According to the numerous social media events which happen across the UK each year, you could be mistaken to believe that social media is purely a consumer PR tool. Just as social media rocked the PR industry from 2006; the 200+ year old lobbying profession has also evolved – reinforced by digital strategy. The sad thing is, mainstream social media events rarely feature digital public affairs campaigns. Instead they are all about fizzy drinks, fluffy cats or QR codes on cakes.
Just as lobbying has moved away from the Willard Hotel in Washington, Tammany Hall in new York and the Central lobby of the Palace of Westminster grassroots engagement has risen in importance.
In many ways lobbyists have been trained over the last couple of centuries to be the perfect social media commentators. It is an industry famous for the need to analyse in-depth documents and then communicate clearly. Not just to play an active part in a debate but to inform the necessary people what their next move should be. To this very day, one of the biggest challenges affecting the whole communications industry is clarity and transparency. When it comes to politics these two areas are critical.
So Social Lobbying is introduced to the fold, a term used to describe how social media can be used as part of the engine behind lobbying campaigns. This is much much more than yet another piece of meaningless ‘social media guru’ jargon. Social lobbying allows people to:
- Use social media sites to capture public sentiment, opinion and start discussions with wider groups of activists, NGOs and find other individuals who might be allies.
- Easily communicate with constituents, putting everyone on a level playing field and inviting grassroots campaigns to unfold.
Gone are the days when lobbying could be seen as a suspicious profession, reliant on secret meetings and smoky hideaways. We now live in an age of radical transparency, where information is shared freely online and the details lie bare for all to see. Social lobbying allows us access to big data which allows us to listen to how lots of people are thinking. This will form a more effective strategy and in turn will generate a richer discourse. Of course social media is far from a magic bullet but can you afford to miss out on the debate?