Digital Advocacy for Social Change - Citizen Research Centre
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Our advocacy programmes entail working closely with NGOs engaged in advocacy around progressive policy change.

We have two ways of looking at what we do in these programmes: we like to call our processes Digital Advocacy for Social Change OR Digital Community Mobilisation depending on the context.

There are a host of ways to put the pieces of the puzzle together – depending on the nature of the advocacy, the mandate of the organisation and the budget available.

Let’s pick a topic – let’s say advocating for national or provincial government to provide sanitary pads to all schoolgirls nationwide.

Our preferred process is as follows, and typically unfolds over a three month period. Ideally though, it is ongoing until policy change is affected:

  • Isolating the conversation on social media on the topic in question
  • Out of this conversation, generating a comprehensive list of people that have expressed an opinion favourable to our advocacy cause – in this case, all citizens that have expressed on social media that they support the provision of sanitary ware to school girls.
  • This is a list of influencers – ranked by their level of influence within the specific conversation – that can be engaged as digital advocates
  • This list encompasses the truly influential (media, celebrities, journalists, talk show hosts, politicians, DJs etc) and the contextually influential – ordinary citizens that are favourable to the cause. The real power of the model lies in the use of ordinary citizens in influencer work.
  • Note that at this point, if the NGO in question has the appropriate services available to them, we can had the list of influencers over and leave it to them to take forward.
  • Preferably, though, we construct a sequence of advocacy material for distribution: information, issue contextualisation, cost benefit analysis and the like. This is designed as a series of advocacy pieces suited to distribution on social media. The series is preferably 5-10 individual pieces of advocacy work, each building on the other.
  • We engage with all the potential digital advocates, and ask them to assist us in distributing material on social media with us. We also ask them to engage in the topic wherever they can – both on social media and in ‘real life’.
  • If a full programmatic intervention is added, these digital advocates could be trained as digital activists for use in a programmatic intervention.
  • Material is then fed onto social media over a period of time. After each ‘feed’, the conversation is analysed again and new advocates are added, creating a snowballing effect.

Our digital advocacy work can also be accompanied with social media based marketing interventions based on corporate models – all highly cost effective.  These include:

  1. Influencer identification in relevant categories & relationship building
  2. Advocate training
  3. Material for online distribution
  4. Sms / micro site campaign (incl geolocation, survey info, personal stories, remarketing opportunities etc)
  5. Online campaign development
  6. Multiple Facebook page (9 headed hydra approach) construction and message distribution through targeted promotion
  7. Social media marketing
  8. Remarketing
  9. Survey info
  10. Traditional media engagement
  11. Online community facilitation

A final piece of the puzzle is the opportunity to utilise traditional media channels to distribute a message.  This entails categorised social media research (as above), and full, published research results.  Where this are demonstrably in the public interest, interviews on television stations (SABC, ENCA), radio stations (702, SAFM, Power FM and others) and newspapers (Independent Newspapers, Mail and Guardian, Sunday Times) can be arranged.