Last month I was lucky enough to attend Creating Change 2013, the largest gathering of LGBT activists in the country, produced yearly by the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force. At the New Media Training Institute I gave a presentation, curated by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), that was attended by a great mix of organizers from diverse causes and backgrounds.
Here are three of my takeaways from the experience:
1. Small- and medium-sized organizations can greatly benefit from an active social media presence. Many of the groups at the training were focused on providing services, support and advocacy for very specific populations. Some only have a few hundred connections, but by providing social content that has real utility and relevance, they add serious value to their supporters' social feeds. Your followers notice and appreciate content that is readily applicable to their community.
2. Social sharing is people-to-people. This should go without saying, but I'm often surprised by how many organizations don't focus on what makes social content really work: real people sharing with real people. Smaller organizations know this intuitively, because they know most of their social connections in "real life." Larger organizations and brands that don't have that same real-life connection can still treat their followers as real people by making sure to interact and respond to their comments. You never know who will become an evangelist for your cause with the right positive feedback.
3. There's more to the LGBT rights movement than marriage equality. The work there clearly isn't finished, but there are other very pressing issues facing the LGBT community, ranging from income inequality to public health to immigration, and the young Internet activists I met at Creating Change are ready to take on those challenges.
A version of this blog post appeared on Blue State Digital's blog.
Ryan Davis is the Executive Director of Social Innovation at Blue State Digital and was the co-founder and digital director of The Four 2012. He tweets at @RyanNewYork.