Building Momentum on Social Media

Between September 2014 and May 22nd, 2015, Yes Equality built a strong social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram, amassing more than 100,000 followers across the platforms. Its social media campaign aimed at achieving two key objectives: to engage, educate and inform undecided voters, and to mobilise, motivate and empower supporters so they could become agents of change.

Yes Equality was committed to supporting honest, transparent and knowledgeable dialogue on the Internet through social media. It encouraged providing an open and respectful space where people could engage in a positive debate.

During referendum campaigns in Ireland, regulations require broadcast media to give balanced coverage to both sides of the debate. Despite the divisive nature of the referendum, and the “us versus them” debates which played out on traditional media, the strong leadership of the Yes campaign and its use of social media created an open and respectful space. The campaign was able to promote key messages, set its own agenda and control the narrative on online platforms.

Facebook was the most effective platform for engaging and reaching the undecided voters and potential supporters. Its visual nature was ideal for supporting and amplifying engaging and informative content created by Yes Equality – including images, video, graphics and infographics. People with genuine questions or concerns were invited to get in touch. This resulted in many private messages to the Yes Equality Facebook page, all of which were answered. It was important for the campaign to hold up their end of the bargain. If you are inviting questions, it is important that you make the effort and respond.

Twitter was extremely effective for real-time campaign communications, sharing breaking news and engaging with journalists and influencers in the debate. It was also an important tool for mobilising, motivating and empowering supporters.

Twitter and related apps like TweetDeck were also used to monitor campaign activity – for example, breaking news, local media coverage and communications from Yes Equality local groups, opposition groups and other stakeholders. By setting alerts for certain users, keywords, and so on, the conversation online was monitored closely and used proactively. This also allowed for early warning, should a crisis occur. If a crisis on social media was identified, the campaign was ready to respond appropriately, addressing any inappropriate messages or misuse.

Instagram was used to engage the support base with empowering and creative imagery. Content from campaign-related hashtags was harvested and reposted on the Yes Equality Instagram feed.

YouTube was a key distribution channel for the various video content created, such as the daily campaign update vlogs from campaign co-director Grainne Healy.

The approach to social media sought to make it as easy as possible for people to show their support, leading to increased momentum. This included social media avatars, uploading videos on why you are voting Yes, donating to the campaign, joining local canvassing group, etc. These efforts were underpinned by clear calls to action (CTAs) that facilitated different campaign objectives. Each CTA was supported by material explaining clearly how and why to do it. For example, when encouraging people to join local canvassing groups, the invitation was accompanied by videos of Yes Equality canvassers, interactive maps of local groups, timetables and guidelines.

By anticipating and addressing the obstacles people may have faced in taking action, Yes Equality made it easier for them to take the next step to get involved.