in various sorts of discussions. What remains to be seen is if Mr Advani, himself takes part in this forum.
c) Blog: A blog in another way to share your views/opinions and engage the community. A few questions that comes to one’s mind immediately are, who writes the content ? how open are they to feedback/criticism ? and who replies to the comments i.e engages in conversations ?
Since the blog is just a few days old, its difficult to answer these questions now.
d) Recent activities: It’s good to see, details about his standing and statements on currently relevant issues on the home page of the site.
e) Open to suggestions/feedback: There’s good enough and visible focus on asking for user feedback and suggestions. How they are dealt with it however is a separate issue.
f) Alerts: Email and SMS alerts about breaking news. Sharing things first with the community is a great thing to do and it gives people enough incentive to subscribe for these alerts.
g) Share with friends: The site also lets you invite your address book contacts and contacts from various social networks like Facebook, Orkut and LinkedIn.
2) Google Adwords Campaign: Though this doesn’t come under social media per se but there is also an active Google adwords campaign, not just for keyword search but also contextual advertising. Smartly enough they’ve even bought ads for keyword “congress”. So if someone searches Google for “congress” they’ll be seeing an ad like this
Some other keywords and phrases bought are “l k advani”, “lk advani” and bjp. Incidentally SBI folks are even smarter for they too bought ads for the keyword “l k advani”. Here’s what their contextual ad looks like
Apart from the above mentioned there also some properties on the web some of which might be official, like the Facebook fan page.
These are some of the aspects of Mr Advani’s internet campaign that I could discover. The campaign is focussed more on depth than on width for now and that’s the reason there’s a lot of focus on the website and almost zero focus on other social media tools. A couple of interesting and simple things they can do are
1) have videos of his speeches uploaded under an official youtube channel, so that more people can see them and know more about him and his viewss.
2) Have an option to vote for or against his stands on various issues. This could help them understand what’s the popular opinion for netizens about his stands.
Even if they decide to focus on just the site without doing anything fancy, they can get a lot of attention and earn goodwill by just spending more time conversing with the users/visitors.
Mr Advani’s experiments with the internet should serve as an example for other politicians from India, especially the younger ones and hopefully 2009 will see more politicos finding their way to the internet.