Israel Advocacy on Social Media
I was lucky enough to present a joint workshop with Arnie Draiman on the subject of Israel advocacy and new media for the Israel Research Fellowship. Arnie spoke about the battle for objectivity on Wikipedia. He spends about an hour a day making sure that facts are checked and verified on the online encyclopedia and that anti-Israel bias is not allowed to stand. He encourages all pro-Israel advocates to join the “wiki war.”
One of the things I learned from Arnie is that the Israeli-Arab conflict is such a controversial subject on Wikipedia that it has its own rules. Changing text back to its previous version can’t be done as often on this subject as it can be for other, less controversial, topics. Another interesting fact is that while Facebook and Youtube are not considered to be reliable sources on Wikipedia, an article which quotes a Facebook status or a Youtube video IS thought to be reliable. As for Wikipedia etiquette, Arnie recommends remaining anonymous and being polite even in the face of provocation.
I started my discussion of Israel advocacy on social media with some questions: Why advocate for Israel on social media? (Because it’s many people’s primary news source these days and mainstream media is often biased.) Who are we trying to influence? (Not the people who already agree with us and not the ones who never will, rather the people who haven’t formed a strong opinion yet.)
I gave some examples of people and organizations who have done great things with Israel advocacy on social media. These include the IDF spokeperson‘s office, which in addition to day-to-day advocacy, ran a successful social media campaign to describe how the IDF was helping in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake. The campaign was so successful that Haitians used the Twitter account to let the army know where help was needed.
Paula Stern ran a successful campaign to get #Gilad to trend on Twitter, with the goal of raising awareness of Gilad Shalit’s plight three years into his captivity.
HonestReporting has done a remarkable job in combating media bias and has excelled at getting the world’s attention through use of Slideshare slideshows.
Real Jerusalem Streets (contributor of the photo above) is a great example of how images can be really powerful in showing Israel as it really is.
Of course, the main part of my talk focused on actual strategies: how to set up your feed so it becomes a resource, should you blog and if so, how. I talked about the advantages of using social media, both in terms of the excitement it engenders and the love it gets from the search engines. SEO was discussed too: using Google Adwords Keyword tool for some basic keyword research and how to optimize your social media profiles for Google.
The Israel Research Fellows were a great group. They are clearly all tech-savvy and many of them have quite a bit of experience in social media and even in managing social for an organization. This made for a lively discussion and a lot of great questions. I enjoyed giving this workshop so much, I have started thinking about who else might benefit from it.