Pioneering Social Activists Share Hashtag Activism Tips


Speaking out against social injustice doesn’t mean you have to join a mid-day march of millions in a major city when you should be clocking hours in school. Advocating for your cause via Twitter, can help get strengthen a message no matter where you are. Though some have called Twitter activism, “lazy” (referring to it “slacktavism,”), over the past few years hashtag campaigns have made a big impact on IRL change. The #standwithpp campaign, for example, helped push the Susan G. Komen Foundation to restore it’s more than half a million in funding to Planned Parenthood (#standwithpp).

So what are the best ways to use Twitter when advocating for your favorite cause? We spoke with creators of #hollaback, which fights against street harassment, #NoTeenShame, which tackles young parenting stigma and advocates for sexual education, and other high-impact activists, for tips on how to take the message to Twitter and beyond:



“I think hashtag activism has excelled at helping people tell their stories. Oftentimes, these are stories of day-to-day discrimination. Moments that historically would have been lost, or told only to best friends at the end of the day, are now being shared publicly. This is having a powerful impact. People are learning that they aren’t alone, and that no matter how small-seeming, discrimination in any form hurts. But I think there is another amazing trend here too: the opportunity to listen.  I think when we listen, and truly try to understand a world outside of ourselves — that’s when change happens. So my advice? It’s simple really. Speak up and tell your story if you have one, and if you don’t, sit back, listen, and retweet.  Together, we can change the conversation.

And yes — you should always do a research into the history of a hashtag before you start to participate, to make sure that you’re engaging in the conversation in a way that is constructive.”

--Emily May
Executive Director, Hollaback!
twitter: @ihollaback, #hollaback


Stay consistent and to create a cause that is close to your heart so the time you put into it is not laborious and feels like “ugh work” but wonderful work.

--Gloria Malone
Founder of Teen Mom NYC and Co-creator of #NoTeenShame
twitter: @GloriaMalone, #NoTeenShame


“Communicate your call to action clearly and concisely with a shortened URL and a memorable hashtag.”

--Jamia Wilson
Executive Director, YTH (Youth + Tech + Health)
twitter: @jamiaw 


“Don’t rely solely on digital media to further your cause. While online networks have tremendously shifted the way we impact social change, we can’t afford to underestimate the power of face-to-face conversations.”

--Shanelle Matthews
Communications Strategist for the ACLU of Northern California
twitter: @TheShanelleM, @ACLU_NorCal