Engagement- The Key to the Success of a Digital Media Social Justice Campaign…but how do we make it happen?

Each social awareness/change/justice cause has a message. It is how you get your message out there, build your audience and make it grow that we all want to know.

Digital Storytelling is a powerful tool for inspiring action and change and influencing thought leaders, funders, and decision makers.


Creating a great digital video has become an essential part of building an audience and participation for your cause.
If you are just beginning your Digital Storytelling journey, you can read my blog post: Digital Storytelling for Social Awareness

Here are a few things to keep in mind in order to build engagement for your digital story:

1) The first key to a successful digital storytelling campaign is to TELL A GREAT STORY! This seems pretty obvious but you would be surprised at how difficult it can be to get the true heart of your story imagined, written, filmed, edited and completed. Make sure your story is about someone or something that will cause people to feel. Consider a specific story, person, animal or project that your cause is involved with and make it memorable. The more detailed and focused your story, the more engaging it will be.


action2) Developing a CALL-TO-ACTION is critical. Your campaign should motivate your audience to participate. Clearly communicate exactly how a person can contribute, both in the video and in supporting material. Emphasize how an individual’s contribution can make a tangible difference.
Studies reveal that people are more likely to contribute to a cause when they perceive their involvement will make a clear and substantial difference. (Rather than creating a vague message associated with a broad goal, spell out your call-to-action plainly. Inform your audience how their action will result in real change.
For example: a call-to-action message such as “Your generous gift will support a family in our shelter” will be much more effective than “Help us combat inner city homelessness.” Although the concept of ending homelessness might sound more impressive than providing temporary shelter, it’s less compelling. Focusing on the larger issue is likely to decrease your audience’s motivation. “Why should I help? It’s only a drop in the bucket!” The abstract problem makes a contribution seem negligible. In short, focus on people, not concepts(Cryder & Loewnstein).

3) DISTRIBUTION: One important thought on creating digital video for distribution on social media is -consider length. When was the last time you sat through a 5 minute video on Facebook or Twitter? It would be rare to find anyone who will stay focused longer then 2 minutes to hear what you have to say. More importantly, if the video is too long and you wait until the end to add your call to action, you will never reap the benefits of your great digital story. So, when considering the use of social media and mobile in your distribution plans, keep the video under two minutes and consider placing your call to action as soon as the story will allow.

Now that you have your video set, you are ready to begin engaging with the audience.

engageENGAGING with your audience is all about knowing how to work your social media. You need to have a plan. Your cause needs to have its own brand, social media pages and website. If you have all of this it is now a matter of setting up your plan. There are many free products out there that will help you manage this. I use Hootsuite.com This is a free social media management tool that allows you to plan your uploads on a weekly basis for the greatest impact and engagement.

If this is all new to you start by reading this blog post: 10 Steps to Begin Creating Your Personal Brand. This post will help you get started on branding but it also contains links for setting up your website, bitly and social media plan.

Now, your social media plan is only as good as your social media connections. So, before you begin sending out your Digital Story for engagement, you want to make sure that you have a community built up on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and whatever other social media you use. This can be done by spending time connecting by searching your subject area on each sight and requesting connections from those who are already part of your world.

Also, another way to create engagement is through blogging. Starting a blog about your cause will allow you to build your voice. But also, getting involved in other blogs in your field by commenting with a link to your digital story is a great way to create engagement. If you are interested in starting a blog, check out this post: Blogging

My hope for this post is to share things I am learning in how to build engagement for important social justice causes. I am open to ideas and suggestions that will add value to this post.
Please consider getting involved to build on this information. We can help each other to create engagement for important causes in our world.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and hope to hear from you soon.

If you would like to see other posts on this subject please see my blog or visit my website.


Cryder,Loewnstein (2009) The Critical Link Between Tangibility and Generosity. Paper presented at the Society for Consumer Psychology, San Diego, CA.

Genaske, J. (2014) Digital Storytelling for Social Impact. Retrieved from: https://www.rockefellerfoundation.org/blog/digital-storytelling-social-impact/

Positive/Solutions-based Storytelling for Social Awareness

Journalists make careers out of covering the symptoms and causes of bad things that happen.  Usually looking at the negative aspects of the story.

