Image Created by Timothy Pembroke
Digital Platforms: A Gateway To Social Change…
G’day there! On Tuesday March 18, 2014 – an intertwined network of social media users hailing from Sydney, Byron Bay, Canberra and beyond supported a letter I wrote to the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald.
This blog platform was created to post the letter so others could read thoughts on how SMH overlooked printing a story on a grassroots nationwide event – The March In March. In a matter of hours the letter became a viral piece of content that spread to different parts of the world. 5 days later the letter had been viewed 100,000 times. Keep in mind this was not a gangam style video clip or Charlie bit my finger from Youtube. This was a letter to a newspaper. In my mind, such letters get scrumpled into mini basketballs and aimed at the nearest recycling bin.
The Letter: https://timothypembroke.wordpress.com/2014/03/17/dear-sydney-morning-herald-re-march-in-march/
Sydney Morning Herald response by Jacqueline Maley
Media Watch – Coverage of Letter #1: http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/s3970592.htm
We got lucky. The paper neglected to report on an event it later said it should have. Encouraged by a friend, I stayed up late one night to write, pounced on an opportunity and got the timing just right…. But it’s important to acknowledge that the success of the campaign wasn’t all based on good timing. From the moment the Editors signed off and the paper went to print without reporting on a significant event, the success came from the work of people using content and social media. It was an example of Digital Platforms creating Social conversation, a growing phenomenom.
Through clicktivism, online banter and dinner table conversations the letter was given a voice. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter & Instagram played a big role – but it was the decision of people to use platforms for a cause that blossomed the outcome. It was social media being used for a social cause – not to build a personal brand.
Having posted the letter on a Monday, By Friday afternoon – respected journalist Jacqueline Maley responded on the SMH website. This story was printed in Saturday’s newspaper. On Monday night ABC television show Media Watch featured the letter and recognised the 90,000 people who had participated in the campaign. For two weeks I was in constant communication with people in a digital sense. Hundreds of folk across Australia were engaged with what had happened – feeling connected to the idea that we had unlocked a small door to claim a community victory.
The limitless potential of social networking is almost too hard to fathom. We’ve been thrown a lifeline by the digi-gods.2.4 Billion people currently have access to the internet and are intertwined in some way. It’s good fun to imagine what the likes of Gandhi and the rest would be thinking if they were around today with tools to communicate with billions with a simple… click.
A Global Piece of Content. 103,500 views across 141 countries.
Picture Gandhi being shown the graphics below in the 1940s, knowing full well he had all modern day digital tools and platforms at his disposal – for free. There is no doubt these tools would have played a major role in his communications strategy in addition to his books, public speeches and so on.
Analytics of the Sydney Morning Herald Letter
This following story is a visual re-telling of how the letter went viral over a couple of days through clicks and conversations reaching these 141 countries.
If you have a spare 15 minutes – read on. Featuring a guest tweet from Russel Brand and an appearance on Media Watch.
"Once upon a time there was an event in Australia called the March In March. It occurred nationwide on Sunday, March 16. 20,000 people marched in Sydney, and another 80,000 across Australia that day to voice their dissatisfaction with the Tony Abbott government over certain policies..."
Friday March 14
Call To Arms – Value in the mission of March In March
Sunday March 16
BACKYARD CRAFTS, MUSIC + A FISH & A MERMAID FROM THE GB REEF
Monday, March 17
Platform: iPhone & iMessage
A trusted newspaper – the Sydney Morning Herald – did not print a word or image about the March In March. A text among friends is all it took. Instant communication, the power of ideas the beauty of teamwork and people firing eachother up!
Tuesday, March 18
THE LETTER, THE BLOG & FACEBOOK
Platform: WordPress Blog, Facebook
On Monday night we finished the letter to SMH. This blog was created. The letter came from the heart and resonated with the people we showed. I posted it on Facebook to share with my friends hoping those that attended might read and support it…
Read Letter #1 HERE.*38 Shares, 99 Likes, 20 Comments
Tuesday, March 18
Twitter Account Activated
I’d never created a Twitter account. I knew it would open up avenues of digital conversation. The Tweets below got the ball rolling. Scott Ludlum Favourited this tweet 🙂
Wednesday, March 19
Read by 25,000 PEOPLE in 24 HOURS.
