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Using Twitter for Advocacy

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Throughout history, advocacy has been used a strategy to help create awareness for an idea or cause, identify allies and partners, build coalitions, as well as influence shifts in attitudes and/or public perceptions. History has also taught us that major shifts resulting in the empowerment of an oppressed group occurred because of advocacy and not because the dominate group relinquished some of their power voluntarily for the betterment of society. Advocacy means having difficult conversations, taking a stance against the majority, going against long-held traditions, and challenging widely accepted beliefs.

ADVOCACY highlighted in greenIt’s not uncommon for someone in the majority or unaffected group to label someone advocating on behalf of a minority group as being “Radical” or not being validated by the majority of people. If this is the standard for assessing the existence of a problem, slavery would still be legal, LGBTQ Americans would still be in the closet, women would not have a voice, and Dreamers wouldn’t have the right to dream.

The purpose of advocacy is to speak up on behalf of those who are not being heard, falling through the cracks, and/or trapped within the margins as a result of policies and legislation with intended or unintended consequences.

If you can only engage in conversation or interact with people accepted by the majority, how does this affect your ability to advocate on behalf of those without representation? If someone raises an issue that does not align with the majority, why not investigate, identify the affected, and talk to them in order to draw your own conclusions? Advocacy requires a thick skin and the willingness to stand on your beliefs even when it’s not popular, and this is applicable whether your are championing someone else or yourself.

For week 4 of the Evidence based twitter chats, I wanted to explore engaging in advocacy on twitter. Dr. Kristie Holmes, a Congressional Candidate in the State of California, participated as a guest in the wake of the Supreme Court decision McCutcheon vs Federal Election Committee.

Methodology

I used the live twitter chat format to encourage participants to use the #McCutcheon hashtag which is also being used by various advocacy groups to mount protest in favor or against the decision. By engaging in the Social Work Helper tweetchat using the #swhelper hashtag, I wanted to show how using a second hashtag in tweets could do two things. (1) Influence discussion of tweeters monitoring the #McCutcheon hashtag (2) Create a presence on the #McCutcheon hashtag by a specific group which in this case was social workers. You can view the full archive of the live chat using this link: http://sfy.co/jg2Y

Best Tweets of the Week

Challenges, Barriers, and Limitations

From comments and feedback that I have received, social workers and students may feel condemned or pressured to not engage in debate whether its politics related or others areas if not widely accepted by the mainstream profession. Also, when using the twitter chat format with a research focus as I have, problem identification and hypothesis is a necessary component. However, a six week format on different topics for the purpose of research can diminish being solution focused when the nature of research is investigative.

TweetChat

Today, April 13th at 3PM EST using the hashtag #SWHelper, I want to do an assessment of the past four weeks to see what adjustments can be made to improve the last two topics of the twitter study. Next Sunday, April 20th is Easter, and we will not have a tweetchat on that date in observance of the holiday. However, we will resume on April 27th and May 4th for the last two topics of the Evidence Based Twitter Study.

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Deona Hooper, MSW is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Social Work Helper, and she has experience in nonprofit communications, tech development and social media consulting. Deona has a Masters in Social Work with a concentration in Management and Community Practice as well as a Certificate in Nonprofit Management both from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

          
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