All pro-life organizations ought to have some presence on social media, but there are some common mistakes that can drastically reduce the effectiveness of a Facebook page. Speaking as someone with experience as a Students for Life leader, running an effective Facebook page is not as difficult as it looks. This post will help you see actual results rather than just having your Facebook page sit there as another task on your long to-do list. It just takes some intentionality.
If you do not already have a public Facebook page for your group, then you need to create one right away. A Facebook group for your club members to privately chat in is not the same as a page because it does not allow you to develop either a public following or interest in your group. The Facebook page is a public platform that allows people to find you, follow what is happening with your group, and share your posts with their friends.
These 16 tips will help you to get measurable results from your Facebook page:
Whether you are participating in legislative efforts, sidewalk advocacy, volunteering at a Pregnancy Resource Center, or leading a Students for Life group, you should be talking about your pro-life work. Pro-lifers need to talk more about what we are doing for the movement because building awareness is half the battle of grassroots mobilization efforts. Successful social change comes from recruiting those who agree and reaching out to those who disagree.
Let’s take a look at how pro-choice people discuss their activism. I am going to use the Women’s March of January 2017 as a case study for how we as pro-life advocates can improve our own messaging by examining the March’s approach and identifying what we can learn from it. The second Women’s March took place this year on January 20th, but, for the sake of simplicity, I am only going to reference the first march in this post. The march this year was less clear and consistent in its messaging, so it isn’t as useful a case study.
When the Women’s March took place last year, it was discussed all over social media, news sites, and in our communities: the kind of buzz that every social protest hopes to create. People talked about why they were going, how they planned on getting there, and what their experience was like after they came back from either the national or local march. If activism sparks discussion, it is a sign that the activism achieved some level of success. These marches were not just public demonstrations which took place on one day and were over the next. The people participating talked about it openly before, during, and after with anyone that they could reach.
Here are my takeaways after closely studying the success and shortcomings of the pro-choice movement’s participation in the Women’s March:
I regularly hear people complain about Virtue-Signaling, but I haven’t yet found a balanced attempt to clarify what it is and what it isn’t. Mostly I’ve noticed that people are quick to accuse people outside of their own political tribes of doing it. Without any definitions, how is a fair-minded person to distinguish between appropriate critiques and partisan smears?
Another problem is that I’ve long felt that some virtue-signaling is not actually morally objectionable, but I never see people make distinctions to allow for that. It’s just an accusation, and an inherently irrefutable one at that. I’d like to offer some distinctions between types of Virtue-Signaling with the hope that people will be able to distinguish the objectionable types from the acceptable types. I’ll close with suggestions about how and when to accuse someone of Virtue-Signaling, all with the desired end of helping dialogue to be more productive between parties that disagree.
What is Virtue-Signaling?
Virtue-Signaling is always referred to in a negative way, but given that the term itself is etymologically neutral, my recommended definition is intentionally neutral in order to minimize confusion:
- to give an indication that you have a particular virtue (usually, though not necessarily, through a statement).
CBR’s GAP display at UGA. Used with permission.
In 2004 an arrogant pro-life high school student attended a pro-life outreach at the University of Georgia. When he learned that the Center for Bioethical Reform was going to set up large signs with abortion images that day, the arrogant student saw it as an opportunity for him to put his studying to good use.
That morning he totally out-debated any pro-choice people willing to talk to him. The arrogant student wasn’t too obnoxious, because he was intelligent enough to know that he had to come across as sympathetic in order to accomplish his very clear objective: winning the arguments.
At lunchtime the arrogant student sat down with a few volunteers he hadn’t met before and they made light conversation about their experiences. The arrogant student commented that he couldn’t believe some of the things these “crazies” said. A wise volunteer very gently responded, “If you’re thinking of them as crazies, haven’t you already kind of lost?”
Sometimes it is tough to be a pro-life college student. Most challenges students face are found on campus during a tabling event or with the administration, but sometimes they are inside the classroom. Far too often when pro-life students dare to speak up in defense of the unborn, professors attempt to humiliate and silence them. [Tweet that!]
I experienced this first hand in a biology class during my freshman year. The class focused on technological advances in the field of biology and the ethical concerns which accompanied the advancements.
My professor, “Dr. Nation,” covered each topic with a series of lectures, and then allowed a discussion day with groups of students representing the pro and con side of the issue for the class, followed by a Q&A portion. After the presentation on embryonic stem cell research, I excitedly got in line to ask my question for the pro-embryonic stem cell research team. They had made a case for the research on the basis that we should take advantage of the embryos instead of just letting them go to waste. This was one of the first times I had the opportunity in college to speak up for the pro-life perspective. I had just returned from my first March for Life and was nervous to challenge the students in front of the class.
Each student in front of me stepped up to ask a clarification question about something from either presentation, and a few challenged the con side. I was the first person to make any sort of case for the pro-life side in the entire semester. My turn came, and I began to ask the students if they would use the same argument to advocate for the intentional destruction of human life in other cases if it would mean biological research could progress. I was about to give a thought experiment example when Dr. Nation cut me off. He had not done this a single time with any of the students that day or in any other discussion days in the entire semester.