Here’s another thinking point for those wanting to bring about change in their community.
Q: What do Flickr, email, blogs, YouTube and phonecalls have in common?
A: Oxfam recently combined all these tools together in a successful orchestrated campaign on behalf of Ethiopian coffee farmers for a fair deal in their trading.
What it was about
Ethiopia wanted to copyright its gourmet coffee names. Ethiopian coffee farmers often collect as little as 10 percent of the profits from these coffees. Copyrighting the names could potentially increase income for the farmers by about US$88 million a year. Oxfam ran a successful campaign to pressure Starbucks to allow this to happen.
What Oxfam America did
Oxfam emailed supporters, asking some to email and others to call Starbucks. Then Oxfam filmed a protest and uploaded the video to YouTube. Some Ethiopian bloggers embedded the YouTube video on their blogs. Oxfam emailed supporters asking them to comment on the video. Oxfam asked supporters to take photos of themselves with signs pledging support to Ethiopian farmers and to upload those photos to Flickr.
In brief, Oxfam combined email, phonecalls, blogs, YouTube and Flickr, with their associated RSS feeds, tagging, comments, ratings and sharing features, to connect the interested parties with one another and to engage them in a successful campaign.
Tagging, sharing and comments
Flickr and YouTube not only make it possible but encourage visitors to comment on, rate and share the photos and movies they see. Videos and photos can be ‘tagged’ with keywords such as ‘oxfam’, ‘ethiopia’, and ‘coffee’. The tags make the photos and videos easy to find, and make it easy to share the address with interested parties, or in publicity.
Comments and ratings help ‘engage’ viewers, who are also given tools to easily share what they’re seeing. They enable word of mouth — one of the most powerful ways of spreading a message.
Use these free tools
How can you start to use these tools in your organisation? Add an item to the agenda for your next committee meeting to view the YouTube videos and Flickr photos linked from this Tip and to discuss the Oxfam campaign. Are there any lessons here that could aid your organisation?
- The Secrets to a Successful Online Campaign
- Ethiopia vs. Starbucks: A collection
- Starbucks Agrees to Honor its Commitments to Ethiopian Coffee Farmers
- Oxfam Uses Flickr To Advocate For Ethiopian Coffee Famers
- Oxfam America YouTube channel
- Video thank you from Oxfam and Ethiopian coffee farmers
- Flickr petition photos
- Black Gold documentary movie
- Ethiopian Portal
Written for and reproduced from CommunityNet Aotearoa Panui, August 2007.