Tuesday, December 26, 2017

An Introduction To Internet Advocating

Say What?

Advocacy on the internet? Absolutely! There are many, many people who have blogs, and they seek to reach certain audiences. While this post is not intended to help you do your research into how to best reach the audience you want to reach, it can help give you some pointers for how to be a readable, likable, and charismatic presence that people will trust and listen to.

A Word About Names

Before you start your advocacy, you need to think long and hard about the name you will use and whether you should be using a pseudonym. Some topics are so controversial, the answer is easy. Some topics, you may need to do some research into who your enemies and rivals will be, and the kind of ethics they will use. Other topics, you are in the clear majority, and you will be fine using your real name.

While using your real name, or at least, a real-sounding pseudonym like Francis Falkland, can lend you a level of credibility, it can also get you in trouble if other people have a similar name or live in a similar location to someone the name you choose. You will want to do some homework on that front.

A Word About Words

To begin with, I need to talk about the words we use. This is especially true for the topics I cover. If I use words that will make people shut down or get emotional, I just lost most of my audience. Pedophilia? No one knows what that really means, and some think it is the abuse of a child.

So, we need to talk about words. Jargon? Forget it. Leave it out. That means you will need to go back and edit. Let me give you an example of a paragraph with jargon, and a paragraph that says the same thing differently:

Pedophilia is a subject that no one wants to talk about. It elicits all kinds of reactions from us, and most of them are extremely negative. To discuss this topic, we must put our reactions down and talk about pedophilia.

That was the jargon version, unedited. So, what would that look like if I rephrased it?

Minor attraction is a subject that is hard for most people to talk about, because of the emotion and synonyms it brings up. To discuss minor attraction, we need to set some of our beliefs and reactions aside and look at the facts.

Do you see what I did there?

A Word About Font, Style, Color, And Making Things Easy To Read

Do you know what people hate about reading websites? Tiny font, or font that is so colored or styled that it becomes difficult or impossible to read. Yellow? Forget it. Light blue? Light green? Small font? No, leave it alone. Some of those things, I had to learn the hard way.

For a really easy look at what people like to see for a blog, take a look at my Medium page. While Medium has its limitations as a blog format, it illustrates this point perfectly: People need a slightly larger font. What font face should you use? That depends entirely on the effect you are going for in your audience. Do you want to be seen as an authority and trustworthy on your subject? Times New Roman. I know. That is not my favorite font either. For a more complete analysis of font choices, see here.

A Word About Platforms

Now, we come to the real issue: What platform should you use for advocacy? That depends entirely on what your topic is. Do you cover an issue that comes up often in the news? Then your platform might primarily be Disqus or Livefyre, maybe even Facebook or other plugins that news sites use to let users discuss the news. Do you cover an issue that is controversial? Pick a platform that is friendly to discussing it: Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Disqus, and others are great choices.

No matter what you choose to get your word out, you must have a primary platform for your content. Google's Blogger interface is handy, though Wordpress has distinct advantages over Blogger. You may even consider forming a website. No matter what your primary platform is, you will want to make it easy for people to read and use. Think of the easiest websites and blogs you navigate: Why are they easy to navigate?

Whichever platform you use, you do not want to use just one: You will want to use multiple platforms, and be comfortable using them. 

About Ease-Of-Use And Accessibility

When I use other advocacy sites, like Stop It Now!, one of the biggest drawbacks is the ability to easily find the right page to fit your need. Why? Because they categorize their information based on in-text links, not drop-down menus. So, when I formed my website, I settled on a theme that put what I needed to link people to in one simple menu, sometimes with sub-menus.

Why? Because having to go to that one specific page to find that one specific link is something most people are not willing to do. If they cannot find the information they are looking for, they will give up or go somewhere else. If you want your information to be what they find, then you need to figure out how to make that happen. Is your primary platform showing up in particular searches with specific keywords? Use those keywords in your posts wherever they make sense.

In Short, Be Creative!

You do not want to be stubborn and stick to a particular style just because you like it. You need to use what works, and that will push you outside your comfort zone. To do that, you need to be creative and think of things from different angles. You need to think hard about what is working, what is not, and what kind of feedback you are getting. If you are running a blog, you will need to post often to see results, and you will need to plug the blog posts from other platforms. If you are running a website, you need to remember to mention your website on other platforms, or at the very least, list it in your profiles in other platforms. Shamelessly plug, but do not spam.

That should give you a few tips to getting started on being a successful internet advocate that people pay attention to. Start discussions! Create controversy! Get messy! Just make sure people listen.

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