Platform: Facebook, Twitter
In the space of 24 hours my Facebook network pushed the letter out to their Facebook networks. I was sitting at the Leichardt library the on Wednesday morning when my old uni pal Mick gave me a buzz to see how I was travelling. He said “Mate it’s been shared 4,000 times on Facebook!”
At this point I realised the letter was a solid piece of content. I formed a strategy – to connect with as many people as possible and create channels to send the letter to friends and family in order to give it the best chance at life I could 🙂
*13 Shares, 91 Likes, 10 Comments
Emails with SMH Editor Sends Response.
I wanted to engage the Sydney Morning Herald early in the week. I wanted them to be clear that this was not an “Anti-Abbott” letter, like the March In March event had been labelled. This was a peaceful campaign. The letter simply asked for recognition for a solid community effort and a major newspaper to reconsider the idea of what it considered to be newsworthy.
Before the March took place i remember reading a quote by Tony Abbott where he said St Pats day was the only March taking place on the 16th. It made me question if Mr Abbott’s team had read the events mission statement:
"A peaceful, non-partisan citizens’ march and rally at Federal Parliament to protest against the current government’s policy decisions that are against the common good of our nation. This signifies the people’s vote of no confidence in policies of the government that go against common principles of humanity, decency, fairness social justice and equity, democratic governance, responsible global citizenship and conserving our natural heritage."
Abbott’s words lacked compassion, intelligence and could be described as cynical.
Reading the mission statement for this event was inspiring for me. On reflection I can only describe my attendance at the march as an act of support for the government. I was a citizen peacefully voicing concern for policies effecting human equality and the environment.
Tweeting Our Prime Minister
The grapevine informed me that Twitter was a powerful platform for creating conversation. I endeavoured to strike up a chat with the Prime Minister with my new account.
I tweeted PM Abbott a link to the blog highlighting that 75,000 + had viewed it – and that perhaps his dismissal – like the SMH’s – should be reconsidered.
Not long after my tweets to the PM my account was suspended.
Comments on the Love Your Mother Blog Post.
I had never considered creating a blog. For years I've been hearing of their value - however I never quite understood. It took a couple of minutes to create the blog, named it - themed it and post the letter. The first post received over 300 comments in a couple of days. My eyes were suddenly opened to a new platform. WordPress.
Some classic trolling..
LATE NIGHT IDEAS – Tweeting with Russell Brand
I’d been speaking with my buddies before the March In March about the role that high profile guys like Russell Brand can play in social change. I thought I’d try my luck striking up a yarn – knowing full well his passion for people sticking it to the man. Brand retweeted the letter to his 7.6 Million Followers.
The real success story was that the tweet received 58 retweets and favourited 50 times by community members in Australia. The digital conversation was growing (hopefully the real world chat too).
Watch him speak & sing at the March In March HERE.
Thursday, March 20
THE FACEBOOK SHARES CONTINUED
Platform: Facebook & Twitter*107 Likes, 49 Shares, 18 Comments.
The more people who contacted me during the campaign, the more I saw the idea of valuing “1 more person.” Imagine if 1 extra person felt some kind of connection to the letter and it inspired them to use their voice (online or offline) to do something.
That idea was the nourishment that I held on to. On a personal level, by this point I had become heavily engaged in the campaign, not sleeping, writing, contemplating, reaching out to anyone.
TEXTS FROM MATES
A morning text message from an old Canberra Uni mate was a pleasant surprise.
Platform: iPhone & iMessage
Email from SMH Editor-in-Chief
Patience is a viture but I was hoping to receive a response fast to keep the story ticking. In hindsight I appreciate Darren Goodsir had a lot on his plate as Editor - and our community campaign was not something they could have planned for.
Online Twitter Rally
"Friends - join in our Twitter adventure. We need to spark Conversation. Like all good Q & A Shows you need a balanced conversation. Dave Hughes, please stand up! Some folk to tweet could be:
@TonyJones_qanda, @PeterFray, @ABCMediaWatch, @wendy_harmer, @nick_xenophon@turnbullmalcolm, @d_hughesy, @tanya_plibersek, @cassandragoldie, @triplejHack, @KathViner, @JasonClareMP"
*Dozens of friends use their twitter to message these people. This was a strong show of support. Whether Tony Jones read their tweet isn’t the point. We gave ourselves a chance by using the tools we had.
