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Social Media for Social Causes


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Presentation at Diplomatic Agenda 2013 Conference, Budapest, Romania. April 23, 2013.

Presentation at Diplomatic Agenda 2013 Conference, Budapest, Romania. April 23, 2013.

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  • LawyerExecutive Director of nonprofitPhotographerResearcher
  • Founded in 2008PeaceTones aims to redefine the world music industry, creating a fair trade and community development business model that breaks down knowledge and access barriers to allow artists in developing countries to build viable and sustainable businesses. We strive to create a truly global marketplace through which musicians in low-income, post-conflict or post-disaster communities can sell their music to world markets online, keep the majority of profits from their music, and return a portion of their profits to their communities on an ongoing basis. We work in particularly fragile socio-economic and political environments because we feel that:1. These are the areas that require the most ‘bridging’ in terms of gaps in legal, market and social gaps between rich and poor2. These are also areas in which music and other forms of creativity bind communities together in situations of stress and tension3. It is most important to create sustainable incomes to support those in a community who have the biggest potential to foster social cohesion, peace and a sense of harmony.
  • PeaceTones teaches musicians how to sell their own music online without a manager or record label’s help by providing musicians with help, guidance and mentoring on social media marketing and direct-to-fan sales.  In doing so, we are also trying to dispel the belief that high value proprietary products, such as intellectual property, are only for developed nations.  Music and art are unique sources of intellectual property, and as such can demand high prices in international markets.  We help musicians and communities to understand that there is not only value in these products, but also the potential for sustainable incomes. We also focus heavily on digital marketing and distribution of music because this ensures: Less profits eaten up by production of physical goods, Less environmental impact from physical waste and The ability to market across national boundaries to the widest audience possible.
  • Wanito’s videos on youtube, for example, have gone through the roof in terms of views. Most of these views came after the contest was already over, showing that once you gain traction through an online video, your visibility tends to continue rising. Cool anecdote – how a big donor of ours found out about Wanito on facebook and contributed to his kickstarter campaign because of it.Story of fake wanito video & subsequent ‘gad on’ rev’ production…Story of m’vleparenn response…Social Networks Exist. But leveraging those social networks to gain musicians sales doesn’t yet.YouTube as a promotional tool (our Wanito videos)Embedding Bandcamp as a promotional tool – have YOUR free streaming and YouTube video be the one people distribute instead of ones they upload after ripping yours. Why? Because you benefit in metrics (being able to track listened and by whom) and ad revenue (on YouTube, for example).
  • Speaking of Wanito’skickstarter, we used this great fundraising platform as a tool to raise funds to press Wanito’s albums. There are many aspects to our work that require us to be able to gain audiences:publicizing ourselves, publicizing our artists, fundraising for ourselvesFundraising for our artists to release an albumSelling our artists albumsSo for every one of these areas, we try and integrate social sharing. Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform that is very integratable with social media and we did most of our publicity for this one through facebook and twitter (plus email for older generations)
  • The new street team – every new donor joins the teamMaking the private public (your friends see that you donated and that spurs them to donate – the more people donate to these crowdsourced campaigns, the more momentum it creates and the more people are likely to donate)Making donations a shared experience – by linking up with social media and email, rally ties in your donation action with an immediate call to share. People like to talk about when they do something positive like give to a cause. By telling them that they are doing even more good by social sharing that they gave, they get a double bonus Metrics – donations platforms like this one, plus facebook, youtube, etc allow not only the nonprofit to keep track of metrics, but sometimes also the donor. Rally, for example, allows you to ‘become a fan fundraiser’ for a campaign. This means that you start your own little rally hub, you can track the donors you bring to your cause, you can create your own donation drives. It empowers donors like never before with these tools.
  • “…it doesn't take a huge marketing budget. It doesn't take a marketing genius. What it takes is understanding the psychology behind social transmission -- what makes us talk about and share things.” - Jonah Berger , Contagious: Why Things Catch OnSocial currency:, It's all about people talking about things to make themselves look good, rather than bad Triggers, which is all about the idea of "top of mind, tip of tongue." We talk about things that are on the top of our heads. Ease for emotion: When we care, we share. The more we care about a piece of information or the more we're feeling physiologically aroused, the more likely we pass something on. Public: When we can see other people doing something, we're more likely to imitate it. Practical value: Basically, it's the idea of news you can use. We share information to help others, to make them better off. Stories, or how we share things that are often wrapped up in stories or narratives.
  • Egymillióan a magyarsajtószabadságért – “One million for Hungarian press freedom”One Million for the Freedom of Press in Hungary facebook-group was established in January 2011, as a spontaneous result of the citizen’s of Hungary’s objections against the Orbán government's proposed new media law.In the winter and spring of 2011 we organized a series of successful demonstrations which mobilized many citizens. Since then, on the two major annual national celebrations: March 15 & October 23, Milla called for people to come out to Free Press road, Budapest. As a result tens of thousands of demonstrators show up regularly.We concluded that:It is not a matter of Milla becoming a party, which would increase the number of competing organizations;The most useful objective would be to understand the future long-term fundamental principles of democratic society, citizens and political forces, concerned with creating a new republic.Milla, above all, is a CIVIL PLATFORM, a specific part of the general public, which primarily supports and promotes civic interests and voices.
