How to be an Advocate
From Greta Thunberg to Thandiwe Abdullah, to the survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, young advocates have shown us the power of a voice and the mountains that social media can move. And while the recent 2020 election called attention to the power that elected officials hold, it’s now more important than ever to highlight the effect that personal advocacy can have on the issues that affect our lives.
Advocacy is basically just public support for a cause or policy, but it can have a tremendous impact. Anyone can be an advocate—you just need to equip yourself with the right tools. Follow these steps to become a successful advocate:
Find a cause you care about
The first step in becoming an advocate is choosing an issue, or range of issues, that you are passionate about. Some of the most impactful advocacy comes from a personal connection to the subject. Whether your calling is birth control access, climate change, or anything else that excites you, finding a topic that lights your fire will make your journey to being an advocate a rewarding and motivating process. If you’re struggling to connect with a subject, you should research your current interests further to see what types movements and advocacy areas exist.
Do your research
As an advocate, you’ll want to spread your message as widely as possible! But in order to be a successful advocate, you’ll need to do research. Most importantly, you should always make sure that you’re using trusted and reliable resources, especially if you’re finding information online. While your advocacy can be driven by emotions, it’s essential that your messaging is based in facts. Researching your issue will not only fill you in on the intricacies of the problem, but it will also help you to understand what people have already done and what action is currently happening. Every issue has its history, and it’s important that you take the time to understand it.
Find your platform
Thanks to modern technology, your advocacy can be hosted on a variety of channels. Depending on your skills and interests, you can utilize various social media platforms to amplify your message. For videos, check out YouTube and TikTok. If words are more your style, consider making a dedicated Twitter account or starting a blog on a free site like Tumblr or WordPress. Instagram is designed for community building and is useful for helping your audiences feel like they know you. Artists can also showcase their work like a portfolio! Apart from social media, your advocacy should also include an in-person component, such as safely protesting or a more direct solicitation, such as reaching out to your elected officials.
The key to finding the right platform is meeting your audience where they are. For example, there’s been a recent trend of doctors and other medical providers posting sex education videos on TikTok and birth control education videos on YouTube. By showing up on the apps that young people are already using, they’ve been able to amass large followings and therefore have a huge impact!
Find your community
No matter your cause, you are not alone in your advocacy! Whether it’s online or in person, finding a community of like-minded people with similar goals will not only help to spread your message, but help to guide you along the way. Don’t be afraid to reach out to advocates who are doing similar work or to show up to an event alone. If you’re practicing digital advocacy, there are niche communities on every platform that you can research and join. If you’re planning to do more on-the-ground work, it’s helpful to research local volunteer organizations that host events or offer opportunities to gather in-person. There is strength in numbers!
Use your voice
Once you’ve established your cause, platform, and community, you’re ready to start spreading your message. Your voice is the most important piece to becoming an advocate. Whether it’s joining in on your first Twitter Storm or attending your first protest, taking the initiative to support change makes you an advocate. And once you’ve started, don’t give up. Your advocacy is not only necessary, but your voice is critical to the conversation!
If you need some inspiration, check out last week’s Thanks, Birth Control campaign. From the halls of Congress to your best friend’s Instagram Story, we made our voices heard! We saw advocates from all walks of life talk about why they love their birth control and why everybody deserves access. Get your hands on one of our #ThxBirthControl masks and join us.