Social Media: The Greatest Tool In An Animal Advocate's Arsenal

John Oberg

First Published on: 

A vegan fast food chain is expanding globally. Beyond Meat is going public. Massive demand for vegan food is revolutionizing supermarkets. Who do you have to thank for this massive shift in public sentiment and behavior? Yourself.

Social media has shifted the landscape in this new technological era of constant connection. On Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube, in a blink-of-an-eye you're exposed to content from an array of sources posted anywhere around the globe. This incredible connection to the rapidly changing world has never been so streamlined. The results? Ideas about plant-based food, knowledge about factory farming, and encouraging messages from individuals and organizations about how to change the world are being exchanged at a rate like we've never seen before.

Each week, literally hundreds of millions of people around the globe are exposed to content that they never otherwise would see if not for social media. Because people like you are sharing this important content across platforms, massive numbers of individuals are choosing vegan.

In this multi-part series that I’ll be writing on animal advocacy through social media, I'll be turning you into the strongest animal advocate you can be. While social media is certainly important, it's not the be-all end-all strategy to animal liberation. It’s still important to have boots on the ground to show that this is a cause worth fighting for. When your boots aren't on the ground, social media is an incredible tool to have in your toolshed.

Time for action sign
These tips will help you improve your advocacy (Photo: Adobe. Do not use without permission)

So, what actions can you take for animals on social media that are going to be the wisest use of your time? Well, there is quite the plethora of options for ways to make the biggest impact.

Here’s a brief starting point:

Follow already-established pages, like Plant Based News or The Humane League and share their content directly to your pages.

● Join social media advocacy groups like The Humane League’s Fast Action Network and take simple actions daily or weekly that help win major victories for animals, such as ending cruel caged confinement or some of the other worst factory farming practices.

● Talk about the advocacy you're involved in. Whether it’s leafleting, attending slaughterhouse vigils, or vegan food sampling, tell those you're connected with about the actions you’re involved in.

● Post about the amazing vegan food you're eating. Much of society has the odd feeling that vegans eat nothing but raw tofu, granola, and the occasional scoop of hummus. Prove them wrong with the Beyond Meat burgers, Oumph! plant-based meat, or Violife cheese you might be eating for dinner tonight.

● Hold individuals, organizations, and companies accountable for their actions that affect animals. Social media allows a direct line of communication between consumer and institution. Take advantage of that. Applaud when appropriate; raise your voice when you need to.

● Use humor. Memes are the language of the internet - speak that language in your advocacy for animals. It’s how many people let their guard down.

● Tell your origin story. Let your audience know how you came to be the activist you are today.

● Volunteer or intern on the social media team with your favorite animal protection organization or activist. There’s endless work that can be done here for animals!

Before you throw on your animal-saving superhero cape and get to the retweeting, sharing, and advocating, remember this: there will always be opportunity costs. When you choose to do one thing, you’re choosing not to do another. Use your limited time and resources to do what will achieve the most amount of good for animals. They’re depending on you.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. As we get rolling in this series on how to best advocate for animals on social media, I'll begin to touch on how to effectively communicate on the animals' behalf. Watch for more soon!

John Oberg

John Oberg is an animal protection advocate who specializes in social media.

He is the Director of New Media for the international animal protection organization, The Humane League. John previously served as Director of Communications for Vegan Outreach.

John oversees the social media presence across The Humane League, which includes Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Reddit. These platforms are used as tools to reach millions of individuals with the plight of today's farmed animals.

In three years, John has increased The Humane League's Facebook and Instagram following tenfold, and in his 5+ years overseeing social media, content on pages that he has managed has been seen over one billion times on Facebook alone.

Join the Conversation