What we learned about the power of digital media.

Posted by Renee Magyar on July 2, 2013

The top 3 things we learned about the power of digital and social media for rural advocacy.


1. Continuous learning and improvement.

Digital media offers rural advocates the opportunity to continuously learn and adapt how they tell stories and communicate. Although the ever-changing digital media landscape can be daunting, it allows for us to try new technologies, strategies, tactics, and messages to figure out what works best for each of our own missions. The fact that the digital media landscape is always shifting (new technologies and platforms are introduced and people change how they use them) allows for us to keep our messaging fresh and adapt to the shifting landscape. Since more and more people are using digital media in their personal lives, it allows for more people within organizations and networks to engage and participate in outreach and add to group's effectiveness. Continuously learning and improving how we use digital media to advocate for rural issues allows for fun collaboration among groups of passionate people and ultimately makes our outreach more effective.

2. Increased (targeted) reach.

The use of digital and social media increases the reach of our communications efforts and allows us to target our advocacy and tailor it to the audiences that we are trying to reach. For instance, many government agencies and their staff are on twitter and they consistently monitor conversations that pertain to their organizations and the issues work on and regions they work in. This allows for the opportunity to tailor our message directly to them. We can learn about them by reading what they post, what they share, and what they 'like' and then target the conversation to pique their interest, or even, speak directly to them. The same can be said for reporters and editors from traditional media outlets as they too are paying more attention to twitter to learn about issues. By collaborating on this targeted outreach with other individuals and organizations working on the same issue, we have the ability to amplify the conversation and further increase our collective reach and effectiveness.

3. Voice.

Digital media allows for more people to participate in communications and outreach efforts, giving more people a voice and the opportunity to be heard. As digital and social media is increasingly more accessible to people working on rural issues and as policy makers and influential people are increasingly more engaged and paying attention to these mediums, stories of innovative, community-based efforts have the opportunity to be heard and the decisions that positively affect them to be made. These single voices can be amplified by collaborating with other organizations and individuals working on similar issues and aligning targeted messages to demonstrate momentum. By collaborating, combining voices, sharing messages, and measuring their results, rural advocates have the opportunity to increase their effectiveness over time so that more voices can be heard.