Using social media around a stunt

How can you use social media around a photo opportunity, stunt or event to increase your reach and engage your supporters? Tips and advice from the eCampaigning Forum list, plus a short case study from the Move Your Money campaign.

Images, Images, Images!

"That's what worked for us extremely well recently, with Facebook in particular. People tend to share images much much more than any video or text. Whatever you want to say, put it into pictures."

"images... even short videos, interviews with people there, scenes of the mob itself... though these will increase your upload time a lot, and might be better to post after, unless you've got a few phones/laptops that can take turns uploading..."

Reach out in advance

"...ask for supportive organisations to all tweet about what you’re doing at the same time tomorrow morning to build momentum, same goes for journalists."

"I would start with the 'before' question: who are the key people - ideally people already aware of your work, but people you might be able to reach out to for support? ... there are definitely lots who I'm sure you could 'seed' the action with, to get a boost on the day...

And keep talking

"... social media works best when it is social - ie - not just 1 org's account sending all the messages about something, but when there is a sense that this is bigger than a particular org. The more people you can ensure are initially posting about it, the more are likely to pick-up on it, so your advance allies are often key at this stage."

"My feeling on live tweeting events is that you really can’t overdo it with Twitter. We’ve been live tweeting minute by minute from AGMs this year and we’ve seen a real boost to our number of followers. If people don’t like it they’ll just ignore you."

"Have you thought about sending someone into the... meeting so you could tweet from that and the protest at the same time? "

Make the most of hashtags

"We’ve found that it’s worth including as many relevant #’s as can fit.

Make sure you prepare

"Have your own 3G wireless dongles! Easy to forget, but means you're not at mercy of whatever other connections are around!"

"If you can, have a couple (at least) of people whose main responsibility is Tweeting and uploading photos. These are often time-consuming roles and often don't happen til later if they're not someone's specific responsibility."

"Gather up a handful of top facts in advance ready to share them alongside your images and updates. And maybe think of a few good Twitter headlines for your pics in advance... tabloid type headlines that will help grab people's attention (cheesy puns + plays on words type-thing ;-)"

This article summarises a discussion on the eCampaigning Forum email list. Thanks to everyone who contributed.

Case study: Move Your Money's #ByeBarclays flashmob

Original questioner Gavin Thomson, of the UK 'Move your Money' campaign, reports back on the event which prompted his question. Move your Money encourages people to move their savings and current accounts out of the big high street banks to more ethical alternatives, and on 4 July, following the revelations that Barclays Bank had been involved in illegal fixing of the Libor inter-bank lending rate, they held a flashmob action encouraging people to say #ByeBarclays.

We had a great response from ECF list but, in the end, didn't have the time to implement many of the ideas. The action itself did exactly what we needed it to though - within social media, on the ground, and in media generally. We got really good broadcast coverage, including interviews on Sky and Al-Jazeera. Images from the action are still being used in print + online articles on Libor. And we had a massive reach on social media.

While @moveyourmoneyuk's follower count didnt massively increase, images and reports from the action were widely shared. This, from @MissEllieMae, is a good example .

As ECF respondents suggested, we were very much aware of the importance of images. We posted a number of pics during the action, on twitter and facebook, and a Facebook album of photos from the action proved really popular. I think we did well at reaching out to supporters and partners in the run-up to the action, and many organisations and individuals helped publicise the action.

In terms of what we should have done differently, it's basically down to resources. Time and energy. It would have been good if we'd known every twitter user who was at the action, and could have RTed their pics and comments, rather than the majority coming from us. This would have made it inclusive, a range of voices (and perhaps made it look like it was bigger than it was. No bad thing).

One final point. Due to the reach of the images on SM, in the hours after the action there was alot of discussion on twitter about our organisation, and our campaign ask. In other words, people were just hearing about us for the first time. This tweet - again @MissEllieMae - is a good representation.

Jonathan is a Guardian journo, and perhaps representative of an audience we'd been trying to reach for ages.

The following day we received our best bit of media coverage up to that point. Zoe Williams (again, Guardian journo) wrote a lovely explanation/endorsement of our campaign. Perhaps she had already heard of us before the action, but the exposure we got certainly didn't hurt. And that was just the start. In the days after the action, we received a lot more print coverage, in the Guardian especially, later we received a prominent spot on a Newsnight discussion on banks, and a lengthy segment on primetime The One Show.

The reams of coverage we started getting owed something, I think, to reaching journos on social media via this action. Perhaps worth keeping in mind for how old and new media interact.

by ECF Discussion Summaries published Aug 05, 2012,