I have a bad habit of scribbling notes on paper and then not remembering whether I typed them up or not. I kinda think that in this case I didn’t!
If you are on social media a lot, and especially if you are the admin of a group, you might get a lot of requests from people to share stuff. It could be a post about their own business thing, or it could be a post for the greater good such as an article about seed-saving, or protecting wildlife.
The natural inclination is to want to help the person, or people, or humanitarian cause, by sharing. But the volume of requests in your inbox (be it email, messenger, phone text or whatever) can get exhausting. A lot of the time it’s just a naked link, such as a link to a video with no explanation, so you’re supposed to click on the video and sit through it to find out what it’s even about.
Here are some tips I scribbled out one day when I was feeling overwhelmed by things in my inboxes that other people wanted me to share.
I. For those times you feel willing and able to share the content, you can streamline the process and make less work for yourself. Here are some tricks I’ve picked up over the years.
• Screen-shot and copy-paste for the win: Those fancy HTML/rich text newsletters we get in our inboxes from eco organizations and other worthy causes look nice, but can be a pain to try and share on Facebook or Twitter. Ditto for event invites that people send to your Messenger or phone text. My hack is to 1) take a screenshot, or screenshots, of the most powerful image from the email or message. (I usually don’t worry about taking the extra effort to crop the image; if it says TMobile and my phone battery capacity at the top, so be it.) Then 2) copy from the body of the email a short excerpt of what you see as the most essential text, plus (very important) the link to their website or event or whatever. 3) Open a post in Facebook or Twitter or wherever, and first paste the screenshot image you took, then paste the text and link. (If you paste the text and link first, Facebook or Twitter will end up displaying something that may not be the most powerful image from the email newsletter, and in fact may not be an image at all — might be just a line of ugly grey text. Keep visual control of the post and circumvent “default ugly link syndrome” by pasting the screenshot before you paste the text. If you forget and do it in the wrong order, as I often have, don’t worry, just scrap the Facebook post and start over.)
• Look for corresponding online presence: Sometimes it’s easier to just go directly to the person or org’s website and screenshot/copy-paste share from there, rather than trying to work with the email.
• Phone-text-to-self is your friend! This tip is for bloggers. When I’m copy-pasting an excerpt from a great article or email newsletter to this blog, I have learned to first paste the quote into a phone text to myself. Otherwise the 48-point font, yellow highlighting, and whatever other fancy HTML/rich text formatting the authors put into the website or email newsletter gets imported into my blog post and I can’t figure out how to get rid of it. Plain text is necessary, and I have found that the only reliable way to strip out formatting is by first phone-texting the excerpt to myself, and then copy-pasting from the phone-text to this blog. (Sssh, keep it quiet, or next thing you know we’ll have an “improvement” from the cellphone OS designers, allowing rich text formatting to be retained in SMS messages!)
• Note to people who send out email newsletters: Consider using just the default plain text of your email app, rather than all kinds of different font sizes, colors, etc. It’s actually a refreshing look! Author, speaker, entrepreneur Jeff Goins’ newsletter is my favorite example of an email newletter I always enjoy receiving, that uses plain text, often without even images. (You can still include photos and other images in a plain-text newsletter though. Of those who use photos/images, my favorites have only one or maybe two. Simplicity is so refreshing!)
II. For those times when you are not willing/able to take on the free labor of sharing:
• Message the other person back, “This is great stuff, really important and people need to know this! Please share it to the groups, not just to me!” (Sometimes fellow activists do this private-message thing; sometimes they just have a case of the shy’s and need a bit of encouragement to know that what they are sharing in your inbox deserves a much wider audience.)
• Don’t accept “naked links.” If someone sends you a link with no explanation, ask them to write a few words telling you their takeaways from it. I particularly do this a lot with video links. I’m not going to sit through a video just to get the main points to see if it’s worth sharing or not.
• Heads-up, if you are on social media a lot and dedicate a lot of your waking hours to activism, people might assume you are RETIRED or living a life of leisure. This has happened to me. I realized it’s on me to be more clear with people that I work fulltime and am not Richie Rich or Lola Leisure. Freelance yes, at-home (mostly) yes, but nonetheless I work fulltime. And even if I did not, my time and labor have value. As do yours! A good way of conveying our professional/occupational status is via our Facebook profiles, email signature lines, and so on.
• Share skills: If you come across any good online classes, magazine articles, TikTok videos, or other resources about how to post effectively on social media, share them on your page and in your activist groups. Same goes for basic computer classes and articles, if it seems like a lot of people in your network might just not know the basic nuts and bolts of a keyboard and operating system such as how to copy-paste, take a screenshot etc. Also I have found if I don’t know how to do something, google is my friend. I just type “screen shot ios” or whatever.
• Recognize the value of publicity: Social-media marketing, and writing, are two task categories that for whatever reason have become incredibly devalued. It’s ironic, because 1) these tasks are difficult and time-consuming to do well; and 2) I see so many good works and events and movements not getting the attendance or other awareness they deserve. Or people and organizations who should so totally know about each other and be working together have no clue about each other’s existence. Why? Because the owners/organizers didn’t take even the most basic steps to get the word out. If an event organizer doesn’t bother to do publicity, who should?
• Ask to get paid: If you find people turning to you a lot for help with publicity, you could consider becoming a social-media marketing firm and offering paid packages of services. I have sometimes thought of doing this but I’m pretty well occupied with other stuff.
• Ask for reciprocity: If you’ve gone out of your way to help someone get the word out about their thing, you could ask them to support your thing, be it by sharing your posts or donating money or signing up for your class or buying your product or Liking your page or whatever.
• (To use a permaculture design term): “Obtain a yield!” It’s OK to get something for your efforts other than just the warm fuzzy feeling of helping someone. So, for example, I’ll share someone’s link, quote their content, etc., on DEEP GREEN book’s Facebook page, Permaculture Daytona’s Facebook page, or my other pages. Their content is adding value to my page, and I am helping them by bringing their sweet juicy content to an additional audience. It feels like a fair trade! Also, people like recognition. I tag people or magazines or farms or whatever and praise their work (only if I sincerely mean it, of course), and often as not, the tagged person/org will stop by my page and say thanks, and sometimes also Like my page. Again, it feels like a fair trade.
Social-media sharing and other forms of publicity are more laborious than they might seem. By being more aware of this, and of how important publicity is, maybe we can shift the consciousness around this and share the publicity workload, to the benefit of us all!
These are just my tips; got any tips you’d like to share on this subject? If so, drop me a line, and also let me know if you’d like me to include your name, website, book title, etc. along with your tip. A bit of extra publicity never hurts, right?