The SEL activities helped the learners self identify the key qualities required for different roles to effectively campaign and engage with online stakeholders. They also considered the importance of empathy in these interactions, recognising that online services are not just run by technology but also by people, and that suitable engagement with those people is key to having your voice heard and taken seriously.
This Media analysis unit encourages learners to consider different types of campaign message and the best platforms online for sharing them. Recognising the features of online platforms and their audiences is key to getting a message heard, be it by platform users, service providers or individuals in that online community with significant power (e.g. politicians, leaders and changemakers).
These questions are provided as examples to initiate and guide discussions around the topic in this focus area.
- Are all social networks used in the same way?
- How do social networks differ in terms of audience/format/purpose?
- Are some types of message/content more suited to some networks (e.g. short messages, images, video, etc.)?
- How could you build a following on social media? Are there some strategies that suit a particular platform/network better than others?
The SELMA project short definition of hate speech is:
“Any online content targeting someone based on protected characteristics with the intent or likely effect of inciting, spreading or promoting hatred or other forms of discrimination.”
Match the message to the platform
This activity is designed to help your group understand that not all messages are suitable for all platforms. If they want to effect change, the way they do that has to change based on the platform you’re using to communicate that change.
Split the group into smaller groups of about five.
Provide each group with a set of platform cards. Allow the learners time to review the information on the cards and compare between platforms. Explain the information on the cards was accurate at the date of creation (late 2018) so there may be slight differences now. For the sake of the exercise they should treat this as current information.
(Unless, of course, you have the opportunity to update the information on the cards to ensure they accurately reflect the platforms.)
Now provide the groups with copies of the message cards. This set of cards contain a variety of messages in both a positive and negative tone that could be shared on any of the platforms. As a group, they should review the messages and agree which platform the message is best suited to.
Allow time for the groups to decide and sort the cards to the platform and let them know that at the end of the exercise they will be expected to feedback on their decisions.
Bring the groups back together and ask each group to select a platform and explain which messages they’ve selected and why. Invite commentary from other groups, who may agree or disagree with the decision.
Note to activity leader: Remember that each message may be communicated on a number of platforms, so there is always room for negotiation and if a learner has a well-reasoned argument for sharing a message on a platform then it is a viable option.
Learners may discover that some of their favourite networks for communicating (e.g. WhatsApp and Snapchat in particular) are not best suited to reaching a wider audience with online campaign activities. However, these services can be very useful in helping young people coordinate the activities of those involved in their campaign.
Building a following
Depending on how much time you have available and the way you interact with your group, you may wish to set the following task as a home-based learning activity for the group. Encourage the learners to carry out some research into successful engagement strategies for reaching audiences online.
Imagine you are new to (insert your preferred platform here) and want to quickly build the subscribers/followers on your channel. Describe in no more than 10 steps what strategies, and in what order, you would implement to most quickly achieve this. Learners can use this template if required.
Ask learners to bring their strategies to the next session and compare their strategies. Are there any common strategies that would be useful for their campaigning?
If relevant, discuss the implications of more extreme or risky activities e.g. taking part in the latest “challenge” in order to stay current and attract viewers/followers.
Are there any strategies that wouldn’t work on some platforms?
For example, YouTube introduced new community standards in 2019 around pranks and challenges:
“...We also don’t allow pranks that lead victims to believe they are in physical danger or that can cause real physical harm. Dangerous or abusive pranks that may cause emotional distress to children are not allowed.”
Distinguish between different types of campaign message. Identify and explain positive strategies for building a following/audience and attracting attention online.