Social media and the PACT (part 2)

Heloisa Righetto writes about aligning the four pillars of the PACT with social media 

If you missed part 1, click here to read it.

The Civil Society Futures report tells us is all about building up relationships when it comes to connections, the C in the PACT. And although social media plays a huge part in improving connections, I do believe that it is also a tool that should be approached in a holistic PACT way.

  • Power: as ‘imbalances in power are often at the heart of the issue’, use your social media platforms to support people to find and express their power. This may sound elusive, as handing down power is something we are trying to figure out how to do. But on social media, handing down power might be more tangible and therefore a catalyst for a transformation IRL. Some examples include taking part in collaborative campaigns, asking what is the best way to use your influence to support other causes/campaigns, or inviting members of staff/volunteers/beneficiaries to take over your profile and share their views on a special topic or campaign.
  • Accountability: ‘There is a lack of collective accountability in our systems, and cultures of silence have persisted.’ If you need one reason to be on social media, let accountability be it. Putting yourself out there and speaking on behalf of your organisation shows that you are willing to be held to account (but again, only if you use social media beyond the ‘echo chamber’). Accountability is a key reason not to approach social media in your free time but as part of your day job, as mentioned before. Take proper time to do it, to respond, to ask, to share, to congratulate, and to generate debate. Interacting with beneficiaries, for instance, is holding yourself accountable, is acknowledging that you are the face of your organisation.
  • Connection: when Laura Bates put together a simple website in 2012 to encourage women to come forward and share their experiences of harassment and abuse, she had no idea that the Everyday Sexism Project would become one of the icons of contemporary feminism in Britain and worldwide. She wasn’t expecting hundreds of thousands of contributions simply because when she approached friends, family and colleagues and inquired about sexism, she was told that sexism wasn’t a thing anymore, that women were more or less equal to men. Her digital platform made women from all over the world connect with each other, made them feel less alone and confirmed what Laura suggested: women are silenced and led to think that being harassed in just part of being a woman. The Everyday Sexism project confirms that connections are vital and intrinsically linked with IRL connections. That ‘clicktivism’ cannot be delegitimised and that we need to shift our way of thinking from ‘online excludes’ to ‘online aggregates’, as Becca Bunce explains. In conclusion, do not dismiss digital presence – we need to move beyond ‘I don’t like social media’ and make our digital presence a valid one.
  • Trust: according to the Civil Society Futures report, ‘trust is the most important asset we have as civil society’. However, ‘trust is too often seen narrowly or undervalued’. It’s not a coincidence that trust comes last in the PACT, as it is a combination of the three previous concepts. Staying true to our values, defending rights and calling out injustice, prioritising building trust with our communities, are all things that can be done also on social media and encompass the practical steps suggested above. To hand down power is to put trust in other people, to accept accountability is to stay true to your values, to improve connections is to build trust.

If you have any thoughts or suggestions of best social media practice alongside the PACT values, or if you’d like to read more about using social media, please leave your comments below.

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