Peace in the Digital Age

by Alex, AsylumConnect Secretary

On November 17, the Millennium Campus Network hosted a webinar with AsylumConnect on Peace in the Digital Age. I am the Secretary for the AsylumConnect team, which is a part of the Millennium Campus Network’s Peace Campaign. We had two fantastic speakers for the webinar, both of whom are attuned to social media.

    First, Mackenzie Thomas spoke to us about getting people engaged to your cause online. Thomas is an Associate Product Manager in Search and Civics at Google. She advised to make media content easily “digest-able” and easily “share-able.” She discussed knowing and focusing on who your target user is. Make sure there is a clear call to action so that people know what your campaign is specifically setting out to accomplish. She also suggested updating users throughout your campaign to keep them engaged by highlighting success stories. When asked about how much social media to use for a campaign, she discussed focusing on 1 or 2 platforms, and to not post the same content to each.

Next, Cheryl Contee talked about her work as the co-founder and CEO of Fission Strategy. Fission Strategy is a company that helps non-profit companies use the internet in more innovative ways. An audience member asked how can we use technology to leverage our message. Contee responded that we should research our target audience. “Usually there is an existing audience who shares those values.” Find out who the leaders of that audience are and what hashtags and key words they use. Another person asked how to get people involved and committed with a campaign. Contee said, “Bring awareness to new people and treat people like people. Sometimes non-profits, though they don’t mean to, treat people as a means to an end. Have people create the campaign with you. Educate them and then get them involved as heroes in your narrative. Rather than being a faceless name on a petition, have them help you create.” A third person asked how a campaign can stay relevant after the initial kickoff. Contee answered, “Behind every share or comment or like is a human. In that moment they are expressing themselves in a meaningful way. You should respect that and thank them and let them know the results of your campaign over time. Let them know they’ve helped and continue that narrative arc.”

Behind every share or comment or like is a human. In that moment they are expressing themselves in a meaningful way.

Finally, Katie Sgarro, a co-founder of AsylumConnect, spoke about what our organization is working on. AsylumConnect is a volunteer initiative that will seek to provide LGBTQ asylum seekers in the U.S. with lifesaving online informational resources. We are working towards creating the first website and mobile app to feature an online, centralized database of service providers useful to LGBTQ asylum seekers in the U.S. The AsylumConnect catalog will help persecuted LGBTQ people find basic human needs resources upon their arrival in the U.S. It is estimated that our work will benefit 300,000 LGBT asylum seekers. We are currently working on a model of the catalog focused on services in Seattle, Washington.

Katie led a great discussion on what separates slacktivism from meaningful social change. Slacktivism is defined as “actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement, e.g., signing an online petition or joining a campaign group on a social media website.” Some of the audience thought that the flag filter on Facebook in light of the Paris terror attacks was an example of slacktivism. Also considered was Peacefactory, a campaign to make peace viral. Their slogan is “wear it, spread it.” They connect people on social media and sell peace merchandise.

Stay tuned for the next MCN webinar by AsylumConnect and visit to learn more about us.

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