12 / 5 / 2014 3.33pm
Modern media has revolutionised how we campaign. A cause du jour can rise and fall within minutes and individuals can profile their campaigns in new and instantaneous ways. This rapid pace means that campaigners need to harness this energy and innovation.
Some organisations treat social media as an afterthought or optional add on. At Stonewall we’ve conscientiously sought to use social media across all of our campaigns, and sought people's support by asking them to make a pledge to help tackle not just homophobia, but other types of bullying and abuse.
Our #NoBystanders campaign – which encourages people to stand up to all forms of bullying – has had great success and exposure through Twitter and Facebook. With nearly 200,000 views and thousands of individuals and organisations pledging their support we’ve been able to engage more people than ever before about the issues of bullying and hate crime.
Whilst social media can often be a case of preaching to the choir, we’ve tried to reach out beyond those who already support us. The #NoBystanders campaign was a great example of using celebrity supporters – particularly straight allies – to show their support and mobilise their followers.
The top three celebrity tweeters for #NoBystanders had a combined follower-count of nearly 13 million– many of whom we have never directly approached.
Reaching out to new audiences becomes more pressing than ever now that legislative equality has been secured. We must now, more than ever, reach people and organisations from different backgrounds to continue changing hearts and minds. Our Rainbow Laces campaign, which saw us send rainbow coloured laces to every footballer in Britain, was backed up by a massive social media campaign that allowed us to talk to individuals and organisations had never engaged with the issue of gay equality. The result was that, within the space of one week, over a quarter of the British public had heard about a campaign to kick homophobia out of football.
We’re also clear that social media doesn’t end when you close your Twitter app. It is an essential part of our events, especially in the run-up, whilst they are taking place and after they have finished.
Using Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as part of the events is important in several ways. As a charity that takes no core government funding it’s vital that we get people involved with our events and helping to raise much needed funds. For events like our annual Brighton Equality Walk we’re able to register walkers, support fundraising efforts and celebrate successes.
Finally, at Stonewall we’re aware that we’ve been able to build a substantial online network of followers and supporters. We want to use this to promote and empower local community groups and activists. We want to be able to highlight the incredible work that is taking place in every corner of the country. We also want to use social media as a way of reaching people who might need support. For people who need advice on coming out or parenting, for example, they can access support and guidance from our team via Twitter and Facebook.
But above all our social media is there to allow us to listen to views and engage with opinions. We want to hear what you need and what you want us to do. So carry on getting and touch and talking to us. You can tweet me at @jamestaylor2
And please do take the NoBystanders pledge www.NoBystanders.org.uk
James Taylor (Head of Policy, Stonewall)