  • “The online presence helped in organizing mass rallies, which penetrated the mainstream media, which affected our online popularity. Played smart it was a nice interaction between online media, physical presence, mainstream media.”
  • the tools we used were mostly online. Edgy pictures,a song (with more than a million views), the most recent was a series of short films where Pinochet visits Budapest and gives advice to the government: the Hungarian president, who was also a group olympic champion in fencing was caught plagiarizing his doctoral dissertation (in whole), but he was not willing to step down, I did my fare share of claiming an individual olympic championship in Synchronized swimming... :) have an excellent location: the free press avenue in Budapest right over the danube. when the gov. booked the place after our first rally there, we fought it at court and then booked it for the next 100 years. We were harassed by the gov. continuously, and we fought back every time turning everything against them, and using that as a call for support.
  • “don’t like the system”
  • Apart from the last march 15th rally, which had a blizzard and freezing cold, all of our main rallies were in the 50-100.000 range. that being said, there is a growing fatigue with what we do, and the reasons for that are complex. We define ourselves as concerned citizens who do not want to transform the movement into a party, but want to engage in politics as outsiders. Many argue that this is not the right way to move forward: politics is done through getting elected. So some of us launched a party. But there is a huge distrust with politicians, and though this new party leads the polls amongst the oppositional parties, even if all the opposition parties agreed to join their forces, we would have a hard time getting rid of the current gov.My impression is, that most people, even our closest friends want someone to solve the problems for them, and that doesn't mix well with our message that it is You who needs to act. We are criticized heavily whatever we do, but few offer a better alternative. Also, we were relatively ineffective in shaping gov. policies. Despite these mass rallies if anything happened (apart from forcing the plagiarizing presindent's resignation) that was because Brussels threatened the gov. with something. Internal opposition was mostly disregarded. This lack of success also disheartens people.
  • Kony 2012 is a short film created by the non-governmental organization Invisible Children, Inc., authors of Invisible Children, and released on March 5, 2012.The film's purpose was to promote the charity's "Stop Kony" movement to make African cult and militia leader, indicted war criminal and the International Criminal Court fugitive Joseph Kony globally known in order to have him arrested by the end of 2012,[6] when the campaign expired.Campaign monitors Visible Measures say that thus far the 30-minute video has garnered a total of 184m views, 2400 clips and 1.2m comments. These are levels of coverage a movie director would crave for - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 has 2,600 clips associated with it and 141 million views.
  • Main Elements of video:Personalize & emotionalizeSimplifyAlternate positivity & emergency Integrate mainstream media & offline tastemakers (celebrities) - Oprah Winfrey. After she crowbarred the hashtag #KONY2012 in her 140 characters, video views sky-rocketed from 66k to 9 million plus; a lift of over 13,500%.Integrate offline events & physical ties to the causeInvoke time-sensitivityIntegrate ‘easy to achieve’ calls to action
  • Jason (the 20-year-old incredulous Jason who is in Northern Uganda as he is speaking) goes on to say “if that happened one night in America, it would be on the cover of Newsweek”. This is the emotion IC seeks to elicit in its main target audience – people who have never heard of this conflict. The target audience is not those of us who have heard of the conflict, worked in spheres of conflict management or resolution or interacted in any way with human rights issues abroad. The journey between discovering such suffering and understanding what underlies it and then what to do takes some emotional and psychological space in the mind of a new audience. One critique [from the blog, “wronging rights”]: “First, organizations like Invisible Children not only take up resources that could be used to fund more intelligent advocacy, they take up rhetorical space that could be used to develop more intelligent advocacy.”I disagree – IC appears to be capturing resources and rhetorical space that used to be spent on EVEN MORE FRIVOLOUS issues. In that way, I see it as a gateway drug to international human rights awareness and advocacy.
  • You see Jacob, one of two Ugandan protagonists (the ‘good’ in this film) for the first time only at time mark 3.56. Still no mention of Kony. Jacob is introduced through a facebook timeline, integrating Jason Russell’s offline connection with Jacob with the social media movement arc of the narrative so far. Jason and Jacob met 10 years ago, WHEN THERE WAS NO FACEBOOK. Jason Russell made the first Invisible Children video prior to facebook and that campaign took off through traditional grassroots and website-mediated campaigning only.