Email from SMH Editor-in-Chief
Views kept rising.
The letter had been seen 84,999 more times than originally intended.
That was a celebration IMO
*86 Shares, 103 Likes, 10 Comments
Thursday, 10pm till Sunrise
Getting Close to the Weekend.
In a weary state I was surprised by the email from the SMH above. At the time I felt we had warranted a swift reply. Little did we know a response was on the way. I did a final push late on Thursday to keep the story circulating. If we could reach one more set of eyes – it was worth all of the effort.
I felt we deserved a response sooner so I voiced the opinion.
Email from Sydney Morning Herald. Jackpot!
4 days of online efforts meant we were going to get our story printed!
Platform: Facebook & Twitter
Our story was international 90,000 times in countries such as Vietnam, France, China, Saudi Arabia & China and an official printed article was on the way.
Seconds later… My pal Sless shared the story on Facebook. He must have stumbled upon the SMH Homepage. It was a spin out to see personal reference – a small victory.
Read it here: http://bit.ly/1h3OSaG
Sydney Morning Herald posted the story on their Facebook.
View the SMHs’ FB post about Jacqueline Maley’s response HERE
*226 Shares, 784 Likes
Support from our Facebook Mob
I asked people to share their thoughts on the article. Read my FB post here.
From FB Post - "In regards to the piece published today by Jacqueline Maley on the SMH website there has been plenty of love and high fives flowing through cyberspace as it was a recognition of 5 days of teamwork. There has however been mixed opinions on the content, purpose and depth of the article. Please have a read and comment any thoughts you might have. Let's start a conversation. Don't be afraid to use your voice #MarchInMarch"
*30 Shares, 49 Likes, 10 Comments
SMH Team Tweet the article – Q & A Join in the discussion.
Critical Thinking: Twitter is a powerful news source for many people. In Australia it has been slow to take off - we don't quite grasp it's power, however it is a powerful tool when used to its full effect.
Saturday, March 22
9am – I went to the Annandale Shops in my PJs to buy the Paper.
I rolled out of bed after my first proper sleep in a week. I raced up to the newsagent. I was shocked when asked for $3.20 (papers really are struggling). The Saturday SMH was thicker than I remembered. The response made it with full colour. It was a tangible result of the campaign efforts.
We were listed first on Google for “March In March.”
I posted on FB asking the community to voice opinions on the article
I wanted to encourage my personal Facebook community to voice their opinions in a digital setting. To train our brains not to be afraid of being wrong – or cut down for expressing ideas – especially if they are filled with positive intentions. Read post here.
*34 Shares, 90 Likes, 40 Comments
I gathered comments from friends and family from all walks of life re Maley’s article. There we hundreds – from strangers, old friends, new friends, family etc. It was empowering to see the energy each person piled into their peaceful and thoughtful responses.
Sunday, March 23
Platform: Notebook, Pencil & Instagram
On Saturday night I stayed up reading more community responses and started penning another response to the Sydney Morning Herald.
The main criticism of the article was clear – once again the paper did not recognise people who had marched in march reasons of positive change. Maley’s response was thoughtful, respectful and we were fortunate to have one at all – but IMO it wasn’t good enough. 100,000 people marched the streets for many reasons. These many issues were described by the paper as “grab-bag issues.” I saw real danger in this sentiment. In my mind – Newspapers like the SMH are the benchmark for upholding thoughtful use of language – and although it was an innocent remark, the truth is – it was cynicial.
IMO the state of our environment should never be slapped with a “Grab-bag issue” tag – nor should the safety of Asylum Seekers or the equality of minority groups.
Media Watch recognises our efforts!
Media Watch is a brilliant show. It is truth. Our community was recognised. It was a moment to celebrate our work being honoured on keystone Australian television show.
Read our community response to Maley’s article can be read HERE 🙂
Watch the full story HERE.
Tuesday, March 26
Re-written Letter #2 Sent to Friends & Family
On Tuesday I had completed the 2nd letter – Attempt 2. I sent it of to a group of my closest kindest friends to get feedback. I ended up cutting the letter in half again. I was completely proud – and greatful that a dozen people were willing to give their time on a work day to spent reading, punctuating and suggesting changes. We had penned an absolute gem.