With Solutions-based storytelling, instead of identifying the worst of subjects and why they are failing, it sets out to find the story where things are working, or improving despite poverty, crime, and other challenges. It also looks at the systems that created the problem and what might be done about it.

Solutions Journalism Network

David Bornstein, co-founder of the Solutions Journalism Network cites three trends that illustrate why solutions journalism has come of age:

  • the proliferation of businesses, nonprofits, and other institutions alleviating social ills
  • the explosion of online information that allows people tired of negative news to avoid the mainstream media
  • journalists’ desire to cover positive social change and reach more readers.

solutions“We need new and better recipes. For society and also for journalism to thrive, it needs to be regularly highlighting with rigor new ideas and models that are showing results against our most pressing problems.”  Bornstein


These are not feel-good stories.  The Network began from serious concerns about the future of news.

Hardcore investigative reporting is still central to journalism’s role as a watchdog. The Network does not intend to ignore the problems facing the world, but instead to showcase the successes in tackling those problems to jump start conversations.

This is not good news for good news’ sake. Stories have to pass a threshold to qualify as solutions journalism.

At a minimum, they need to identify:

  • Social ills and potential remedies to them
  • They need to include the voices of people who have seen those remedies at the ground level
  • They must include evidence about whether the remedies work, and report any caveats or limitations associated with them
  • Journalists must obtain data that shows how a solution is working. Data inoculates reporters against charges they’re giving favorable coverage to a group because of its political affiliation.

Peace Journalism

Other organizations have attempted this, such as Peace Journalism-A group of scholars and journalists emerged in the 1960s and 1970s to challenge the conventions of news construction, and its reliance on negative references and conflict as a news value. Sociologist Johan Galtung, the driving force behind the movement, advocated for the practice of “peace journalism,” as opposed to the status quo that he called “war journalism.”peace


Solutions-based Storytelling for Social Awareness

Maybe there is a happy medium here.

Can journalists legitimately give readers stories that are not only positive and solution based but also give them something constructive to do?

Dan Heimpel, talking of Solutions-based Journalism for Social Change says, you will never be effective if you do not have a compendium of information to draw from and a niche specialty. Journalists should be diving deeper and paint, not only problems, but solutions and not only solutions but also ask, what are the institutional barriers to getting those solutions accomplished?  The journalist must stay fair and balanced but also must have balance in the solutions.

Where Solutions Journalism gets a bit fuzzy is when the journalist urge readers to act, one way or another.  Might Journalists compromise their objectivity if approaching a story with the goal of proving that a specific solution is valid?

Is it the word Journalist that is getting in the way?  Could we just be Ethical Storytellers?

According to Heimpel, the vision, that you could be an advocate, might put you at a disadvantage in conveying information, but what it really does is it raises the burden of the journalists fact finding responsibilities to be sure that all points are aired.  And in turn, raises the bar.

A recent survey done by the Engage News Project at the University of Texas reveled that readers of solutions stories were more likely to  say that they felt inspired and wanted to learn more about the subject.  Those readers also said that they were more likely to share these types of stories on social media.

One organization that is doing this is Images and Voices of Hope.  IVOH believe that media ivohcan create meaningful, positive change in the world. Their global community includes journalists, documentary filmmakers, photographers, social media specialists, gamers and more. IVOH’s common thread as a nonprofit is the desire to effect positive change through their work in media. IVOH is championing a storytelling genre it calls “Restorative Narratives,” which show “how people and communities are learning to rebuild and recover in the aftermath, or midst of, difficult times.”

For Social Awareness Storytellers:

Consider these approaches:

  • Interview a wide range of stakeholders, including the people enacting the solution, those directly affected, detractors, funders, academics and more.
  • Look into what institutional barriers might be out there.
  • Look into all sides of the problem and solution
  • How does a small organization create change?
  • What are the slow, systematic steps they took?
  • What are the teachable lessons?
  • In what ways is the cause succeeding, and in what ways is it failing?
  • Dig deep

Social change is complex. Your storytelling should reflect that complexity.




