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25 Ways to use your blog and social media to create change

March 2, 2009

Last week I wrote about something that has been on my mind lately: Gen Y blogging and whether we are self-absorbed or not.

Do we blog about ourselves a lot? I think we do. We’re all guilty of it at times. And why wouldn’t you? Everyone’s interested in themselves, their lives, their careers. That’s human nature and you would be abnormal if you weren’t.

But no matter what the topic or ‘niche’ of your blog, if you have an audience, you can use your blog to create social change just by spreading the word and doing something. It doesn’t have to be all the time. And it doesn’t matter how big your audience is. Even if you have 1 reader (who may or may not be your mom), that will be one more person who is more educated about an issue and who may take action. 

The simple act of informing people about problems in society can go a long way towards creating action. Change has to start with education and information. And bloggers are in a fantastic place to provide that.

So here is a list of 25 ways I think bloggers can do just that, and create real change. Many thanks to Raven who helped brainstorm a good portion of the ideas on this list.

If you think of more to add, leave a comment. And if you do any of these things, let me know (and maybe link back here :)… I will be thrilled. 

1. Start simple: write a post on an issue you care about. Chances are, most people don’t know much about it. Inform them.

2. Join Bloggers Unite and agree to blog about issues you care about on a certain day with hundreds of other bloggers.

3. Or if you don’t see the issue you care about, create your own and get other bloggers to support it by writing posts too.

4. Videoblog an interview with someone who has been affected by an issue you care about: disease, poverty, war, genocide…

5. Share someone’s story who would never have a chance to be heard otherwise. 

6. Has someone you love been affected by cancer or other disease? Share your story and raise awareness.

7. Highlight nonprofits that are creating change, like this one, the Fresh Air Fund

8. Circulate a petition. Ask your readers to participate. Like this one, sent to me by a CJP reader whose daughter is fighting the disease Spinal Muscular Atrophy: www.petitiontocuresma.com

9. Vlog an event related to social change/human rights issues

10. Twitterfeed posts from groups like Human Rights Watch

11. Write about your experiences with volunteer or nonprofit work.

12. Write your own ideas on how global human rights issues can be alleviated. 

13. Participate in Blog Action Day

14. Invite someone who typically blogs about social change or political issues to write a guest post for your blog. 

15. Discuss how social media plays a role in the non-profit community.

16. Write about advocacy in digestable ways for would-be donors, supporters: Ex. Explaining how donating to Save Darfur will help fund portable stoves for Darfur so young girls and women do not have to leave the camps (thus putting themselves at risk to be attacked while gathering firewood) or the Visual petition at www.congowomen.org

17. Highlight events related to advocacy efforts of charities, advocacy organizations, or other philanthropic groups in your area.

18. Interview or profile someone involved in social justice/human rights efforts

19. Research how a person or group is using interesting or unusual means to educate others on social justice

20. Discuss how social change is being implemented in school curricula and how schools are creating the idea of “global citizenship”

21. Interview a veteran. 

22. Ask your readers to donate to a cause you care about. Even if it’s small — a few dollars still goes a long way.

23. Highlight other bloggers, especially ones who need attention in volatile areas.

24. Participate in an event like Twestival to raise money for charity. Better yet: organize one. 

25. Include a link in your blog to great websites that allow you to make a difference with just a click, like The Hunger Site.
 

I hope this is only a start. What else would you add to the list?

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33 comments

  1. I only have one reader and it’s not my mom. Is that worse?


  2. Great list of options for everyone Nisha.

    I know, as one of your commenters noted on the last post, often when you start posting about “social issues” readership drops. I started blogging in 2004 at blogspot in order to write about things most 17 year olds didn’t write about, but most of the time wrote silly stuff. When I started posting about Darfur I lost a number of readers, some of them even emailed me to tell me they were leaving for reasons like “they didn’t get peace of mind from my blog any more”, or it made them uncomfortable.

    I eventually started the Darfur blog, it gets little commentary but a fair amount of traffic and the Enough Project periodically picks up the contents for their “related blogs” section. I still do social issues on my blog, but the heavier stuff I keep separate most of the time. It works well for me.

