I was reading Social Change Any Time Every Where by Allyson Kapin and Amy Sample Ward and I came across the term “slacktivism.” Have you ever heard this before? It refers to the type of activism that takes little to no effort. A Facebook “like” or a Twitter retweet for a particular charity would be an example of this phenomenon.
While I can certainly understand how the term “slacktivism” got started, Kapin and Ward go on to explain that there isn’t anything wrong with this kind of passive participation. “But there is something wrong if we praise likes and followers instead of understanding that our fans could be primed for real action and that we should introduce opportunities for them to engage in something meaningful.”
As a YMCA, JCC, or community center it is important to have both members and non-members involved with your organization through social media. If someone is following you on Facebook or Twitter that is a great first step to something larger. These followers aren’t “slacktivists,” they are taking the first tentative step towards engaging with your organization on a meaningful level whether that is through membership, program participation, volunteerism, or donations to your organization.
Shannon Fisher recently penned a guest post for Mediashift that explained, “It all starts with one post – one post that usually includes information about a topic, sometimes linking to an article with facts and figures, and a hashtag related to the post.” Fisher goes on to explain how a cause can snowball if social influencers pick it up and share it with their networks. “The #BringBackOurGirls campaign was joined by hundreds of celebrities and political figures, along with millions of their followers, in an attempt to put public pressure on the Nigerian government to find the [kidnapped Nigerian] girls or on Boko Haram to release them.”
Take a closer look at your social followers. Are they already members? Maybe they want to feel more connected to your mission. Could you find a way to engage them with mission-related emails or phone calls? Maybe they would even be willing to become volunteers, employees, or donors for your center. If they aren’t members can you see what types of content they interact with? Maybe they just follow you to find out soccer program registration dates or maybe they are interested in other forms of participation.
You can be certain of one thing. These social followers have raised their hand to receive social communications from you. Kapin and Ward put it another way, “The opportunity is for you to hear that response [social like or follow] and give them more than a post to like — give them something with more forward motion for your mission or campaign, like …watching an informative video, making a pledge, or recruiting their friends.”