In Numbers Too Big to Ignore: Our Legacy of Peaceful Protest

As the march draws near…a bit of history.

Each Others shoulders

Demonstration against G8 Summit in Le Havre

“I am WOMAN hear me Roar, in numbers too big to ignore”

Helen Reddy

As we inch our way closer to the Women’s March on Washington, I thought it would be fitting to look at how your bodies and voices will make a difference.  Peaceful protest is, not only, our right as Americans but, it is how our voices are heard, understood, respected and how change is made.

Protected by the First Amendment and upheld over time as a cornerstone of our free society, the rights to assemble, protest, and petition continue to attract those who see injustice and upset those who do not understand.


Although there have been many amazing world protests such as Tienanmen Square, Gandhi’s Salt March and the Berlin Wall Protests, this post will look at some of America’s peaceful protests and their message.

Our history includes the civil rights movement, the student movement, the anti-Vietnam…

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Technology and Social Change

Please share your work….

One Small Way

We are blessed to live in a time where technology is creating ways for us to communicate effortlessly.  Without thinking, we use it everyday.  Now it is time to think.  It is time to create new and informative ways of communicating, through technology to create a better world.

Using the technological resources we have at our fingertips to help shed light on a social cause is the best way to communicate for good.

Technology and Social Awareness work hand in hand to create a conversation to develop civic engagement and interaction so that we can bring about Social Change.

Please join me in spreading the word that we are looking for voices.  You can help by sharing your work to this site:  http://bit.ly/onesmallway

Your story should tell how you use media, communications or technology to help your community and create social awareness about a cause.

These stories can be written, video…

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Digital Storytelling for Social Awareness


by Dr. Susan Cardillo

Research suggests that as many as 56 percent of online supporters report compelling storytelling as a motivation to take action on behalf of social causes.

A new study from the Rockefeller Foundation shows what nonprofits need to harness the power of narrative and networks to enhance their reach, resources, and impact.

The best stories are those we tell again and again. For social causes, this means crafting inspiring, shareable tales that audiences will eagerly pass on.

Stories or narratives have been shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation and instilling moral values.

While the essence of the stories we tell may remain the same, the ways in which we can now share these stories have changed dramatically with the development of digital communication technologies. Access to simple, easy to use media production tools and resources in conjunction with the potential for immediate and universal online publication has significant implications for literacy thinking and practice.

Digital Storytelling is a powerful tool for inspiring action and change and influencing thought leaders, funders, and decision makers.

Digital storytelling takes the art of oral storytelling and engages a palette of technical tools to weave narratives using images, graphics, video, music and sounds mixed together, using a voice narration.

Digital Storytelling can help social causes share tales of donor heroics, showcase the lasting positive impacts of their work, or simply express gratitude to donors and volunteers.

The Art and Craft:

My job/passion is to teach digital storytelling.  Making a digital story involves creative and critical thinking, inquiry, writing, discussion, design, production, reflection and presentation. It provides opportunities for students to enhance the expression of their own or others stories, thoughts and ideas in creative and engaging ways, across a diverse range of learning contexts.


  • Multimodal Literacy refers to meaning-making that occurs through the reading, viewing, understanding, responding to and producing and interacting with multimedia and digital texts. Multimodal is defined as the strategic use of ‘two or more communication modes’ to make meaning,  for example image, gesture, music, spoken language, and written language.
  • Multimodal productions require media resources. It is not OK for anyone to copy material – print, images, audio, film from the Internet, just because it is easy to do so. Artistic and literary works, films and music are legally protected by copyright. Your own creative work is also protected by the same rights.

The student has two choices:

  • Create their own media
  • Ethically sourcing media from sites such as:



Video: I use Videoblocks


Digital storytelling is becoming increasingly popular for social causes, educators, artists, journalists and Vloggers alike.

It is important to remember that this is still a STORY and no matter how many “bells and whistles” you add, the story must be told well to connect with the audience.

