10 Steps to Fighting Injustice through Social Media

Image via Creative Commons from Enric Garcia Torrents.

A lot of people ask me how I’ve been able to do what I’ve done. What is it I’ve done? I’ve used social media to become an extremely effective self-advocate with my heath insurance company. I have a direct line to the VP of Customer Service. He responds to my emails the same day.

This article assumes that you have an online audience already. Future updates will explain network-building strategies.

It’s been a lot of hard work but here are 10 of the steps I’ve taken.

1. Make sure the injustice you’re fighting is real.

Is your cause something that really matters? If you don’t know, ask your most skeptical friend? If you’re positive it’s real, ask your most skeptical friend anyways. You want someone who will tell you if you’re just being over sensitive. Not to belittle your issue. You can still get restitution for your problem but social media advocacy will not work.

2. Try appropriate channels first.

Don’t take to the internet at the first sign of injustice. It may be frustrating, but go through the phone tree, send the letter, or complete the form. This way you have a leg to stand on and can’t be shut down by your nemesis simply saying, “you didn’t do things right.”

3. Carefully consider the message you want to make impact.

Your primary message needs to be attention grabbing, direct, easy to understand, and provide instructions. This is a challenging communications exercise because injustice is never simple. Work to condense your message and provide links for people to dig deeper. All of that needs to be prepared before sending your initial message.

4. Bluntly ask people to help and tell them exactly how they can help.

Most of the time, people want to help but don’t know how. If you just say “help!” some people will ask how they can help, but most people will say, “wow, someone should help that person.” Be direct about what you want people to do, even if it’s just “RT Please.” (Retweet Please)

5. Put your post up early so it’s ready for prime time.

Our social media platforms use a formula to decide which content to show to whom and also when to show it. I’ve found that if I put my content online and in place by about 7:30am, it tends to be more successful. Some of my audience won’t actually see the post until 6:00pm the following day, but the people I’m really trying to reach are the heavy users. These are the people who are checking Facebook and Twitter first thing in the morning. If they react well to your content, it will be shown to more people and earlier, too.

6. Interact with everything.

If someone comments on your post. Like it and comment back. Push the conversation forward. Always drive the conversation toward the action people are to take. But do it nicely and with personality. Do not be a #commentbot.

7. Thank people like it’s your job.

This is part of being nice. When someone retweets or shares your message on Facebook they are doing you a huge favor. While they only clicked a button, they are actually making a conscious choice to give their voice to someone else. It’s something I take very seriously and I like to make sure that people know how much I appreciate their trust in me. Also, by being one of the first to comment when a friend shares your post, it raises the engagement score of your friend’s post so that more of their friends see it. In addition, it creates a link back to you so that strangers looking at the post can see your name and know that they are interacting with you; the focus of the story in addition to their friend.

8. Let people know how much they are helping.

Find a way to show people that their efforts are working. Update your audience on the progress you’re making. Dig up some stats (Twitter offers really good ones for each Tweet) and show your audience that they are part of something bigger than them and you.

9. Plan for the future.

Everyone will have ideas for you on how to make progress. It’s important to have an idea about where you’re going, but also keep an open mind. Maintain your focus and look for opportunities that fit into that focus.

10. Be 110% authentic.

Your audience craves this. They want to know they are helping a real human being. It’s one thing for your friends to support you. They know you’re a person because they have a relationship with you. A stranger doesn’t have that. The only way that you can build that relationship as quickly as possible is to be a human being online. Imperfect as you are, lay it out there and your audience will respond.

What would you add? Have you been successful at being an online advocate? Have you tried and failed? What were your sticking points?