Online activism is a form of activism that young people should take advantage of especially during the COVID-19 pandemic we currently living, as our movement and mass interaction are restricted as a result of lockdown regulations. Many people spend most of their day on the internet, therefore using social media platforms to advocate and raise awareness around injustice is a great alternative to mobilising people in person. Digital Activism is therefore an opportunity that young people should take advantage of as a platform to call for change. I am a Youth Capital Influencer and an Activist, and I have rounded up 4 steps to get started with your campaign.
Step 1: Pick your issue.
First, identify the shared issue that you feel needs to be addressed in your community, as well as the institutions and audience that you will address in your campaign. Gather the necessary information about the issue as well as the impact that the identified issue has on the social wellbeing of your community. For example, in my community, I have noticed that cadre deployment is rife in our government departments at local and provincial level.
Step 2: Choose the right platform and method.
Our second step is to choose a digital platform that you will use to address the issue that you’ve identified in your community (e.g. Facebook, Twitter etc.). Choose a platform that will enable you to reach many people in your community and the individuals, institutions and departments that you want to address. The social media platform will serve as your vehicle to raise awareness and advocate against the issue that you’ve identified. For my campaign, I have chosen Facebook because the majority of the young people in my community use the platform and it has a free mode option that people can log on for free even when they don’t have data. You then have to choose the method (channels of participation) that you going to use. (e.g. Art for social change, petition etc.). For my campaign, I decided to write short weekly Facebook statuses on how cadre deployment directly impact the high unemployment in the province. I have selected Art for social Change, writing short inserts and poetry.
Step 3: Create content and a hashtag.
The step includes creating a timeline for your online campaign with the content you have chosen to use to address the issue (short video clips, images etc.) – my advice here is to make sure to use the right language for the audience you have chosen in step 1.
Step 4: Mix it with groundwork and measure.
The final step you have to ensure that your online campaign is measurable and mix it with actual groundwork to ensure that it will result in actual change, to launch and create the desired change in your community. To measure online impact, you have to follow-up on the nature of the issue that you’ve advocating for and do a comparison of how the online campaign is impacting the actual issue on the ground, and through the response from the specific individual, Institution or department that your campaign focuses on.
Thus far six people have reached out through Facebook to be part of the campaign and many young people have raised their grievances by commenting and sharing specific status updates around the impact of cadre deployment in the municipality. The Facebook platform has given many young people in the municipality a platform to express how they feel. While 6 people might sound like a little number, I remember that all movements start small. My voice is making little waves in my community.