WITNESS invited other Pinterest users to contribute to the two boards displayed above.
As social media interns at WITNESS, we share information on how to use social media/video in human rights work in addition to sharing videos from citizen journalists worldwide. Our followers participate with us by sharing WITNESS information from their social media accounts; and in doing so, they are essentially saying “this is important” and often, “I support this.”
With hundreds of thousands of Twitter and Facebook followers, WITNESS receives a sizeable amount of retweets, shares, and likes. Beyond seeing information or links “rebroadcast” we also aim to engage with our followers. As MJ Moneymaker (MJ), our internship supervisor and lead for WITNESS’ social media presence always says, “social media is a conversation.”
With that in mind and with MJ’s leadership, we made efforts during our internship to push our community toward interactions that involved an open dialogue. Every platform has its strengths and weaknesses. With those various characteristics in mind, we began conversations in different ways such as:
- A Q & A forum event about the Zimbabwean presidential elections on Facebook, during which questions from users about the elections were answered in real time by Zimbabwean students.
- Public Pinterest boards in which we invited followers to add their favorite images related to the protests in Turkey and Brazil.
- A Google Plus community called Video4change, fostering an exchange of human rights videos and commentary on the role of video.
When we listened to the community and posed questions, “followers” became participants in the conversations by expressing their opinions or helping to curate. (Go to any of the above for examples.)
In June, there was one event we considered our most successful at engaging with our video for change community. It was an international conversation between social media activists participating in protests from Brazil and Turkey in the form of a Google Hangout On Air (hosted by our fellow intern Camille). This graphic illustrates the activity this event triggered on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus. We also put together an infographic rounded up our favorite quotes from the Hangout.
Be present. Online communities are built by listening to your followers, asking questions, hosting events, and responding. Provide opportunities for the community to share back with you, in addition to sharing your own resources and knowledge.
These are lessons that we will continue to employ beyond this internship experience as we return to school to participate in student journalism and activism.
If you have questions in addition to the examples listed or about conducting events online, comment below. MJ will write a follow up blog in response. (See what we did there?)