As Christians, we’re called to speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves (Prov. 31:8). We’re also advised to live at peace with everyone whenever possible. (Romans 12:18).
Those are challenging commands. How can we possibly speak out against injustice and live in peace at the same time?
We believe there’s a way to be part of the conversation about injustice on social media while still being respectful — even uplifting. World Vision Advocacy speaks out in love: We challenge the policies and beliefs that keep people in poverty while partnering with governments to change them.
Social media can be a powerful way to raise awareness, encourage action, and stay informed. Here are seven ways to use social media for advocacy that are positive, effective, and fun!
1. Say thank you
Everyone likes being thanked! There are plenty of negative messages on social media, and it can be a breath of fresh air to see good work being recognized. One hundred percent of Congress is on social media, and it’s easy to tag them in a thank-you post on Facebook or use their handle on Twitter. It can be as simple as:
Thanking people encourages people like our representatives to keep up valiant efforts, and it makes others aware of important issues — and lets them know that change is happening. You can also thank organizations, friends, family, and anyone else you see creating positive change.
2. Tell your story
Most of us use social media to stay connected with our friends, and people will listen to a friend when they might ignore someone else. You may not have the latest statistics or talking points, but sharing sincerely about why you care about something can be even more powerful. On social media, you have the opportunity to reach your unique network with a loving perspective they may not hear anywhere else.
We love the simple but encouraging message World Vision Volunteer Advocate Jennifer shared on Facebook. Now others can be inspired by Jennifer’s action!
3. Stay informed
It’s true that you can’t believe everything you see on the internet, but it’s also true that there is a lot of good information out there. On Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, you can follow organizations and news sources you trust (like World Vision!) to stay in the loop on current events. Even the most traditional news sources are on social media — don’t miss out on the conversation!
On Twitter, you can search for specific topics by hashtag. If you see a tweet that interests you, check for a hashtag you can enter to search for more information. You can also retweet and share relevant information with your own social network to help them stay informed.
4. Demonstrate healthy dialogue
Was there ever a time when you saw a post on social media that made you stop and think? What about a post that made you angry?
We do believe in speaking up, but when posting and responding on social media, we recommend remembering James’s words in the Bible: “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” James 3:17 (NIV). By using this attitude when we speak out on social media — or anywhere — we increase our chances that people will actually consider what we say. How we say something is equally important as what we say, especially when we remember that God wants us to be known for our love (John 13:35).
5. Speak to Congress directly
Everyone in Congress is on social media, and it’s an easy way to connect with your representatives to stay informed, encourage action, and develop a positive relationship. And while it can seem like your tweet gets lost in the depths of cyberspace, take heart! Social media posts are tracked by each representative’s staff.
In a 2014 poll, three-fourths of senior staff said that between one and 30 comments can be enough to grab their attention on an issue. And social media-based communication with constituents is expected to increase over the next five to 10 years. This is a huge opportunity to speak up for kids!
6. Use your influence to promote action
Social media is a great place to encourage action! Many people are willing to act — they just need to be asked. By sharing a petition you believe in, starting a fundraiser, or asking people to send their member of Congress a note of encouragement, you are giving your network an opportunity to be part of positive change. If an issue is important enough for you to act, share the link so that your friends can act, too. They should thank you for leading the charge!
If you’re wondering if this kind of advocacy can really make a difference, just look at what World Vision advocates accomplished in 2018.
7. Raise awareness — and hope!
Even if you’re not ready to ask your friends to get involved, you can still share about what’s going on in the world and how you’re involved. Sharing videos, articles, or your own story can be a powerful way to get people thinking about issues they might not have heard about. It can be as simple as sharing an article, retweeting something important, or posting about an action you took.
People can’t be part of the change if they’re unaware of the need. And raising awareness isn’t just about telling people about the injustice in the world. We can also share about the good work that World Vision and other organizations are doing.
Some practical tips:
Here are a few pointers to keep in mind as you speak out on social media:
- Check spelling and grammar. People are more likely to take you seriously when your words are spelled correctly and grammatically correct. You can copy your post into a word processing program to highlight grammar mistakes before posting, and you should always give your post a second look before sending it out to the world.
- Go pro: Get your constituent badge on Facebook! If you visit facebook.com/townhall you can easily find your representatives and follow them. If you turn on your constituent badge (on the right-hand side), a badge will appear next to your name whenever you interact with an official who represents your area.
- Use hashtags! Hashtags on Twitter allow other people who are interested in similar topics to see and retweet your tweets. World Vision often uses these hastags: #WVAdvocacy #EndPoverty #ForeignAssistance #WorthThePenny #SaveMomsandkids #EndHunger #RefugeeCrisis
- Be aware of your privacy settings. We recommend making advocacy posts public, but there are some posts you may only want friends to see. If you’re unsure about how to manage your privacy settings, check out our complete Social Media Guide for Advocates.
- Take good care of yourself! Sometimes, even if you’ve been as loving as possible, you might receive comments that are hurtful. Remember that you can always you can delete or hide individual comments, or if you need to, delete a post completely.
There you have it. Social media is a powerful tool, and we believe it can be a tool for good!
However you choose to raise your voice, we are grateful that there are so many caring people in the world to join us as we advocate for the safety, health, and opportunity for every child.
May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you. Psalm 33:22 (NIV)
Looking for more resources?
- Check out our primer on social media and why it matters.
- Read up on World Vision’s current action issues and find resources for all levels of advocates on our resources page.
- Take action now! See what we’re currently advocating for and raise your voice with us.
- Stay informed on the issues World Vision is mobilizing on by signing up for weekly or monthly emails. We’ll keep you in the loop on what we’re speaking out about! You can sign up below:
Top photo: Debby, 7, plays with her friend, Beatrice. (©2018 World Vision/photo by Laura Reinhardt)