Why the LGBT Movement Needs Social Media to Win Equality

Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are changing how professional communicators and supporters in the LGBT community communicate their message of equality.  You used to get a flyer in the mail asking for a donation, or stopped at a street fair by someone with a clipboard and a rainbow ribbon pinned to their shirt, or you could have even gotten a call right before dinnertime. Because social media platforms provide incredible reach, innovative technologies that alert someone of a change in your message or send an update, and easy commenting features that encourage conversation, LGBT organizations now have a marketing tool that will allow them to share their message consistently, efficiently, and quickly.

First, Facebook
Facebook allows you to search thousands of user-generated Fan Pages based on specific keywords such as “LGBT” or “equality”. When you search these terms, Pages with these terms in the title will appear. New technology now populates wall posts that your friends are sharing on their page when you search specific terms on Facebook. Furthermore, a new partnership recently launched between Bing and Facebook. Facebook now operates as a search engine within their interface. This means that stories from around the Web now appear on your Facebook page when you plug-in search terms.

To recap, when you search “LGBT” or “equality” on Facebook you get the following results:
1.    Matching Fan Pages/Facebook Profiles with “LGBT” or “equality” in the name
2.    Matching wall posts that include “LGBT” or “equality” in the text or title that your friends are sharing
3.    Web results powered by Bing that include ”LGBT” or “equality” in the text or title

Photo By: Leone Kraus

The National Equality March (NEM) Fan Page is my favorite example of how mastering the tools of Facebook is beneficial in engaging the LGBT community. This fan page was created to generate buzz around the National Equality March that occurred in Washington DC on October 10 – 11, 2009 and drew in over 500,000 participants.   Leading up to the march, NEM provided LGBT event information, YouTube videos created by fans, photo uploads, and created a discussion platform touching on a variety of topics including carpooling to Washington DC to attend the march. Due to NEM’s ability to generate buzz, awareness, and engagement with its fans, the page lives on with over 60,000 fans to date and continues to post updated articles on issues affecting the community.

Then There’s Twitter
Twitter serves a crucial role in obtaining support for LGBT equality. With its micro-blogging and re-tweeting capabilities, LGBT organizations are quickly able to pass around messages to their Twitter followers. A powerful example of how Twitter was strategically used to reinforce a message was when Joint Chief Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen leveraged his account to reinforce his message during the Senate hearing over “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. After giving a riveting speech on why DADT should be repealed, Admiral Mike Mullen posted the following message on his Twitter page:

“Stand by what I said: Allowing homosexuals to serve openly is the right thing to do. Comes down to integrity.” – Joint Chief Chairman, Admiral Mike Mullen, Twitter account, February 2, 2010, 10:41am

Seconds after posting his carefully crafted 140 character message to his page, supporters of LGBT equality quickly began re-tweeting Admiral Mike Mullen’s post resulting in the viral population of supportive messages to quickly repeal DADT.

NOTE: Check out these messages by searching Twitter hashtag #DADT. Feel free to share other hashtags on my comment wall that pertain to DADT or other LGBT equality issues.

Utilizing YouTube
YouTube has been another powerful tool in garnering support and educating about the importance for LGBT equality. In my post “How New York State Senator Savino Hit a Home run with Social Media” I talk about the loss of the marriage bill in New York and how Senator Savino’s speech on the Senate floor before the vote became a YouTube video “must have” amongst LGBT supporters. YouTube videos are powerful message carriers. Because they can easily be spread virally across Facebook, Twitter, and many other social media platforms, LGBT supporters can use these powerful viral messages to promote equality.

NOTE: Check out my post “How New York State Senator Savino Hit Home run with Social Media” to learn how YouTube can be leveraged to win equality.

LGBT organizations need to leverage social media to win the equality fight. With more people turning to the Internet for their daily information intake and the emerging advancements of social media, it’s important that professional communicators in the LGBT community find strategic ways to use these tools to reach and engage Internet users to promote the message of LGBT equality.

Check out this short video covering what happened when Greenpeace let go of their message and leveraged social media to engage their audience.

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4 thoughts on “Why the LGBT Movement Needs Social Media to Win Equality

  1. I agree with you completely! Social media is definitely the way to go when a cause as large as the LGBT is reaching out to the nation. I really appreciate the examples you chose to illustrate your point- they did so very well. Social media definitely aides in making sure that attention and buzz are given to a specific cause.

    A gay friend of mine recently invited me to join a page on Facebook in support of the cause. If not for Facebook and Twitter, a lot of this information would not get to me. And I’m sure there are a lot of others like me who get some news through social media.

    Movements like this only benefit and grow stronger from support. Social media is an extremely effective way of generating the buzz needed to gain the support. It also is a great way of educating the public about the cause being promoted.

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