Markiel Simpson is an activist in British Columbia who is pushing for the implementation of a Canadian Black History curriculum throughout the province. He talked about how he got started and simply said that he began by researching community members and organizing a meeting with organizers and different groups whose objectives turned out to align. Most of what he spoke to came from his own experiences. It is how these lived experiences become tangible in our communities, how we can be the experts of our own lived experiences and knowledge.
He referred to approaching Twitter as a science. You have to slowly earn your audience through engagement, figure out your niche and how your voice fits into the whole. He went on to say that it is when the voices of grassroots organizers are being heard by people in positions of power and are taken into account that we become stronger as a community. When asked if you can count on consistent engagement online, he said it really depends on the content, different things attract different people.
The role of social media in advocacy was also discussed during the interview. Different corners of the internet (medical, political, etc.) offer different bases. However, it is important to get allies to amplify your messages in your niche. Creating a strong foundation allows your message to be carried further than ever before. Through social media, we have the opportunity to make connections that would not otherwise be possible.
Simpson then spoke about the importance to continue dialogue, identify the leaders in the community and amplify those voices. We can use social media to be better informed. There is more transparency for our politicians, we get to see another side of them. It also allows them to engage with the people in the public, the people they represent. He uses Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as an example. She engages with people on many levels, using social media as her primary tool. She is able to hear the small voices in the community and use her platform to amplify important causes and conversations.
How does social media engage communications?
Engagement provides a great way to measure whether the content you create is echoing with your audience (Eckstein, n.d.). Social media posts that generate more active and thoughtful interactions will be more widely shared. It is important to remember what Markiel Simpson said about his experience with social media engagement. He commented that consistent engagement cannot be guaranteed because some people are drawn to certain topics while others disagree. For this reason, building a reliable base, connecting with key members of the community so that they can amplify your voice, is key. Finding your niche, your corner of the internet is important for spreading specific messages, especially when it comes to engagement. Creating a network of like-minded and unlike-minded individuals and groups allows for relevant discourse in the community.
How does social media challenge communications?
There will always be negativity online. Naturally, there will be disagreements and you will find that not everyone shares your point of view. However, as Simpson pointed out, it’s not about yelling at everyone and telling them they made a mistake. This is about trying to meet people where they are and building from there. Of course, progress doesn’t happen overnight either. The challenge is to be seen and heard among millions of others fighting for the same causes. That’s why it’s important to use social media platforms to facilitate engagement between influencers and grassroots organizers and community members. This allows the community as a whole to feel that it has a voice, and that its views are shared by many others.
Eckstein, M. (n.d.). Social Media Engagement: Why It’s Important and How To Do It Well—The Buffer Blog. Buffer Library. Retrieved from https://buffer.com/library/social-media-engagement/
MILLER. (2021, June 1). EDCI – 338 MARKIEL SIMPSON. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsoDHGaXNNs