I swear, this isn’t going to become a politics blog. But feel free to consider this a follow up to my second-last post. As was the hot rumour on December 30, the Prime Minister asked the Governor General to prorogue Parliament and the Queen’s representative said okilly doke (or something to that effect). Bam. Proroguation sweeps the nation.
This clearly struck a chord with Canadians who feel as though their elected representatives should, you know, represent them. Columnists and editorialists were almost unanimously against the move and, as is the hip thing to do in this day and age, a Facebook Group was started to protest prorogation.
And it grew, and grew, and grew…
Then a crazy thing happened. People joined the group. A lot of people. As of the time of writing this post, the group was closing in on 25k (though size on Facebook is relative, Nickelback’s Fan Page, for example, has 1.3 million members including an alarming number of my ‘friends.’ But still, 25k for a grassroots group is pretty impressive).
That’s the equivalent of every person in Prince Edward County joining the group in just a matter of days (go Wikipedia skillz!). Even the mainstream press has picked up on the story, which is generally considered a sign of a successful social media campaign, no?
So now what?
While the growth of this group in such a short time is impressive, I’m kind of left wondering what’s next. As my brilliant wife noted on Twitter, maybe the fact that the group itself is a story makes this a success. In the biz that’d be considered earned media, the ultimate goal of any outreach strategy.
But, as I’ve blogged before, how much traction does a protest have when it’s so easy to be part of it? Is joining the group the end of the action taken by those 25k? What percentage of them will actually take the next step and write to their MP or attend a rally?
A big group is a step, not a goal
Getting 25, 000 people to join a group is a great first step but it shouldn’t be considered a goal in and of itself. MediaStyle‘s Ian Capstick suggested this morning in response to my question about the group that perhaps joining the group is an easy first step that gets people moving into more concrete action. And as a social media guy, let me be clear: I really hope that it is.
This has the potential to be a great case study in grassroots mobilization. There’s already talk of rallies to build on the group’s momentum (though curiously enough there’s no information in the Events section of the group).
But political action doesn’t begin and end with joining a Facebook group.