Vegans on social media
This article was originally published as my monthly column in Vegan Life Magazine. You can find out about subscribing to this magazine online here.
Are you a plugged in vegan?
At a time when more humans than ever are glued to smartphones and hooked on handheld devices, it might seem a bit irresponsible of me to encourage vegans to spend more time online.
However, I’m convinced we can harness the positive attributes of social media for the purpose of spreading the vegan message and improving outcomes for non-human animals.
Staying switched on and being connected to the wider world digitally is an effective form of campaigning. We can promote independent business, we can offer support for new vegans, and we can connect with likeminded individuals by utilising the power of the Internet.
Firstly, social media is a powerful marketing tool when it comes to helping independently owned vegan business.
Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram are no cost at their basic levels and are extremely user-friendly, easily navigable by the least computer savvy.
Small businesses can build loyal social media followings (and therefore strong customer bases) by sharing news, product updates, menu changes, opening hours, photos, and even staff profiles.
These social media platforms are simple to use and allow the business owner to have total control over how they are represented in the world, without the need for expensive marketing budgets. You don’t even need to own a computer or laptop to make yourself known online as most phones now come with all you need to self publish. A decent built in camera and the ability to surf the Internet is all you require in order to become your own publicity department.
Local vegan markets are springing up all over world and these projects can also benefit from being visible on social media.
Attendees can bring crucial attention to vegan markets and fairs by sharing photos of their experience on Instagram and Twitter. The markets themselves in turn can retweet and share these posts, which is a fantastic way to build a relationship with the market regulars and create a buzz around what is happening.
Using a hashtag on your posts make the business or market searchable, meaning people who are thinking of visiting can check out what you have to offer ahead of time. Hashtags are an incredibly effective (and free) way of keeping track of visitor-generated social media content and repurposing it as additional content for your own pages.
You might be reading this and thinking, “Hey FGV. This is all well and good but I’m not a small business owner. Why do I need to know about the value of social media?”.
Of course you can support your favourite local business by posting about them online and leaving positive reviews, but the power of social media is also a persuasive tool in our campaigning to improve outcomes for animals. Even if we don’t feel like we have a product to sell, we can use our online presence for the good of animals.
Telling our vegan stories on YouTube is a form of activism. Posting our delicious vegan food photos on Instagram is a persuasive form of activism. Sharing news stories of vegan food advancements on Facebook is a form of activism.
You can create lists on Twitter to keep track of your favourite restaurants, activists, recipes, and vegan chefs. These lists are handy resources to send to new vegans or those interested in exploring the plant-based side of life.
As exciting as diving into this digital wild west can feel, it is important to remember some rules for sharing content on social media. These rules apply no matter if you are a business, an activist, or just enjoying your own online vegan adventure.
Use your own photos and created content, or be sure to credit the creator when you can. Nobody likes to have their hard work taken for free and there are laws prohibiting you from taking and using intellectual property for free.
Make sure photos are clear and well lit. You get your point across much more effectively whether that is selling a product, trying to convince people to make kinder choices, or just trying to grab a few likes for your impressively plated dinner from last night!
Stay away from sharing stories, images, and campaigns that use oppressive language and visuals. Vegan activism doesn’t have to (and really shouldn’t) include sexism, racism, homophobia, or any other forms of bigotry in order to be effective.
Take a minute to reconsider what you are sharing before you do and ask yourself if the content is kind to animals AND humans. If it isn’t, don’t share it!
Use it wisely and social media can be wonderful. Be kind online, be considerate with what you share, and work hard to make the Internet a safe space for humans who want to do better. Harness the power of the digital age, not animals!