Amnesty International: Brainstorming social media

Last night I was privileged to be invited to pay a visit to Amnesty International UK alongside a small crew of social media bods (from the strategy consultants to the community managers like me). The topic was Amnesty’s use of social media and, in particular, their network,

Clearly the details of the discussion will, for now, remain inside Amnesty’s walls. But for me it was hugely interesting to see how a different – and very much international – organisation operates online. Dogs Trust and Amnesty are, at heart, very different kinds of organisations. Dogs Trust is a collection of centres in the UK doing the front line work, all managed from and supported by an HQ hub, working in one country with one over-arching goal which is the good welfare and treatment of dogs. The International reach is there, but limited, and mostly advice-based.

Amnesty is an attempt to marshall the collective power of driven individuals to further a common goal – the good welfare and treatment of people – but on thousands of fronts: stopping violence against women, pressuring restrictive governments to allow greater civil liberty, condemning torture… the list is brutal and endless. The International reach is phenomenal.

But what’s interesting is how little of this matters to the basic principles of social marketing and speaking to people online. Because, although there are individual difference (what approach you take with Twitter, for example, when you’re trying to discuss a million topics at once), the overall approach is the same no matter which website you use, what language you speak and what subject you’re talking about. People all over the world use the Internet pretty much the same way, and although the individual approach can be tweaked for the organisation depending on the desired end result, the ideas that came up in discussion were all pretty much universal.

And almost all of them were basic, old-fashioned common sense.

I was heartened to meet a group of people who all think of the web in the most clear, logical, common-sense terms. They all work hard and have brilliant ideas. I can only hope they thought my contributions were as useful, and that I’ll be invited back to find out more in the future.