2012: The year of Digital Advocacy vs Super PACs? The Amplification Project is ready to equip advocacy groups for the challenge.

The Occupy movement spurred creative signs worldwide, such as this one at the London Stock Exchange.

Maegan Carberry, curator at Upworthy, tweeted a prediction that “2012 will go down in the books as Digital Influence vs. Super PACs.” I agree. 2012 will be the most expensive election year in our country’s history; however, it has been proven that you do not need Super PAC money to have an influence. I see three trends that digital advocacy groups should take advantage of in this election year:

  1.  Social Media can be highly valuable in mobilizing;
  2. Academic luminaries are increasingly making their work available in accessible formats; and
  3. There are plenty of free tools online to amplify your message.

Social media can be highly valuable in mobilizing

The Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement have shown that it does not take Super PAC funding, or any funding, to mobilize people. All you need is a message that will go viral and evoke enough emotion to get people into the streets. In Tahrir Square it was the desire for a democratically elected leader; in the United States it was the rejection of income inequality. Each movement gained traction online through digital advocacy, mainly Facebook, with events, pages, discussion groups and wall posts – all of which are free.

The results of these digital advocacy efforts will forever be remembered for their ability to get people off their computers and into the streets. Even if the ultimate efficacy of these movements is debatable, it is undeniable that they were effective at using social media to mobilize supporters, gain attention, and change the conversation. The 1% and the 99% will be widely referenced in the 2012 elections thanks to Occupy.

Academic luminaries are increasingly making their work available in accessible formats

The term “academic luminaries” is a phrase that Amplification Project Founder, Richard Greenberg, likes to use to describe scholars who are not only leaders in their field but also visionaries for a better world and a better future. Three of our favorite academic luminaries at the Amplification Project are Michelle Alexander, Robert Reich and Cornel West. Each of these scholars not only produces valuable research and scholarship on public policy issues, but they are also working to make their bodies of work accessible to citizens beyond academia. They are using social media to spread their work and broaden their audience. My recent post on how to use scholarly research in digital advocacy can help you identify how to use the resources provided by academic luminaries.

There are plenty of free tools online to amplify your message

There is a vast landscape of online tools you can use, but don’t feel overwhelmed. Start with basic digital advocacy tools: Facebook, Twitter, and a blog. Tumblr provides a great platform for you to get creative and incorporate a blog with pictures and attractive designs, as Robert Reich has shown. Refer back to our past digital advocacy posts on these topics to help you get started, and feel free to look at what others are doing to get ideas on how you can use these tools. The important thing to remember is that you can wield plenty of influence without large sums of money.   All you need is some brainpower and a computer (or smart phone), and away you go…

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