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Get Online Week - Digital Campaigning

Published on 16 October 2023 03:42 PM

When we think about digital exclusion, we might think about barriers to essential services. Rightly so – the growing neglect of offline alternatives has a severe impact on many older people’s ability to get help with their council tax, or even use public transport.

A less spoken about aspect of digital exclusion can be seen in the campaigning world, where the prevalence of online tools can leave some aspiring campaigners unsure of where to begin. With the support of the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, Age UK London delivered a series of workshops aimed at upskilling older Londoners when it comes to digital campaigning. 

Digital tools present vast and ever-growing opportunities to the world of campaigning, but we wanted to focus on two core areas – using social media to grow your campaign’s presence and engaging with your representatives online.  

Communications Officer Dee Byrne delivered a hands-on workshop, guiding us through the various ‘dos and don’ts' of social media. Dee ran through the essentials, as well as the more applied techniques of building an online presence, showcasing how Age UK London put these to use in our own social media activity.

Mapping out relevant organisations and individuals, tailoring the tone of your posts to specific platforms, and crafting eye-catching content were just three of the practises that attendees were encouraged to try out for themselves. Summing up the lessons learnt, Dee was keen to remind us that social media is a conversation more than anything else, and that polite engagement with our digital peers was just as important as posting regularly. 

Turning our attention to effecting change more directly, Campaigns Manager John McGeachy explored how digital tools can help us engage with our representatives at the local and regional level. John broke down the many mechanisms we can use to make our voices heard; connecting us to our representatives, local government directories informing us of our councillors’ roles and responsibilities, and local council websites offering updates on council proceedings, to name a few.

Focusing on the London level, attendees explored the Greater London Authority’s website, learning how to stay up to date with the work of the London Assembly. These online resources can be incredibly powerful, if you know how to navigate them.  

Crucially, it was important that these tools were presented as precisely that – tools. They offer exciting opportunities to those who want to grow their campaign’s reach, but are by no means replacing ‘analogue’ forms of campaigning altogether.

Although growing your social network can be made easier with modern tech, this shouldn’t discourage campaigners who are more comfortable with traditional forms of influencing. Without question, there is still room – even necessity – for face-to-face contact and in-person demonstration. But the decision to not use these digital tools should be a matter of preference, not a choice made for you. 

To that end, we were delighted to hear the positive feedback that attendees offered. One aspiring campaigner told us they felt “motivated to continue exploring and learning with social media”, and were confident it would “open up avenues of information, discussion, ideas and activities.”. 

To learn how digital tools can help maximise the reach of your campaigns, check out our website. 

Dom Taylor is Campaigns Support Officer at Age UK London