    Everyone has to do what makes them comfortable, sometimes that is more difficult for those of us whose interests lie in the areas you are speaking of.


  3. Great post! Check out my blog: http://food4thoughtandaction.blogspot.com/

    And here’s a great website to share with others: http://www.actioncenter.org/


  4. [...] 5.  In the meantime, more sign of the times:  some hope social media will get them a job.  Others are still in Obama mode and are focusing on how social media can create change. [...]


  5. [...] 25 ways to use your blog and social media to create a change. [Politicoholic] [...]


  6. Chris — haha, well you must have at least 2 readers if you count me ;)

    Cooper — yeah I’ve heard that people don’t feel comfortable reading about some of the topics we want to blog about. And it’s a shame that people won’t read about something important because it makes them uncomfortable, when often it’s those situations that so desperately need our attention.


  7. Another great post, Nisha. You’ve reminded me (again) that the very important step after spreading ideas is catalyzing action. I think your suggestions do both, by offering practical ways to engage in positive change while at the same time generating a self-sustaining movement through social media.

    Now I just have to put my money where my mouth is and figure out how I move swiftly from the highly conceptual to the very practical in the field of scenarios and risk management. Time to blog about community scenarios and social change!

    Managing Uncertainty – http://nicholasjdavis.wordpress.com


  8. Thanks for this post and the one below! I suppose this comment is somewhat of a response to both this blog post and the previous one.

    I’m glad to see you’re socially aware and interested in using media for social change. This is a huge one for debate, but I believe that if effectively done so – any medium can be used for change. Canvas, film, music, etc. It comes down to motivation & intention. Blogging (and now twitter) has in many ways become the new media manifestation of what Tom Wolfe so famously called The Me Decade in his article “The Me Decade and the Third Great Awakening.”

    I’ve noticed recently that twitter has become a popularity contest. “How many followers can you stack up? How does that compare to your friends?”

    Sorry to rant and rave, but I was talking about this the other day with a friend and reading this reminded me!

    There are more important questions to ask about the potential of these mediums and I’m glad to see you are doing that here! Glad to see I’m not the only one concerned about these sorts of things :)

    Also – you wrote a post a few weeks ago about social media & journalism. That inspired me to write this post about role of new media in journalism and political discourse: http://interrobangblog.blogspot.com/2009/03/twitters-mainstream-media-surge-new.html

    So thanks!


  9. Great post Nisha, and as always you take the words right out of my mouth – it’s something I’ve been wanting to write about too :) We think too alike sometimes!

    One thing I’d like to add is that people can write blogs around a theme – for instance soon upcoming is International Women’s Rights Day – one can write a blog relevant for that.

    Another cool website is http://takingitglobal.org — I worked a bit with them in the past and they are great, using social media for social change and connecting young people to important global issues. Also check out http://change.org for lots of great blogs and information.

    Finally, to keep yourself informed, find some people through http://www.twellow.com/ who tweet and write about social issues. Just search the website for issues like “human rights” or “social justice” or “environment” etc and you will find people with similar interests to follow!

    Moreover, I’d like to add that we need to be more self-critical as well. Raising awareness and all is great but what are you doing in your daily life to complement this? How are you changing the world and doing good things? It can be something small, to donating money to a good organization, volunteering, and turning off the light when you leave the room. Or it can be something big – you can work for a non-profit, drive forward social change, get people to join the movement, or plan an event to raise money for a good organization. It’s important not to just stop at words. There needs to be action!


  10. Great post Nisha, and as always you take the words right out of my mouth – it’s something I’ve been wanting to write about too :) We think too alike sometimes!

    One thing I’d like to add is that people can write blogs around a theme – for instance soon upcoming is International Women’s Rights Day – one can write a blog relevant for that.

    Another cool website is http://takingitglobal.org — I worked a bit with them in the past and they are great, using social media for social change and connecting young people to important global issues. Also check out http://change.org for lots of great blogs and information.

    Finally, to keep yourself informed, find some people through http://www.twellow.com/ who tweet and write about social issues. Just search the website for issues like “human rights” or “social justice” or “environment” etc and you will find people with similar interests to follow!

