‘Face’ of Online Advocacy


When thinking of online advocacy there are some rules that come to mind (or pop out of an interesting reading): testing the content, presence and transparency, authentic communication,  personalization, integrity of the online-offline strategy, emotional interaction, impact, shareability, storytelling and many more.

Bearing those in mind, I was wondering what it feels like to be on the other side of the laptop screen. Recently I subscribed for newsletters from a very prominent European organization, which I would refer to as IO (international organization). What keeps on coming to my email account, are statements made during formal meetings/conferences/official visits. Which is legitimate – we all expect international community to be very ‘blah’. However what I think is not legitimate – the IO’s PR office confirming this image.

Leaving academic discussion aside, I would like to focus on the very essence of online advocacy – how does organization ‘talk’ with its ‘followers’. As a user, who agreed to become part of conversation with IO, I:

–         don’t want to hear that ‘freedom of mass media is limited in X’. I want to know how you came to X and what you did there to combat violations of media freedom.  Action.

–         am less interested in a huge blurry IO making a faceless statement. I want to see its protagonists speaking to me. Personification.

–         don’t want to watch black and white stories – I want this story to have colors. Emotions.

To be fair, although I am about to unsubscribe from newsletters, I very much support tweeting style of this IO. For every 3-4 faceless tweets from organization as such, there are regular retweets from a few of its active employees. The boundary is obviously clear: ‘So persönlich wie möglich, so privat wie nötig’, however this is what can give a post emotional color and create this missing face of conversational partner. I can indeed assume that American online communication in this sense must be more colorful than European one, but one has to know its audience and speak the same language.

Clear personalized emotional message which demonstrates action, can also provoke it – mobilize audience for support, engagement, and in the end make a change: the result, which IO as any other international community activist is trying to achieve. Or at least, is saying so.


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