Love it or hate it, social media has the power to change the world. Non-profit and voluntary organizations are going online to garner support by using Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and more.
Canadian organizations, however, have been slower to adopt social media as an advocacy tool. A 2014 study by the Canadian Journal of Communications found that while Canadians are taking their activism online, “…many groups have reservations about overcommitting to the technology” and are “more cautious in their adoption of social media strategy than their American counterparts.”
These groups rightly point out that it takes human power to create content, monitor accounts and answer questions—a resource that is usually limited for many over-stretched voluntary organizations.
But the payoff, in my experience, is huge. As a parent advocate, I’ve seen the power of using social media to connect people and create positive social change.
I love using social media to advocate. Here’s why.
For the past two years, I’ve volunteered with Decoding Dyslexia-Ontario. We’ve used Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and WordPress to successfully advocate and educate for children with the most common learning disability in the world–dyslexia.
Parents and their children used to be alone on the journey navigating the world of learning disabilities.
Alone understanding the diagnosis.
Alone supporting their learning and emotional needs.
Thanks to social media, our families aren’t alone anymore. We are a growing community that can’t be held back by geography or resources (we’re all volunteers from across the country).
Here are three ways our grassroots parent’s group uses social media to its advantage:
- Finding community: Our Facebook page has more than 2000 followers (and growing). We share advice, support each other through tough times, and celebrate successes too.
- Finding resources: When a child is diagnosed with a learning disability, many parents report that it’s difficult to know where to get help. Through social networking, we’ve been able to build and share a list of trusted tutors, reading experts and online resources like Understood: For learning and attention issue.
- Influencing change: Face-to-face meetings with policy makers and educators are critical to making real change for our kids. Social media helps us amplify our message and garner public support. On Twitter, we’ve been able to reach out successfully to many change makers. Recently, for example, the head of the Ontario Human Rights Commission tweeted out her support.
We’re not the only parents going online to find each other. The results of a 2017 poll showed that social networks are helping people connect and find information and, ultimately, to be better parents.
Have you used social media to advocate for a cause you care about?
Here’s who I advocate for:
Twitter: Want to change the world? Three reasons I use social media for online activism. [link to blog post]
Facebook: New on our blog! Find out how social media can help you advocate for a cause you care about. [link to blog post]