Thoughts about a social media campaign for “The Stripping of Freedoms”

Work in progress! See discussion questions at the bottom

excerpt from The Stripping of Freedom logoEPIC’s The Stripping of Freedoms conference has an all-star cast: Kate Hanni of FlyersRights, pilot Michael Roberts of Fed Up Flyers, Jim Babb of We Won’t Fly, Prof. Jeffrey Rosen, Bruce Schneier, Nadhira Al-Khalili of CAIR, Chip Pitts of BORDC, Ginger McCall and Lillie Coney of EPIC, and many many more.  So it’s a great chance to mobilize the resistance to the TSA.

Social media* are an important way of getting the word out; letting people participate whether or not they can make it to Washington DC; putting pressure on Congress, the Obama administration, and the airlines; and trying to get the traditional media to cover our side of the story as well as the TSA’s.   Here’s some thoughts about how to approach it.

The first step is to let people know about the conference — and get them excited about it.  There are a lot of easy ways to do this: invite people to the Facebook event, share the links to EPIC’s page and blog posts on Facebook and Myspace, tweet it, mail it to your friends who are likely to be interested, tell any bloggers and journalists you know about it. A lot of people have never done anything like this before, so we’ll try to have some basic instructions available.  We’ll also set up threads in the FlyerTalk forums and the We Won’t Fly blog to ask for questions and strategy suggestions.

During the event, live video will be available via We’ll also have discussion on Twitter on the #ScanTSA hashtag, with a two-way connection so that the speakers and audience in DC can see the backchannel. One of the goals here is to get discussions going between people watching online, to build connections that are a basis for future activism. Another goal is to generate ideas to help inform the strategy panel that wraps it up.

It may also make sense to stage an social network activism campaign in conjunction with the conference. There are several groups fighting the TSA who have large mailing lists, so we have a good chance at getting some traction; and we’ll need to make it as easy as possible for people everybody to participate.

A couple of ideas so far:

  • letter-writing campaigns to Congress and the airlines (we’ll need sample letters)
  • encouraging people to change their Facebook and MySpace statuses or photos
  • engaging with high-profile supporters on Twitter to try to get them involved (Penn Jillette, Khloe Khardasian, Rachel Maddow, etc.)
  • trying to get #ScanTSA to trend on Twitter to help raise awareness

The event ends with a strategy panel, and there will be plenty of ways we’ll need to get people involved going forward.  So the final part of the social media campaign will be to get the word out about the conclusions and calls to action, broaden participation, and continue to work on getting media coverage.

If you haven’t ever been involved in a successful social media campaign before, it’s exhiliarating when it works and things go viral.  It doesn’t always happen, of course; still, the more people who get involved and start helping, the more likely it is to come together.  So if you’re reading this, please try to find a little time over the next week to be part of it.

Discussion questions:

  • Thoughts about any of these activism ideas?  Other suggestions?
  • Should we set up a YouTube channel to collect videos of TSA abuses?  There’s a lot of great stuff out there …
  • How to reach out to the libertarian, progressive, and political blogospheres — and the feminist and womanist blogospheres?
  • How best to incorporate social media into the conference site?

Feedback welcome!

* discussion forums, blogs, and social networks