Here are some things to remember about telling a good story and creating media around it:


  • Write efficiently
  • Write Clearly
  • Simplicity
  • Accuracy
  • Know your purpose and audience
  • Be fair and balanced

Digital Storytelling:

1.Have an idea and

  • a strong emotional component
  • a purpose: instructional, persuasive, historical, or reflective
  • Look for inspiration. Digital storytelling is about passion, you must care about your story in order for others to care.  Develop stories that will inspire your audience.  Listening to other stories will help you learn what your audience identifies with.  Example: Storycorp.

2.Research, explore and learn

  • Search out ideas
  • Media resources for storytelling: Still Images, Audio, Video

3.Start writing- storyteller has enormous creative latitude

  • Remember to start with your Inverted pyramid: begin with Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. Give your audience the information they need to want to continue watching or listening. But there is more to digital storytelling than this, look at the Digital Media Pyramid below and so how it differs from the old fashioned idea of the inverted pyramid.


  • Constructing a narrative and communicating it effectively require the storyteller to think carefully about the topic and consider the audience’s perspective
  • Write-Edit-Repeat


  • Decide which images and video you will create
  • Decide which images and video you will repurpose
  • Set up the video and images with the audio script


  • Video
  • Images
  • Audio – both music and narration

6.Put together

  1. Use editing software to combine your work
  • Editing
  • Sound effects,Music
  • Titles and credits
  • the Final Cut

7.Share, Interaction and social media plan

  • Think transmedia– where the story is told using ‘multiple delivery channels’ through a combination of media platforms, all working as part of the same story. Jenkins argues that transmedia is more than just multiple media platforms, it is about the logical relations between these media extensions which seek to add something to the story as it moves from one medium to another, not just adaptation or retelling. Transmedia enables the further development of the story world through each new medium (H.Jenkin 2013)
  • Youtube
  • Website
  • Social Media

8. Monitor feedback, respond, use analytics to collect data and reflect


Idea places:

Digital Awareness Campaigns: https://act.everyaction.com/best-nonprofit-digital-campaigns/awareness/languagematters

The Power of Non-Profit Storytelling: http://www.pamelagrow.com/tag/power-of-nonprofit-storytelling/



Everaction (n.d.) Essential Elements of Digital Storytelling for Nonprofits. Retrieved from: https://act.everyaction.com/digital-storytelling

Jenkins, H., Ford, S., & Green, J. (2013). Spreadable media. Creating Value.

Roland, C. (2006). Digital stories in the classroom. School Art,105(7), 26.


10 Steps to Begin Creating Your Personal Brand



Personal Branding- YOU are a brand.

Personal branding is the process of managing and optimizing the way that you are presented to others. 

The goal of building your personal brand is not just to get a better job or to grow your company. It’s about finding happiness with your professional life. The decisions you make while creating your personal brand will lead you down the path to a career that brings you joy and enhances your life.

Understand your personal brand:

It’s time to do some soul searching….

  • Know your values- Your values are the things that drive your life. They are at the core of your being and you refer to them when making decisions. What are the things that make you happy? Example: Family, Friends, Community, Education, Ambition.
  • Know your passions- Your passions are the things that you like doing with your time. A passion is something you would do even if you weren’t being paid. These should be both professional and personal. Example: Technology, Travel, Research, Family
  • Determine aspects of your life that have been really rewarding.
  • Know your outstanding skills
  • Think of what you would like to be doing at the end of your career. Make a backwards list to get to the present


Once you have an idea of your path, it is time to build!

There are all kinds of technologies to help you start building your brand.

This post will discuss ten ways in which you can start to build your personal brand:

1) Do a Google search of you name, see what comes up.   This is what your perspective employer is doing before they ever meet you, so, make sure they see what you want them to see.

2) Create your brand statement and story…. And come up with a great 160 character elevator pitch about myself that I could use on all of my profiles and author bios.

3) Use your Buckets to create content. Listen-Measure-Refine-Repeat

  • Listen to what your followers are saying
  • Measure how much traffic you get on the subject and format
  • Refine things that are not working
  • Repeat things that are

4) Create Audience Personas: to have a good understanding of who you are trying to reach.

