Once upon a time… In your neighbourhood and in a land far far away…

Published on November 19, 2014 in Blog
Social Media Infographic
What we engage with online can have a remarkable effect on the ground. It can accelerate change and extend our communities of support beyond physical boundaries. It is not entirely coincidental that many social movements of the modern day, including Transition, follow the same growth in participation as that of social media usage.

There is a shift in which has accompanied this rise in the use of social media for social change that is worth some attention. ’Like’ social media or not, online storytelling and exchange is facilitating global exchange not just about what communities are achieving but crucially how they are achieving it.

Perhaps one of the reasons that we have seen social media take such a key place in the storybook of modern change is its ability to do just that – provide a storybook, the chapters unfolding and relating before our eyes. In towns and places we know and as a window on those we may never go. The pace of inspiration, lessons learned and information exchange online is now arguably an accepted part of social change.

Change at a local level is reason for celebration within that local community. However, almost as swiftly this process for change allows other groups to look in on action and accelerate their own change in their locality. Change takes time (often), and being in a global community however broad and remote its participants is comfort and support during this process.

So what? So, the act of telling and sharing a process both validates the outcome (change in a community) and but critically allows the sharing of the stories along the way to be just as important. Locally and globally.

Community TogetherThis shift in process versus outcome is often automatically accompanied by an increase in authenticity of a story. Authenticity can be an essential element of storytelling for dynamic change. We don’t have to rely on the happy ending of a story to benefit from that story. The ups and downs, the why, what’s and how’s. Lessons learnt the hard way by others, eases our own way forward.

In marketing and PR this is a huge cultural shift. There are now storytellers all over the place. And they are promoting the stories as well as the outcomes of those stories. These storytellers are raising the profile of their organisations and communities through the act of sharing how they do what they do. I turn they get feedback, challenge, debate, and other peoples stories.

This is a little bit the antithesis of traditional PR which relies on the outcome of work  – the ‘Dah Dah’ moment if you like. An ‘us and them’, a communication from the announcer to the listener. What an ever watching crowd of people on social media gives is an interactive audience to the storytellers. And within story you get the ‘how we did it’ as well as the ‘Dah Dah’.

What does this mean for communities in change? It means you are at the leading edge of your community practice. Critically (in all senses of the word) in the room with you are hundreds of thousands of people who will listen and hopefully respond to your story. So find your voice, be prepared for debate and questions and tell it like it is…


Want to do more with social media?

We are bringing together Transition Initiatives in the UK interested in exploring how social media can help their activities expand and flourish.

So if you have ideas to discuss with others around the world, activities to share with people locally or recruitment to projects to focus on, then social media could help.

Be you a Tweeter? Friend or foe on Facebook? Hanging out regularly on Google? Come to an online session on 21 January 2015 8pm GMT about Using Social Media for Events. It will be aimed at people with some experience of using social media but keen to learn more.

This is the second session in a series of 3 online skills share session. If you have another social media topic you would like to discuss then let us know for future sessions.

Visit Eventbrite to book your place.


Blog written by Anna Lodge, working with the REconomy Project Team at Transition Network


*Updated 6th January 2015

This REconomy Project work is generously supported by the Friends Provident Foundation.