Memes and GIFs shared on social media shape public opinion more than paid ads. They get more attention, have more credibility and cost a fraction of advertising.
Use memes and GIFs for Instagram and Twitter as part of your communication strategy. These peer-to-peer sharing of graphics have a lasting influence. GIFs are especially effective due to their animation, lack of sound, immediacy of consumption, minimal time demands, and storytelling capabilities.
This blog describes:
- A free, unbranded toolkit (First 100 Days) with GIFs/Memes on the First 100 Days.
- Tips for designing your own meme with Canva, a free app
- Students For Justice, a paid student intern program that applies digital skills to progressive causes
- How to use your volunteers and supporters to boost your social media content
Progressive GIFs on demand
Creating memes to go viral requires experimentation with dozens of different designs so more people can find one to their taste. This is best done by experts like TaskForce, a group of 'artists, strategists, organizers, and dreamers working at the intersection of arts and social justice to make lasting change'.
They have created over 10,000 GIFs, stickers and memes on a wide range of topics that matter to progressives. Their content is optimized for search engines such as GIPHY which serves the majority of GIFs. First 100 Days and Into Action are two initiatives from Taskforce that offer free content to help other progressive groups shape the conversation on social media.
First 100 Days
These GIFs convert the formal talking points about the First 100 Days accomplishments into bite-sized graphics designed to be shared for social media. Same message. Different format.
"In his first 100 days, President Biden acted to get America back on track by addressing the crises facing this nation: vaccinating America to beat the pandemic, delivering much needed help to American families, making transformative investments to rescue and rebuild our economy, and fundamentally showing that government can deliver for its people. In these 100 days of rescue, repair, and renewal, the nation is healthier, safer, more prosperous, fairer, and more competitive."
Design your own Instagram meme
How do you design a meme or GIF for your cause? Create them with the free Canva app which offers dozens of popular designs that are easily customized.
Instagram post design tips:
- Make sure that the colors you're using for your photos/infographics/graphics don't clash with the rest of your posts.
- Incorporate both images/icons and text if you're making an infographic and don't put too many words on one post/page or people won't read it
- The captions also shouldn't be too long, and the important things should go first because most people won't read all of a long caption
- Get inspiration from your favorite Instagram pages (other organizations, accounts, etc) when you're creating posts- When using Canva, look at different templates that Canva already has. It's a great way to get inspiration and save some time
Design for young Instagram users
Instagram has over 500 million daily active users who tend to be younger. DemLabs teamed with Students for Justice (SFJ) on a pilot program to create Instagram memes that were culturally appropriate. Chisato and Chloe, two SFJ interns were able to quickly design memes on the American Jobs Plan, the American Rescue Plan, COVID-19 vaccine disinformation, and gun violence prevention. They used Canva’s wide range of icons (known as “Elements”) to quickly create effective Instagram galleries. These designs were uploaded to the DemLabs Instagram account where they have:
- Grown from 0 to 61 followers in two months.
- Increased our content interactions by 32% in the last 30 days (compared to Feb 18- March 19)
- There has been a 60% increase in reach with the posts
- There have been 616 impressions since the Instagram account was created
Students for Justice (SFJ) is a paid internship program that was developed in 2020 to engage college students in the struggle to fight systemic voter suppression in the United States and to get out the vote. While it was created in response to the twin challenges of a pandemic and a national election, SFJ has developed a model that continues to be powerfully relevant. SFJ brings young people, many of them first-generation college students, together from all around the country in a virtual program, offering them a meaningful, educational, paid work experience. A special shout out to the SFJ on this project:
Chisato Kimura is a junior at Mount Holyoke College double majoring in International Relations and Economics, with a focus on social justice and human rights. She is so excited for the opportunity to bring progressive movements and organizations.
Chloe Bollinger is a junior at Northwestern University majoring in Neuroscience with a Concentration in Computation and Systems Modeling. She is passionate about the intersection of technology, civics, and social justice.
Expand your online presence through your volunteers
"Relational organizing focuses on the most important tools at our disposal: our relationships and our ability to talk with one another about things that matter." - Kara Waite, Harper's Bazaar.
Most grassroots groups have a small presence on social media, but they do have volunteers and supporters. Harness them to amplify messages on social media in a coordinated manner by posting your memes to their social media pages. Social media platforms are programmed to boost content that is trending. Having multiple posts from your supporters in a short period of time with the same hashtag gets their attention - getting your content more exposure for free. Learn more about VoteForce, a free app for progressive groups to share content on social media through relational organizing. Learn more about this approach here.
TakeAway: Use volunteer-powered posting on social media for advocacy.
Make social media GIFs and memes part of your communications.
Use GIFs from Into Action or create your own with the free CANVA app.
Have your supporters post your memes to to social media with VoteForce.