Articles | Social Media | Using Social Media to Sway Voters and Prevent Genocide (Case Study)

Using Social Media to Sway Voters and Prevent Genocide (Case Study)

These case studies cover nonprofit use of a host of new communications tools, most of which fall under the ‘social networking’ umbrella. Because these are new tools, and most of us don’t have a lot of time or money to experiment in depth, case studies are more important than ever. Look for more to come in the course of the next few months.

DeadElephant.ORG – Fall 2006

Tool: MySpace

Goal: To distribute 500,000 downloadable bumper-strips in the two weeks pre-election

MySpace works well to generate traffic for the right campaign – which has to be a viral campaign, extremely easy to pass along.

“After several weeks of deep immersion in the MySpace activism community, we can tell you flatly that MySpace wasn’t anything like what we expected. We encountered almost no young teens, and the commitment to progressive causes was palpable and impressive.

“12,000 visitors came to the DeadElephant.ORG campaign from MySpace in the last two weeks pre-election. And that figure doesn’t include the friends they sent to the campaign who did enter directly from a MySpace page.

“This blows away Google Adwords, The Huffington Post’s ‘Contagious Festival’, Care2, and Democratic Underground for generating traffic. If quantity matters, and if your action is suitably viral in nature, take it to MySpace.”
– Jeff Goldsmith, Care2

The Genocide Intervention Network – Ongoing

Tools: MySpace, YouTube, FaceBook, Flickr

Goal: To spur and direct anti-genocide learning, advocacy, and giving.

“In less than two years, The Genocide Intervention Network transformed itself from a small student group to a national nonprofit organization. How did they do it? Among other methods, they used social media sites like MySpace, FaceBook, Flickr, and YouTube to build a core of supporters, and reach them on a regular basis.

“So how do we do it? We rely primarily on Facebook and MySpace and began by setting up a group profile in both tools, which is a fairly straightforward process. The profiles are our platform for publishing the latest news from our organization and links to current campaigns.

“In addition, we use Facebook’s messaging service, and MySpace’s blog and bulletin features, to adapt our action alerts into slightly shorter, punchier versions that are then seen by our “friends” in these social networks.

“GI-Net has, to a lesser extent, used both images and video to spread our message. We have a paid Flickr account on which we post images from Darfur-related events. Our members who have Flickr can post images in their own accounts and use the tag “antigenocide,” to have them show up in a photo stream of the latest images from the anti-genocide movement. Our newest website,, features this photo stream on the home page.

“Because GI-Net has such a small staff, it has been difficult to fully realize the potential of many aspects of social networking. One small step we took, however, has been pretty successful. We spent a couple of days creating a short video on Darfur using the Apple iMovie software. We posted the video to YouTube and linked to it from our Web site, and MySpace and Facebook profiles.

“It’s hard to measure the direct effect of the video, but soon after we posted it on our MySpace account we started getting 20 or more friend requests each day. That’s probably because we made it easy for people to cut-and-paste the code for the video into their own profiles and emails, enabling the word to spread.”
– Ivan Boothe, Director of Communications
Genocide Intervention Network

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