Friday, 5 March 2010

Robin Hood and his Merry (online) Men

Last week I joined over 128, 600 other online followers and became a facebook fan of The Robin Hood Tax, a campaign aimed at lobbying the government to introduce a new deal between banks and society.

It is a current example of the many campaigns which have begun to utilise social media outlets such as facebook as a means to mobilise the public to support their cause. The facebook users amongst you will have undoubtedly been asked to join similar online ‘movements’, whether it be for serious political or social issues or rather more simple (but perhaps just as urgent?) causes such as to find out whether a sausage roll can receive more followers than Cheryl Cole. (pretty close but not yet!)

Initially being introduced to the campaign myself due to being linked through facebook and receiving the majority of subsequent information on the issue online, I think this is a good example of a campaign that is utilising digital media to full potential, demonstrating the powers of reaching the public through online communication.

In addition to a dedicated facebook page, the public can link to The Robin Hood Tax through twitter, youtube and flickr culminating to create a strong online presence for the cause. By encouraging followers to adorn their facebook and twitter avatars with green Robin Hood masks and fire twitter arrows at local MP’s the campaign is gaining online momentum, obtaining many new followers daily who can carry out these simple actions in order to show their support. Those who are particularly passionate about the cause are also encouraged to email their MPs, the responses of which have been posted by many on the facebook page. Through these online actions, public opinion can be easily demonstrated, providing pressure on the government at a key stage in proceedings with the initiatives early day motion currently being drawn up.

Alongside updating followers on recent developments, the twitter and facebook pages also enable discussion between both supporters and critics of the initiative. The capacity of online media to facilitate public dialogue is perhaps particularly important on issues such as this where public opinion appears to be split quite evenly. Those who are undecided on the issue can also access a range of opinions and debates through these online channels which will help them to shape an opinion on the topic.

Those who were previously unfamiliar with the initiative will hopefully not only agree that it is a good example of a fully digitalised communication campaign but also that it is a really simple and excellent idea and one worth supporting!


  1. I agree to the point that those who don´t have a proper statement on a specific topic may feel encouraged by others to establish their own view.
    But sometimes I think issues which are lobbied throughout social networks seek to enforce the number of their followers by group pressure. So, if a big part of your friends becomes a fan or follower of the presented issue the more likely you feel forced to get also a part of it, even if you don´t agree completely or you don´t really care.
    And this attitude may distort the factual resonance.

  2. I think that although it is possible to pick up some fairly disinterested publics in the process of having a fan page on Facebook or similar sites, it is worth it. For even those who may not have been particuarly interested may get more so and there is certainly potential to encourage their vague interest.

    So, although I agree with some of what you have said Mali, I don't think the excess bulk of disinterested fans is not much different to the 100s of 'Mickey Mouse' signatures on the traditional petition.

    The more I think about it, the more I believe that social networking is the only way to engage the generation who are familiar with it.