Real change seldom comes by waiting for someone else to bring it. It is up to us. What can *YOU* change?”
~ Senator-Elect Cory Booker aka My Boo in head only
On the last day of the Digital Family Summit (Digifam) for short, Elena Sonnino spoke to us about advocacy using Social Media. The families in the audience looked thoughtfully at the slide presentation and then a young lady got up and spoke about her organization Warm Hands, Warm Hearts. One day when going to school, the nine-year old forgot her gloves. This led to a thought about how many people don’t have the luxury of going back home for gloves, but have to remain cold though winter. She collected over 500 items to be donated to this cause.
When I was nine, my biggest passion was getting the remote before my sister so I could control what we watched on TV. I would never have thought about doing a service project.
Feeling quite humbled by this nine-year old, I pondered my advocacy. In the past, I’ve lent a tweet or two for causes I believe in. I’ve cut and pasted prewritten blog posts when asked. But what is MY passion? What do I have a burning desire to see changed?
As usual, I totally over-thought this exercise. Rather than listen to the presentation, I was mentally creating a massive organization, complete with a board of directors; stakeholders and stockholders; branded merchandise; and me in fancy clothes receiving all of these accolades about what a wonderful person I was for doing this wonderful work.
Then I was wracking my brain: what could I advocate for? How do I be the best advocate?
There lies the problem.
Advocacy isn’t about ME. It’s about ME helping others. Accolades are the LAST thing I should be thinking about. An award for my work should not be what motivates me, the satisfaction of helping others should be my motivation.
Advocacy isn’t about what I get in return, advocacy is about what I give.
Doing a quick brain dump, I thought about the things I like but those things already seem to be taken. I feel defeated before I even began: how do I make a difference, make my voice heard amid the chatter of voices already out there DOING it.
Thinking about my social media presence, I’m a passive advocate already. On Election Day, I encourage people to exercise their right to vote through multiple Facebook postings. I have blog posts cheerleading scouting: Girl, Cub, and Boy. I’ve shared pictures of hats I knitted for charity. I tweet candid shots of my family as we walk along to raise awareness about kidney disease and breast cancer.
I want to do more. There are already dozens of worthy organizations that I can partner with, rather than reinvent the wheel.
I went to Facebook to pick the brain of some of my blogging friends who have been successful with using social media for advocacy. Sarah Donza Hughes, of Finnegan and the Hughes, is inspirational in getting people involved. Sarah hosts an annual Preeclampsia walk to gain more awareness of this disease. When the Jersey Shore was hit, Sarah once again called for help and asked for knitted items to send to those affected by Hurricane Sandy. Sarah received items from across the country.
Here’s Sarah’s on the way she uses social media for advocacy:
I use it to get to word out. For the Preeclampsia Foundation I use blogs to help reach new audiences and Facebook and Twitter to connect with others that want to advocate for the cause as well as those that work in the health care industry.
I also started a meet up group. We don’t really meet up but it has helped me find a lot of moms that had preeclampsia.
As for others I started to realize that as well-intentioned as they may be in helping they don’t always come through. I learned not to judge the why but to just pick up and work around it. People are good and kind and want to help but sometimes they are distracted by life commitments
See why Sarah’s my hero?
In another group, Brandi Riley of Mama Knows it All said this about social media:
I advocate using it to stay connected. Facebook groups are a great way for communities to stay informed and pass information quickly, and it also builds relationships to be able to be friends on social media.
Heather Hopson of Diary of a First Time Mom said:
Often, I ask my followers for parenting advice for me or a reader. I get lots of story ideas and engagement by pulling them into the conversation. Listening not just talking.
These ladies understand. Now to take their advice and put it to use.
How do you give back to the community using social media? What causes drive your passion? Leave your comments below.