06 June 2011

The importance of social media to the animal welfare movement

Back in the olden times of the dinosaurs if you had a message that you wanted to get out, you pretty much had to pamphlet, table, or just go around telling people about it. Now activists have a new tool at their disposal and I recommend that everyone make the most of it, because I believe it to be much more effective. That tool is social media.

I personally believe that social media outreach is important to not only animal welfare but any cause, by simply practicing it on my own and seeing the end results. I have passed out pamphlets, I have tabled, I have talked to people, but nothing has seemed to be more effective than what I am doing in the online world.

Social media is vital because it is literally how people are socializing in modern times. Most of my family members just communicate through Facebook now; even people’s pets have Facebook profiles! So with that being said you should be able to realize what an impact social media outreach can have, if utilized correctly it can spread awareness and inspiration fast.

I first got involved with social media outreach after attending a workshop on the subject during the Young Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance Conference in Washington D.C. After returning home I got to work immediately. I started a blog, a Tumblr, made a Vegan Steven fan page, wrote for ThisDishIsVeg, started a Twitter, and I linked them all together. It’s important to connect all your social media projects, so that if you post a new blog it will update to your Twitter and Facebook.

It was not long before I started receiving e-mails from people who I have touched, or even completely changed the way they think. In just 4 months time, I have formed relationships with hundreds of animal rights activists and social justice activists in general. Social media outreach works not only to create new activists but to meet up with others.

I hope that by sharing this information and my story with you, it helps you to strengthen your own social media outreach. The most important thing to remember if you want to be successful, never seem like you are on the offense. Do not make a post that calls someone out, instead make a post that explains your position and still welcomes the reader. Do not force your politics on someone, instead just believe in what you do. Keep an attitude that says “I love what I do and you can follow me if you want to, but you don’t have to.”

Never give up, I believe in you all!

Steven Garnett | Facebook | @stevengarnett
Steven is currently pursuing a B.A. in history and women's studies at East Tennessee State University. He is the founder of Vegans and Vegetarians of the Tri-Cities and a student animal rights organization at ETSU. Steven is a vegan, active feminist, and environmentalist. He enjoys film, art, and delicious vegan cuisine and wishes to educate others about oppression, regardless if it's animal oppression or human oppression. Steven's blog.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/sitharus