      Include things like:

  • Name
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Job Description
  • Hobbies

Go into extreme detail. Talk about the daily tasks the person does at their job. Talk about they do on the weekends with their family and friends. The more details you can include the easier it will be for you to target this person as you implement your personal brand strategy. Go as far as including a photo of the person. If it’s a real person, find their photo. If it’s not a real person, find a photo online that fits your vision and include it in the profile.

5) Build your HUB: Personal website, blog, Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+ and an EMAIL ADDRESS. Others you might add: Youtube, Tumblr

6) BLOG!

Have a Blog Strategy:

  • Address the questions and solve the problems that your community is asking online. Provide insight into current events. Interview industry influencers.
  • If blogging is uncomfortable, consider Podcast or Video content
  • Use content syndication-share out your blog to each of your social media in a timed way(Hootsuite)
  • Set up IFTTT for cross-posting
  • Always link to your website on your blog posts
  • For every blog post you publish, you can create many updates to share on social media. Take one hour out of your week to create snippets to share for the entire week on your social profiles. Then just add: “to read more” and link to your post.
  • Most importantly tell YOUR story!

Remember to Keep the same name, profile, pic, imagery, and look across your social profiles

7) Understand your SEO(Search Engine Optimization) and use it.

8)Follow Analytics

  • If you decide not to buy a website name, you can use bitly.com(gives your website a shorten URL that you can customize) and bitly has their own analytics

9) Know your area’s influencers– These people hold attention and influence the decisions that your number one target audience makes. First, look at the social media profiles of those who fit your Audience Personas.  You’re looking at the people this person is following or connected with.  Connect on social media like LinkedIn and Twitter. It also includes following any blogs the people write or contribute to. Follow the blogs, comment on the articles and make yourself visible to the influencer.

10) Have Social Media Goals– Social Media Tactical Plan

  • SMART goals- Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely
  • Have goals for each social media account
    1. Research shows that these are a good starting point for number of shares, likes or posts per day:
      • Facebook – 2 times per day
      • Twitter – 5 times per day
      • LinkedIn – 1 time per day
      • Google+ – 2 times per day
      • Pinterest – 5 times per day
      • Instagram – 1.5 times per day
  • Assess your current social media use and how it’s working
  • Plan how and which platforms you will revise and work with
  • Join, follow and get involved with influencers. Twitter lists are a good start.
    1. Twitter Lists- Once you have a Twitter account you can go to your settings, choose Lists>Create a List>Begin adding influencers to this list by both following them and then clicking on the Gear symbol next to Follow to add to your list
    2. Make sure your list only includes influencers, the rest of your Twitter can have friends but you need a place where you can learn and get ideas and that will be by scrolling through your list.
  • Track mentions and respond within 24 hours
  1. You can use a service called Mention.com for free on a trial basis and if you want to keep it you will pay $29 per month.
  2. You can use socialmention.com and search for free
  3. Talkwalker.com will email you when you keywords are mentioned
  4. Hootsuite.com will set up all of you social media.
  5. Here are 10 other free monitoring tools: https://www.brandwatch.com/2013/08/top-10-free-social-media-monitoring-tools/


Social Media Style Guide: You will also want to have a guide to keep things clear and common.

  1. Create a list of your social media accounts with links and make them consistent   Information, keywords and style
  2. Use your Audience Persona breakdown when choosing writing style- How do they speak, consume content, and behave on social? Does it differ from platform to platform? Your style guide should clearly define the people you want to reach and influence on social media.
  3. Cross-platform Publishing- Do you ever publish the same post to multiple social platforms? Or do you create specific posts for each one? If you do cross-post, have guidelines. For example: “When publishing a post to more than one platform, ensure that you don’t use any terminology that isn’t applicable to the other platform, such as Retweet or Share. Avoid tagging people in posts that will be published on multiple platforms, since usernames don’t always align from one to the other.”
  4. Hashtags- have a list of relevant hashtags to use in your posts.
  5. Giving Credit- When using someone else’s image, or sharing an article they wrote or discovered, how should you give that person credit? On Twitter, you might decide to use “h/t @username” (with “h/t” meaning “hat tip”) or simply mention that user name at some point in the Tweet. On Instagram, many people use the camera emoji (“ : @username”) to give credit to the  appropriate person. (Hootsuite makes this process really easy, by the way.)
  6. Shorten links-Shortening your links on social will not only free up more room for copy in your posts, it will also give you a measurable way to track the success of your efforts on social. Use bitly.com.
  7. Scheduling- Outline when you would schedule a post instead of publishing it in the moment. Is there a certain timeframe, or does it depend on the type of content being posted? Use. Hootsuite.com.


