(Hat tip: Jessica Dheere, Project Director, Social Media Exchange, Beirut) for pointing to this excellent resource - A DigiActive Introduction to Facebook Activism. It comes from Digiactive, a five-month-old site devoted to digital activism and was written by Dan Schultz, a student at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. He was one of 27 individuals to win the first Knight News Challenge.
The 15-page PDF includes the pros and cons of using Facebook for activism, a step-by-step guide to organizing an activism campaign on Facebook, and examples of campaigns from Burma, Morocco, and Egypt. It is a quick read and very useful.
Before the excellent how-to advice and fantastic case studies, he explains "Why Facebook Isn't a Silver Bullet" in some very clear bullet points.
- Content on the site is disorganized
- Dedication levels are opaque
- Facebook isn't designed for activism
Schultz says about Facebook interaction design, "Facebook may be free, but it has not been designed to suit your needs as an activist organizer. This means you will find that the site's functionality does not always match what you need. You will have to stretch what's there in order to be effective."
I agree. And this is also the case for fundraising. In fact, that last point was the focus of an article I submitted to BJ Fogg's book on Facebook applications (not sure if it was or will be accepted) but here's the key idea:
This chapter takes a look at a small, but important group of Facebook applications - those that are designed to raise money or awareness for social change. With a few exceptions, these applications have yet to raise significant dollar amounts. However, deploying Facebook Apps to raise money for social causes is still in its early stages. How can it be more effective? Do nonprofits and social activists who have embraced Facebook to further their causes need to rethink their activist theories and campaign tactics? Or do application developers need to incorporate activism and donor motivations into their design?
Another point that Schultz makes:
The general model for an activism campaign is: reflect-plan-act-reflect-plan-act and this works for Facebook Activism.
We know there are different approaches to strategic planning. I think the one that matches Facebook activism best is the organic or self-organizing approach (see Margaret Wheatly's essay The Unplanned Organization)
Another view of planning is similar to the development of an organism, i.e., an “organic,” self-organizing process. Certain cultures, e.g., Native American Indians, might prefer unfolding and naturalistic “organic” planning processes more than the traditional mechanistic, linear processes. Self-organizing requires continual reference to common values, dialoguing around these values, and continued shared reflection around the systems current processes.
What type of planning style do you think works best for social media or web2.0 efforts?