Platform: Snapchat iPhone App
On Tuesday Afternoon I hopped in my car to meet a friend for coffee. It dawned on me that I hadn’t listened to music for 4 days. I put on a mix CD and a song by Perth band Pond came on as I drove over the Anzac Bridge. The energy hit me like an electric shock – I felt like I was a young kid from 1981 who had never seen live music and accidentally stumbled into an ACDC concert. Listen HERE
It just so happened I was driving past Pyrmont (Sydney Morning Herald Offices) and I had Snapchat in my hands with Pond blasting. (see screenshot below of my Snapchat video).
Sydney Morning Herald Comments Section Was Closed
Platform: Sydney Morning Herald Website
Jacqueline Maley’s article became a viral piece of content in its own right.
It generated hundreds of comments on the the SMH website, shared 4,800 times on Facebook and tweeted 625 times. This story would never have been written if it had not been for digital people power.
(Screen grab from SMH Website)
Wednesday March 26
Letter #2 Launch Day
The big day had arrived. I had hoped to construct a response that represented all 100,000 of our digital people as best i could. A post by my friend Gino was all I needed to upload the words for blog post #2.
Letter #2 – the response to the Sydney Morning Herald article was shared
Read it HERE
At this point in time – I understood that my personal Facebook network had supported the campaign for 7 days. Digital People Power was still fighting on – but we needed support to come from other places to re-ignite us. For 7 days I had been talking with the March In March organisers behind the scenes. This campaign presented incredible PR content for them. The success was their chance to leverage and reach a MUCH wider audience. To show a human side to the March not based upon hate to Tony Abbott.
The March In March Facebook page already had 100,000 likes. Very solid!
To show you the potential of what could have been – from my personal 1000 friends we had reached 100,000 people around the world. Imagine then if we had started with a base of 100,000 people. Probability, social media mathematic algorithms and common sense would tell you this story would have hit 1,000,000 sets of eyes.
The March organisers decided to ignore our community campaign as they questioned my intentions. For lack of a better description, they thought I was a conspiracy theory.
Not one of the March’s Facebook pages Shared the Letter. Melbourne’s page had 50,000 Likes. Sydney: 20,000 and so on. Just like the mainstream media had ignored the march, the admins on the Facebook pages ignored the letter. I take responsibility for this. My writing on social media at the time came across like was the pioneer.
*14 Shares, 55 Likes, 11 Comments
Thursday, March 27
PUSHING FOR OUR LEUNIG MOMENT
I had full faith if the March In March picked up the story and deployed the Social Media strategy i had sent them – that we would have seen a 2nd story in the Sydney Morning Herald. The digi-gods had been on our side up until this point. I posted Leunig content on Instagram and Facebook over the next 2 days to engage in a new way.
Saturday March 29
Community Conversation & Support
Here is just a sliver of the huge amount of support from the 2 weeks 🙂
Monday March 31, 2014
The End of March.
After 2 weeks of sharing this story It was time to look ahead. We had pushed this 2nd letter to 3000 people. There was nothing left to say. We had done an incredible thing.
Despite by best effort to build the trust of the March In March organisers, I wasn’t able to do so. I believe the 2nd letter had even greater potential to put pressure on Sydney Morning Herald’s somewhat cynical attiude towards the March movement. It wasn’t to be.
Nevertheless, at a guess – I would say there would have been 300,000 unique online interactions across all platforms – that’s not counting real world conversation.
8pm – FINAL FACEBOOK POST
Namaste. (Raised in Byron Bay).
The Analytics of a Global Piece of Content. 103,500 views across 141 countries.
People Power & Why Digital Communities Are Our Gateway To Freedom – SUMMARY
- Love Your Mother Letter #1 can be read HERE.
- Jacqueline Maley’s article can be read HERE.
- Media Watch story can be seen HERE.
- Letter #2 can be read HERE.
- Digital People Power & The Road To Freedom Blog Post
Critical Thinking: Scott Ludlum's speech was an incredible example of digital content. It spoke truth and was perfectly executed to be shared on digital platforms. Many have said this video was the main factor in him winning a Senate seat in the April WA election.