I hope this guide helps you to begin to create your personal brand.  This information will also help you to begin creating brand awareness for any company or organization with a few tweeks.

Check out more ideas and share some of your own at my website: MCATShare.com







Baseball Just Might Save the World


I normally post about things media or technology but I decided I wanted to share something different today.

With all that is going on in our world and our country, many people express concern about the youth of today and how they are part of this problem. As a teacher, I could not disagree more. This past weekend proved my point perfectly.

I went to my nephew’s little league regional championship game. And what a great experience it was. These boys are 10 years old and at their first “BIG” game. They are from Chatham County Georgia and their nickname is The Cheeto’s because they wear orange uniforms.

They are a rag-tag team of players, some playing baseball for the first time ever. They are all adorable, smart and polite. As I sat waiting for the game to start, I watched countless volunteer parents, coaches, announcers, field workers…the list goes on and on – all of these adults working together to make sure these kids have a great experience. And the kids were having the time of their life.

These kids don’t notice if the other players were black, white or green, only-can that guy hit? Wow what a pitcher! And playing their hearts out.

I watched my nephew, working along side his little friends, support each other when errors happen and hug each other when good plays were made. He even pitched the last strike out to win the game for the Cheeto’s . I was a nervous wreck, the parents were nervous wrecks, but Joey handled it like a pro. Even when a questionable play was called that loaded the bases with 2 outs, he was able to keep his head together and throw three strikes. I am so proud of him, not only for being a great ball player but for handling the pressure and caring about his team.

One of the great things was watching what baseball was teaching them. How they would cheer for each other and back each other up. So many life lessons can be learned in the game of baseball.

I noticed the coaches, my brother as one of them, making sure the kids played hard and fair and also making sure they had a good time and didn’t worry too much about winning. Don’t get me wrong, they wanted to win but these coaches knew how to balance that winning attitude with fun.

All of the players say the Little League Pledge at the beginning of each game:


I trust in God
I love my country
And will respect its laws
I will play fair
And strive to win
But win or lose
I will always do my best

Then I looked around at the parents. These people were amazing. Supporting both teams, cheering on their kids, spending their hard earned money to pay for uniforms, hotel rooms, and driving the 5 hours for this game.

What it taught me was that it’s the parents, teachers and coaches of this world that are making sure that our next generation are good solid human beings. If a kid has parents who support them, teachers who care and coaches that care as much about the life lessons as they do about winning, our kids will turn out just fine.

If these boys are any indication of our future, it is definitely looking bright. If YOU are worried about our future, stop by a little league game, or better yet, volunteer to help, you will be glad you did.

Just wanted to share. Thanks for reading.

Community Advice


Hello Media Connections:

I have a student who is graduating in December and needs some advice. She wants to work in media and use it as a tool to educate society about different social topics.

She has a passion for fighting gender stereotypes, particularly in sports.

Her capstone included doing research about the negative effects stereotypes can have on male athletes.

She wants to work in the non-profit arena using documentary film as her vehicle.

You are all experts in this world, where should she start? What types of jobs or internships should she pursue?

She is smart and passionate and would make a wonderful advocate for any social cause, I am just trying to steer her in some good directions.

Here are some suggestions I have already given:

*Start blogging about your cause
*Create a website and social media around your cause
*Connect with any and all people who work in your cause
*Create your own short films, put them on your website and youtube and use social media          to connect people to them

Any suggestions would be helpful.

Thank you.