3 key lessons in digital political activism which every brand should know

What is media activism, and how should brands handle it?

It’s hard to believe that politics existed before the internet. Today, political news and debate form an enormous part of the online world. When politics arrived on social media (as more than just a comment on a lone thread on MySpace), media activism was born.

Defined as using media and communication technologies for social or political means, media activism is essentially any form of political commentary that exists online. Media activism is so common that on Twitter it has its own name – Hashtag activism.

A bit of history:
One of the earliest and most famous examples showing the impact of media activism in real life politics is the Arab Spring, which was a series of pro-democracy uprisings in various Muslim countries (including Tunisia, Libya and Syria) starting in 2011. Key to these uprisings was media activism, as the internet was used to mobilize the public. From spreading information to organizing marches to rallying supporters, digital communication became a vital protest tool to gather, teach and instruct.

What brands need to know:
Now that politics and social media are inseparable, brands have no choice but to make sure they accurately navigate online political waters. Here are 3 key lessons in dealing with politics online as a brand:

Do your research. Whether the current movement is foreign or familiar, it is vital that a brand properly understands and empathises with the matter.

Avoid performative activism. This is when a person or brand posts about an issue online but does not follow it through with any real action (real action includes donations, petition signing or changing company structures).

Don’t ignore a movement that rightfully signals you. If a comment or accusation against your brand is relevant, it is essential that your brand responds accordingly. This forms part of crisis communication.

For expert help in dealing with politics online and implementing dynamite crisis communication strategy, get in touch with Brand Cartel and we’ll take it from there.