  • Replicability & ImprovementsPersonalize & emotionalizeSimplify but create gateways Alternate positivity & emergency Integrate mainstream media & offline tastemakers (celebrities)Integrate offline events & physical ties to the cause(Invoke time-sensitivity) Stay relevant to needs on the groundIntegrate ‘easy to achieve’ calls to actionThere’s no shame in the pivot
  • Social media today is not what social media will be in one year or five. Five years ago, twitter didn’t exist and Myspace was as popular as Facebook. What’s important to learn from these case studies is:How to tell a compelling story that people will 1. want to hear and 2. want to shareHow to give people easy ways to share to as many of their friends as possibleHow to create a real-world action for people to do, whether it is donating, representing you on the streets at a protest, or lobbying the politicians who are supposed to represent them to bring about the change they want to see.Without a compelling multimedia narrative, nobody will listen, no matter how good your cause really is.Without the tools to share, your cause may spread by word of mouth, but you are missing out on a big advantage of social media – the disintermediated network can spread your story online much quicker and further than it ever was able to spread before. At the same time, taking your grassroots campaign to traditional media gatekeepers once you have a big groundswell will push your campaign even further – snowballing disintermediated to mediated to disintermediated again. Traditional news coverage will get shared via social networks again, and can bring multiples more viewers to your cause.Finally, if all you are trying to do is gain exposure for a cause, you will get short-term exposure through these methods but it will be short-lived. People forget and something new will come along to claim their attention. It’s important to give them something real and tangible to hold on to. Give them a sense of agency when they contribute to your cause, when they buy your tshirt (which they wear and continue to gain you exposure with) and when they take to the streets for your cause.Clicking “like” or retweeting are short-term engagement tactics. There need to be medium and long-term engagement strategies put in place to really engage your supporter base.
  • Transcript

    • 1. Social Mediafor Social CausesCase Studies of the Use of Social Media& Multimedia by Grassroots ActivistsRuha
    • 2. About MeExecutive DirectorPeaceTonesFellowHarvard Law SchoolBerkman Center forInternet & Society
    • 3. Kinds of Grassroots Activism• Development• Political/Civic Engagement• Political Activism for Foreign Causes
    • 4. Case Study 1: GrassrootsDevelopment
    • 6. PeaceTones Lessons• Building exposure is about understanding whatdifferent audiences resonate with• Several pots cooking – projects, exposure, actionitems for audience• Inspiration comes from many sectors andindustries. Stay open to learning from them
    • 7. Case Study 3 – GrassrootsPolitical Action
    • 8. Milla‟s Goals1. Freedom of Press2. Freedom of Religion3. Democratic elections4. Distribution of tax burdens5. Equal opportunities6. Independent jurisdiction7. Democratic legislature8. Transparency9. Labor rights10. Public education11. Sustainable development12. Union with Europe
    • 9. Milla‟s Stated TacticsMilla, above all, is a CIVIL PLATFORM, a specific part of thegeneral public, which primarily supports and promotes civicinterests and voices by:1. Staging demonstrations2. Thematic blogs• (Don‟t Like the System)• (Alternative President)• (One Million)• (For Free Press)3. Projects and conferences by experts in their field• 2012. March, 2. Breakdown of Democracy, the UngovernableCountry, Conference• 2012. October, 4. HUNGARIAN POLIP: After the breakdown –from polib to real democracy, Conferencia
    • 10. Milla‟s Strategy“We were at the right time at the right place. There was agrowing discontent with the government, but there was noone to channel this.”“When the FB page went online, it quickly went viral. Therewere another dozen pages registered by the same people,that did not go viral. Why? who knows. But as soon as itwent viral, we started communicating things that we werehoping to go viral as well.”– An Organizer of Milla
    • 11. Viral Content
    • 12. Viral Content
    • 13. Milla‟s Lessons• Once you have gathered an audience, you mustmaintain it• Create regular events but new and surprisingcontent• Plan on effective actions to channel youraudience towards• Civic engagement does not always have directimpact, but it may have indirect and long-termbenefits
    • 14. Case Study 2: Civic Engagement inForeign Conflict Management?
    • 15. IC‟s Calls to ActionCall To Action GoalForward the link of the video Capitalize on disintermediated networksvia social mediaBuy the Kony KitDonate larger sum to Kony campaignFund IC’s work on the ground and futurecampaignsWrite to celebrities and policymakers Engage with traditional gatekeepers andtastemakersCover the night Engage with offline audiences with offlinegrassroots advocacy
    • 16. Personalizing Human Experiences
    • 17. Simplifying Foreign Conflict
    • 18. Personalizing Foreign Conflict
    • 19. Critiques• Over-simplification of facts, context & desiredoutcomes• Predominantly Western-centric• Commercialization of conflict• Appeal to emotions rather than thought-provoking or imparting knowledge• Intervention & militaristic focus of solution• Vilification of one actor/group• Exclusion of local voices in the narrative and/oruse of Western narrator
    • 20. Positive Outcomes• Increased visibility of otherwise „invisible‟ conflictswith otherwise foreign affairs myopic audiences• Model for other human rights/humanitariancampaigns
    • 21. Summary• Social Media is a tool• Fundamentals of social engagement:Personal engagementCreating a sense of communityCreating a sense of agency• Real world tie-in is crucial
    • 22. THANK YOURuha DevanesanExecutive Director, PeaceTonesInitiativeRuhatd[at]