You pick up your phone, open a social media app, and what do you see? Maybe you scroll through images of friends hanging out, foodies sharing their meals, or a viral video. But beyond what seems like superficial content, what we observe on social media influences what we consider important and the way we act. As much as online spaces shape us, it’s clear that though it can be harmful, it can also be used for good. To that end, digital activism has become a popular way for individuals to spread information, encourage action, and connect with like-minded people. This form of activism may include everything from signing online petitions to posting social media content that inspires peers. Dr. Jane even listed social media as her fifth reason for hope because of its ability to connect people on a global scale for important causes.
So, how can we use digital activism to its greatest potential?
Here are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind:
DO know & engage with your audience.
What matters most to your audience? What kind of content do they respond to? A great way to stimulate results is to encourage direct communication with your audience, such as asking a question in your caption and thoughtfully answering comments. Keep in mind that people are more likely to engage when you communicate directly with them.
DON’T be discouraging.
It is counterproductive to make people feel that they’re not doing enough. Every step one takes makes a difference, and no one should feel that their efforts don’t matter. You can demonstrate your support by encouraging every step of the journey your fellow change-makers take. Bring your reusable bag to the grocery store? Fantastic! Living a more plant-based lifestyle? Amazing! Collective small actions create a big impact.
DO promote obtainable actions.
Think about what inspired you to start your journey: What initial step did you begin with? By suggesting small changes or actions, you avoid running the risk of making issues feel too difficult or complicated. You want the process of change on an individual level to feel obtainable so that more people will hop on board. Check out Roots & Shoot’s 1-Click Actions for several simple actions to promote that will help people get involved!
DON’T be shy about your views and know your facts.
There’s no shame in being a compassionate citizen! You should feel comfortable expressing your views and sharing information about issues you are passionate about. It’s crucial to open your mind to varying opinions, support your views with accurate sources, and respond kindly. Most importantly, don’t stop sharing what you believe in, because the more we are exposed to information and actions to make a difference, the more likely we are to learn and engage further.
DO stay hopeful & optimistic.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed thinking about the number of worldwide issues harming people, other animals, and the environment. Dr. Jane believes that having hope is the first step to creating change. We must concentrate on solutions, rather than using fear or catastrophic thinking, in order to move things forward.
DON’T only talk, but ACT!
Sharing on social media and signing petitions are great ways to get started. The next step can be turning that passion into even more action! There are so many ways to participate in your local community. You can start a conversation with your friends and family about issues you care about, attend or organize local events related to your areas of interest, or even start your very own Roots & Shoots project!
When used for good, online platforms can create positive impact for our planet by engaging and motivating individuals to make a difference. Digital activism creates the momentum that we need to connect — don’t undervalue how powerful it is! Utilizing the advice from these dos and don’ts will help you inspire — both online, and off.
- See if there is an existing Roots & Shoots group near you from this map.
- Start your own project using our 4-Step Formula
- Connect with like-minded individuals by joining our Roots & Shoots Facebook groups on a topic you’re passionate about!
The Jane Goodall Institute is a global community conservation organization that advances the vision and work of Dr. Jane Goodall. By protecting chimpanzees and inspiring people to conserve the natural world we all share, we improve the lives of people, animals and the environment. Everything is connected—everyone can make a difference.