    Moreover, I’d like to add that we need to be more self-critical as well. Raising awareness and all is great but what are you doing in your daily life to complement this? How are you changing the world and doing good things? It can be something small, to donating money to a good organization, volunteering, and turning off the light when you leave the room. Or it can be something big – you can work for a non-profit, drive forward social change, get people to join the movement, or plan an event to raise money for a good organization. It’s important not to just stop at words. There needs to be action!!


  11. [...] was really inspired by Nisha’s post on initiating social change. This week I came up with an idea to participate and create [...]


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  14. Great way of thinking! Can’t wait for more posts to come!


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  16. I love this post! I just started a blog because I want to express myself to the world and I love writing. This article gave me great ideas to enrich my site. Keep up the good work!


    • Glad I could help a new blogger out. Good luck with your blog – I’ll definitely make sure to check it out.


  17. I read this post and the last one, and found most of what you said to be very important.

    Allow me to bring to your attention an interesting example from back home. In 2007, when martial law/emergency rule was imposed a fellow student started a political blog to coordinate student activisim opposing the event. The blog became very popular and ended up publishing biweekly “newsletters” to keep people informed. It was a wonderful success story for social media and led to a very significant civil society movement with students playing a leading role in it. So there is hope for online activism. :)

    Here it is:
    http://pakistanmartiallaw.blogspot.com/


  18. [...] (I found Bloggers Unite! on Nisha Chittal’s post called 25 ways to use your blog and social media to create change) [...]


  19. [...] content. Content about politics, design & art, relationships, news, fashion, careers and issues. Content about things that matter. (Yes, fashion matters [...]


  20. [...] is perfect, ideal, or even good, but it’s the reality I experience. However, I am considering this. How can my blog be more socially responsible? Does it require a fake purging of the personality? [...]


  21. [...] Antoinette: A blogger making real change March 30, 2009 A few weeks ago I wrote a post on 25 ideas for how to use your blog to create change. It has since become the most popular post I have ever written (mostly thanks to getting linked in [...]


  22. [...] 25 Ways to use your blog and social media to create change Last week I wrote about something that has been on my mind lately: Gen Y blogging and whether we are self-absorbed or [...] [...]


  23. [...] you could argue blogging in of itself isn’t just waiting around), but actually acting and trying to convince others to affect change as well. The average person is looking to be led, and even tremendous leaders like [...]


  24. I wondered what a list like this would look like if it was re-written with an activist/radical perspective in mind instead of to a social networking/educational POV. Your list is fine as far as it goes but I find it overly cerebral and distanced from creating change. So I wrote my own as a kind of mirror image of yours. It’s flawed and perhaps I was overly disparaging of your list in my preface but since you inspired it, I thought you might like to see it. http://demiorator.blogspot.com/2009/04/25-ways-to-change-society.html

    Best, DemiOrator


  25. [...] few weeks ago I wrote a post on 25 ideas for how to use your blog to create change. It has since become the most popular post I have ever written (mostly thanks to getting linked in [...]


  26. After reading through the article, I feel that I need more information on the topic. Could you share some resources ?


  27. I found this article through Caitie’s blog http://caitieofohio.nomadlife.org/ today while I was browsing through her posts. Glad I did! She speaks very highly of you Nisha – I met Caitie through our time spent in Morocco together (through AIESEC too!) so it’s nice to see things come full circle.

    I recently started a blog on international development and social change @ http://reachfwd.wordpress.com/ so I hope you get the chance to check it out.

    I have used many of your 25 suggestions previously, but I’ll definitely be using some of the other ones on your list – notably asking someone in the field to write a guest post, and videoblogging an interview.


  28. [...] recently wrote about 25 ways to use your blog or social media to create change, and I found her suggestions quite interesting, and also that I had already instinctively done at [...]


  29. [...] 25 Ways to use your blog and social media to create change Politicoholic by Nisha Chittal Enjoy! Some of the ideas mentioned are truly bizarre….but definitely will spark your creativity. Barbara Ling __________________ Got marketing or money questions? We Got Friendly and Profitable Answers! Virtual Coach Income Fitness Forums [...]


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