A lot of things came about with the introduction of social media. We watched as relationships shifted, businesses expanded, and the means in which information was communicated transformed. With social media, information can be distributed to a lot of people in a little amount of time. This avenue of education birthed an entirely new form of activism: Social Media Activism.
With social media activism, a quick repost of a thread educates your peers on a topic and a “link in the bio” draws your followers to a petition. Social media activism makes activism quick and accessible, but it can become overwhelming.
Recently, there has been a dramatic increase in posts directing viewers toward educational threads, online petitions, and donation portals. While this is positive in many aspects, it also leaves Instagram users very overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information available. With Rebecca Scolnick’s thread on feed fatigue gaining over 300,000 likes, it isn’t hard to assume that this trend of social justice on social media might be turning activists away. But nonprofit organizations can prevent a loss in momentum by setting up comprehensive social media pages and websites.
What We are Seeing
Of all 26.6 million posts under the hashtags “BlackLivesMatter,” “BlueLivesMatter,” and “AllLivesMatter,” about 4 million contain information on protests. (Anderson et al.) While that seems like a large number, it is only 12% of the above mentioned posts, meaning a large proportion of posts are filled with information, but are void of solutions. This leaves viewers who are just being introduced to activism aware of the issues, but lost on how to fix them. A nonprofit organization with social media and Internet presence can guide lost and overwhelmed activists towards solutions via a concise and comprehensive website and social media account.
Simultaneously, we are witnessing people denounce social media activism altogether. 71% of Americans feel that social media makes “people believe that they’re making a difference when they’re really not.” (Anderson et al.) Many are criticizing hashtag activism, arguing that people will place a hashtag under a shallow post and call it activism. A well versed activist may consider social media activism trivial and non substantial, but a website or social media account that goes into depth with each issue can turn that thinking around.
How to Address It
The best way to address the overwhelmed and “over-it” activists is to create a website that caters to all levels of activists. Strategically divide information. Capitalize on the size and color of information presented. Provide links offering more research. Most importantly, equally emphasize both the problem and the solution. Paired with a visually pleasing color scheme and layout, both groups turned away by the sudden surge of social media activism can find refuge in your nonprofit’s page.
Who to Model After
No one guides their visitors through the problems and solutions like Campaign Zero. Campaign Zero is a nonprofit that works to educate individuals on police brutality and offer solutions to the issues. Their Instagram values clear and concise communication. From their simple peach colored profile picture that reads “Campaign Zero” in bold white letters to their spaced out posting patterns, Campaign Zero works to educate but not overwhelm. There is a heavy emphasis on links to more research which allows for a deeper knowledge on the issue if a person chooses to look further. Links are placed at the bottom of each aesthetically pleasing informational thread. Additionally, their bio only contains their mission statement and a link to their website. Campaign Zero’s Instagram is simple and comprehensive.
Campaign Zero is relatively new to Instagram, with their first post being made on May 31, 2020. The information presented on the account could be considered sparse, but the nonprofit ingeniously directs viewers to their website which is conveniently linked in the bio. Their website is beautifully designed and allows visitors to navigate through a complex issue with ease and confidence. It’s efficient, comprehensive, and aesthetically pleasing design not only serves to educate people, but to empower them as well.
When you first click onto Campaign Zero’s website, you are met with a striking picture of a black man with his hands up in front of what appears to be a protest. The stature of the man leaves the observer to interpret his pose as either a position of prayer or of “hands up, don’t shoot.” Paired with the words “We can end police violence in America,” the calm power of this picture immediately entices the website’s visitor and strongly suggests the purpose of the non profit.
Above this picture are the tabs linking to subpages. The tabs displayed seem to predict what a visitor is looking for, offering answers to the main questions a visitor might have. The explanatory titles allow the visitor to find exactly what they are searching for without having to guess the contents on each page.
Right under this polarizing picture is a clear and concise mission statement and graphic to compliment it. This graphic and mission statement not only state the problem, but the solutions as well, immediately addressing the overwhelmed activist’s most potent questions.
Continuing to scroll down the home page, you will find all of the basic information with links to more research and avenues of action. The information and resources are divided into three sections: The Campaign, Take Action, and Research. It hits every point, with banners separating each section clearly.
This homepage does a lot of work, without overwhelming the visitor. The strategic use of white space, infographics, and pictures provides the website’s visitor with a plethora of information while allowing them to filter how much they intake.
What is so great about the design of this website is that it is accessible for all “levels” of activists. A person new to this issue can browse through the site and learn lots of information without feeling like there are too many gaps in knowledge. At the same time, a person who has been a part of the movement can still find new information. The website’s accessible nature can be attributed to the division of information via subpages.
The Problem page is geared towards the new individual. The large graphics of the page and select choice of what statistics to feature give a broad overview of the issue at hand. What’s even more, some graphics include links to a more in depth page. Although this page lays out information, it encourages the visitor to seek out more on their own, a necessary skill to have as an activist.
This page serves both the new activist and the seasoned activist. The 10 box infographic introduced on the homepage appears again at the top of this Solutions page. Similar to the homepage, this page is divided by banners featuring a picture and subsection title that corresponds to each box in the infographic. The information is presented with prowess. Each solution is discussed in depth, but laid out on the page so that it does not overwhelm the viewer.
Each subsection begins with a small paragraph spelling out the issues that prompted this solution. It then dives into policy solutions which are presented in bold font with a corresponding clip art and followed by bullet points that explain the solution. Finally, the subsection ends by inviting the visitor to read more.
A skim of the bold font policy solutions offers a lot of information for a new activist without introducing vocabulary that might require research. The bullet points offer more information for an intermediate activist. The “Read the Research Below to Learn More About This Issue” section located at the bottom of the subsection caters to those who want an even deeper knowledge. The division of this subpage skillfully presents levels of information for everyone.
The last subpage containing information on the issue and solutions is the Reports page. Like the pages before it, there is a skillful use of both graphs and paragraphs. Once again, this provides levels to the depth of knowledge a visitor can acquire based on their discretion. Some reports are one page infographics. Others are previewed by a one page overview and accompanied by a link with more information for those who seek it.
The strategic use of font sizes, colors, and content placement allows readers to skim over the piece while still receiving all of the important information. The ability to easily filter the amount of information intake is the perfect characteristic of a website that wants to attract the overwhelmed activist while still catering to those who have been passionate for a while.
Other Sub Pages
The other sub pages of this website offer information about the organization itself and how to donate. The Donate page restates the purpose of the nonprofit and includes the ten box infographic that explains the solution points. This reminds the donor the cause in which they are donating to. It is an excellent approach, especially since many people have been asked to blindly donate to other causes on Instagram.
A conscientious non profit takes into account the accessibility of its website and social media. Working with web developers really brings a non profit to the next level and attracts a large number of volunteers. In the midst of social media activism that can overwhelm many, it is crucial that a non profit’s presence on social media comprehensively but concisely communicates issues and solutions. Doing so will not only improve their user’s experience, but will advance their non profit’s message.
Anderson, Monica, et al. “Activism in the Social Media Age.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech, Pew Research Center, 11 June 2020, www.pewresearch.org/internet/2018/07/11/activism-in-the-social-media-age/.