Sla-ck-ti-vis-m: A combination of the words slacker and activism. Used to describe “feel-good” measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it take satisfaction from the feeling they have contributed.
Slacktivism is the worst thing that ever happened to social causes and the promotion of important issues.
That’s usually the gist of the conversation when the term slacktivism is used. Social media gets thrown in there as well, as one of the leading causes associated with the rise of slacker activism. It makes sense; why give money or send a letter to a politician when liking a status or retweeting a post can be just as fulfilling?
This is the common perception and, in some ways, it’s true. Slacktivism and social media go hand-in-hand. Slacktivism has shown the ability to keep people from donating resources to a cause. The online community is leaning more and more into slacktivism.
But despite these gloomy trends, this couch-potato activism doesn’t need to be all bad. Social media is actually the perfect tool to turn slacktivism from ineffective to a wild success.
Non-profits, charities and associations can harness slacktivism to promote their causes, goals, industries and members on social media. But reader beware, this is not a quick fix. It is one, however, that will make an impact. Here is a road map that could take your online community from slacktivists to activists.
Slacktivism is the mother of awareness.
Liking a link, sharing a tweet or pinning a quote means the person doing all these activities is aware of a cause. This same person also feels the cause is worthy enough to share, making others aware.
This is where social media starts to thrive. Organizations can now make thousands of people aware of an issue with little material resources as long as the creative will and ability is there. This process, while doing nothing material for the cause, makes it known that a problem, and a solution, exists.
In other words, you now have their attention.
One of the biggest knocks against slacktivism is its penchant for only skimming the surface of complex topics. On the flip side, many argue that providing in-depth information is cumbersome, boring and will drive people away. This is where social media steps in and gives you the best of both worlds; in-depth education on a topic in an engaging way.
Now that you have an audience’s attention on social media, you can use it to bring them up to speed on the breadth of the issue. Social media platforms give you an array of opportunities to do so in creative ways. Infographics, short videos, interesting stats, pictures and crucial news updates can be shared to both draw your audience in and inform them in a way that personalizes the cause.
In other words, your audience is now connected to the cause with their hearts and their minds.
The next step in turning slacktivism into activism is having a conversation. Social media allows organizations to make personal connections with their audience by asking questions, encouraging participation, answering questions and providing further information.
Having a conversation is crucial to helping your audience make an impact for a cause they care about. Many people who are interested in a cause don’t know how to contribute. Letting them know the opportunities that available and how to take advantage of them eliminates some hesitancy that some people may feel.
In other words, having a conversation breaks down the barriers to participation and shows people there is a community that will participate with them.
Social media may be the vehicle that took your audience from slacktivism to activism, but oddly enough, this action may not take place on Twitter, Facebook or any one of the dozens of platforms out there.
It’s more likely that all the effort you put into tweeting, posting, taking pictures, etc., has resulted in someone donating money, volunteering or attending a public meeting. That’s great, but it doesn’t mean social media doesn’t play a role in taking action.
The advent of the Facebook donate button and the rise of several innovative mobile apps connected to platforms such as Twitter (case in point, the Movember app), means people can give to their cause of choice through social media.
In other words, giving has never been so easy. Make this point known.
Keeping this thirst for action alive takes effort and a constant desire to maintain and strengthen the organization-audience relationship. You don’t want your connections to fall back into the slacker part of slacktivism, so you shouldn’t either.
Social media is one of the best tools to ensure you stay in contact with those that gave to a cause. You can show the benefits of an event, project, campaign, protest or donation with your social media accounts.
Platforms, such as LinkedIn or Facebook, can also be a good way for action-takers to connect with those that have had similar experiences and are looking for ways to collaborate on another project for your cause.
In other words, people can see they made a difference and will keep in touch with your organization and its cause.
Slacktivism doesn’t need to be harmful to your cause. In fact, with the help of social media, slacktivism can actually lead to a fully engaged and active audience for your organization. It is a process and it takes time and dedication, but the results are well worth the resources.
What do you think? Can slacktivists be a boon for your cause? Let us know in the comments!