Our group is planning to examine how online media campaigns tend to encourage superficial commitment to a cause, rather than lasting participation, as a result of how they are structured. We will explore these structural deficiencies through analysis of popular Internet campaigns and by highlighting specific areas of improvement or shortfalls in their execution. Some campaigns include the Kony campaign and the Occupy movement, and topics that will be explored are clicktivism, lack of measurable goals, and shortages in strong leadership, among many. Accompanying these analyses, we will also suggest potential solutions to these limitations and discuss the methods available for their implementation. As a parallel to the analyses of campaigns with shortcomings, we will also draw from relevant online media movements which exemplify these best practices. In summary and as a cohesive element for this project, we also plan to focus on a particular currently trending movement, apply our solutions to their case, and underscore how these improvements can complement what the campaign is already doing well.
Beginning in September 2011, the Occupy Wall Street movement arose in protest of the huge divide in economic equality stemming from a hierarchical structure guided by the interest of large corporations. The catchphrase adopted by the movement, “We are the 99%,” reveals the extent of imbalance where wealth in the United States is concentrated in the top 1% of earners. Protesters gathered in nearly every major city around the county (as well as having a global presence) to establish a peaceful, but physical presence in opposition to the systemic injustices which many believed led to the financial crisis in 2008. The Occupy movement was a highly relatable cause with a significant media presence which inspired an impressive flurry of protest action and news coverage over the following months. However, reflection in the aftermath of the movement revealed areas of the campaign which could have been improved and a questioning as to the permanence of the impact. The media campaign slogan (We are the 99%) encouraged solidarity of the masses and tapped into the outrage many felt over the economic situation, however a lack of clearly defined goals was a major limitation of the staying power the discussion had. Arguably, progress is more difficult to make when there is no clear avenue with which to evaluate the successes of an effort. While passion for a cause is an important aspect of any campaign, measurable goals are critical to ensuring long-lasting focus and attention on specific issues. Another limitation of the Occupy movement was the lack of defined leadership stemming from an overarching concern of trying to maintain space for already existing activist groups and political affiliations. The campaigns’ emphasis on democracy and grassroots movement, while an important message for the cause, limited its effectiveness as few individuals stepped into leadership roles necessary for long-term survival. In these ways the Occupy movement embodied more of a trending cause, rather than a sustainable effort with the ability to influence structural changes.