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Changemaking Tip: Twitter & Facebook (with Glenn Gaetz)

By Visiting Animal — December 13, 2010

It’s a good thing Glenn Gaetz resides in British Columbia, because if he were any closer to New York City, I would have to adopt him. Thank dog for Skype, too, since I use it several times a day to beg Glenn to help me with whatever current technical crisis I’m having with my website/computer/email, or anything else for which my BFA in Acting is remarkably poor preparation. When he’s not responding to my tech-911 calls, Glenn Gaetz is busy being half of the genius behind Liberation BC, a Vancouver-based animal rights group that I cannot say enough good things about. He’s also a social networking guru. I was lucky enough (and intimidated as hell) to present a panel with Glenn at last year’s Let Live Animal Rights Conference all about optimizing social networking for the greater good of animals. Today, Glenn is going to set forth his knowledge of Twitter and Facebook to create for a cheat-sheet for anyone who wants to use the power of the Internet to make change for animals.

Twitter & Facebook Tips for Activists

by Glenn Gaetz

Online social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have attracted millions of users (hundreds of millions in the case of Facebook). Just the sheer number of people using these sites makes them a great place for animal rights activism.

These two sites are not just the most popular of the social networking websites — there are many others as well. Social networking is transforming the internet from a place where people consume media to one where people not only consume, but also produce, share, communicate, and connect. Social networking features are showing up on all sorts of websites.

Here are the top 4 “rules” I try to abide by when using Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites. This is by no means a definitive list, and you probably have found your own way that works for you. I’d love to hear how you are using social networking sites for activism, so please leave your ideas in the comments.

  1. Listen. In order to know what to say, you’ve got to listen to what everyone else is saying. I use Google alerts and Twitter searches to see what people are saying and respond appropriately. With Google alerts and Twitter searches, you can subscribe to the results as an RSS feed, which can then be read in the free, web-based Google Reader.
  2. Have conversations. Don’t just push out your own information. Engage with other people, answer their questions, ask questions, respond to them. There’s a reason these are “social” networking websites. If you are just posting your own information without engaging with people, chances are they’re going to stop listening.
  3. Share. Post links to what other people post. On Twitter you can “retweet“interesting tweets from other people. Share news and blog posts (even if you didn’t write them) that you think your audience would find interesting. Remember, no matter how interesting you are, no one wants to hear about you ALL the time.
  4. Thank people. This really should go without saying, but it gets forgotten a lot. If someone retweets you or shares something you’ve written, be sure to thank them. Similarly, be sure to credit people when you share something they have posted.

Beyond these 4 quasi-rules, I’d say just be nice, and polite, and appropriate. You never know how long something you post will last online, and you never know who will read it.  And remember that social networking is a SOCIAL space.

From a practical standpoint, I like to recommend that people try out a tool like Tweetdeck for managing their social networking. It’s got a really nice interface, and you can use it to manage your Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn, and a few other accounts. You can also set up columns for saved searches, lists, groups, and lots more. There are even versions for iPhone and Android.
There are no absolutes in how these sites must be used. Do what works, do what you enjoy, and have fun. And be sure to get in touch and let the rest of us know what works for you.


Glenn Gaetz

Vegan since 1997, Glenn Gaetz decided to become more active in the animal rights movement after he moved from the US to Canada in 2005. He grew up on a small homestead in Vermont with cows, pigs, and goats. More recently he spent a month as an intern at Farm Sanctuary in California, helping with animal care. Glenn received a BA in English & Philosophy from Boston University in 1997. He worked for several years in marketing at a publishing company in Boston. Now he works on fundraising campaigns for nonprofits as an Online & Creative Consultant with a Vancouver-based agency, doing graphic design, web development, and other creative work. He spends his days helping a variety of charities raise money to support their missions, and in his free time he works to promote a world where animals are treated with genuine respect. With his partner, Joanne Chang, Glenn runs the Vancouver-based animal advocacy group, Liberation BC.

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(9) Readers Comments

  1. December 13, 2010 at 8:46 am

    LIberation BC is one of the finest organizations of its kind and I'm proud to support it even though I live in Toronto. I wish there were a Liberation Ontario too!

  2. December 13, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Thanks Bonnie!

  3. December 13, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    I use Facebook and Twitter daily to support my activism. They're great tools when you want to blast out information -- whether it's a fantastic article that you'd like to see go viral or a demo you want a million people to show up at. I also post all my HuffPo blogs so people can see what I'm up to and leave comments.

  4. December 13, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    I use my Facebook to share my activist stories -- both ones from Our Hen House as well as news stories and other blogs that I find relevant/interesting/inspiring/enlightening, or just plain funny. I also use FB to maintain a personal relationship with fellow animal activists, and to see what kinds of stories others are reading and are in to. As for Twitter, I mainly use it to repost Our Hen House stuff, but Glenn, your tips on Twitter have left me feeling inspired to do more with it! :-)

  5. December 13, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    I've learned over the years that all anybody - vegan, nonvegan, whoever - really cares about in my newsletter is recipes. I think that reading a recipe is sort of like eating & everybody likes to eat. Anyway, I figured that if people like full-length recipes in the newsletter that they might like quick ones on Facebook & microscopic ones on Twitter. Every time I've done it I've had great feedback & I think that when people see veg recipes w/o ingredients they don't think of as weird, it makes it easier for them to go in this direction.

  6. December 14, 2010 at 2:38 am

    The L.O.V.E. collective is based almost completely online, so we're constantly using Twitter and Facebook to keep our members updated. Whenever one of us writes a blog -- or finds a blog on another site interesting, like Our Hen House! -- we tweet it and post it on Facebook. It's a great way to get something passed around to hundreds or even thousands of people with just a click of a button. I can't do that with a phone or a print newsletter, that's for sure.

  7. December 14, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Great tips! By posting veg- and animal-related info on Facebook, I've had the most surprising people from high school reach out and tell me they've gone veg or are trying to go veg. It really does work.I really appreciate the tip about responding to others and engaging with them. I've been doing that more on Twitter (I hadn't really done that as much before) and am so happy with the friendships and connections I've made.Now when I go to events and see people who I see online but rarely in person, it feels like we're old friends. And that's never bad for networking or for spreading a message of compassion.

  8. December 14, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    I use facebook to share top news stories, events, and campaigns with thousands of people with just the click of a button. I almost never produce original content, and yet I have amassed over 4,000 friends who want to hear the latest on a variety of my favorite social justice issues!

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