Each One Teach One

Latest statistics from, the German online platform, Statista indicate that there are 5, 19 billion internet users (64.6% of the global population). While 59.9% of the global population are social media users at 4, 88 billion people. According to Statista the largest social media platforms in terms of the total number of users are Meta-owned apps, namely Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. The biggest social network Facebook has more than 2.9 billion monthly users.

The internet allows for the rapid spread of information and giving voice to diverse communities. Consequently, this has made it possible for anyone with a computer or a cellular phone, and an internet connection to be accessed. This has allowed activists to have a broader audience reach. This challenges traditional rules of engagement of mass communication where often gatekeeping and news agendas determine whether your campaign will see the day of light. Both local and international audiences can be accessed as the user interface of the social networking apps makes it possible for campaigns to be disseminated through the ‘share’ option. This gives way to the notion of ‘Each One Teach One’ that speaks to empowering each other and creating collective knowledge.

Clear and concise message

It is important to note that not everyone who is online will engage with the content that campaigners upload. It is therefore important to have a clear and concise message that will speak to the intended focus group. As described by The Comms Social Change Library [i]digital campaigning uses technology to create transformation through online communication channels like email, social media apps and petitions. It is therefore imperative to fully comprehend the intended target audience of the online campaign in order for resources can be best utilised efficiently. The manner in which the content will distributed will also determine the type of content created and vice versa.

Digital Storytelling a participatory visual method

Rhodes University[1] defines Digital Storytelling (DST) as a participatory visual method that uses basic ICT to create compelling narratives based on personal experiences, and furthermore that can be a tool for collaboration and social change. Digital storytelling is the art of using multimedia tools to portray a particular narrative. Multimedia is the use of text, images, audio, video, animation, and interactivity. A combination of multimedia tools can create a compelling visual product that will garner support from online users

The Centre for Digital Storytelling’ has 7 elements of DST which is a useful first step in creating engaging online content.

1. Point of View: What is the main point of the story and the perspective of the author?

2. A Dramatic Question: A key question that keeps the viewer's attention.

3. Emotional Content: Serious issues that come alive in a personal and powerful way and connect the audience to the story.

4. The Gift of Your Voice: A way to personalize the story to help the audience understand the context.

5. The Power of the Soundtrack: Music or other sounds that support and embellish the story.

6. Economy: Using just enough content to tell the story without overloading the viewer.

7. Pacing: The rhythm of the story and how slowly or quickly it progresses.

Storytelling empowers both the author and the person receiving the message who might have had or is having a similar lived experience. DST can bring awareness to a certain cause to educate those who might not be familiar with the issues. On the other hand, it also speaks to those already affected by the issue and to be in solidarity with them. And it can also become a resource for those who need assistance and direct them in the direction of the relevant stakeholders who can assist. It can also form s a change driver by holding the powerful publically accountable.

The idea of a digital footprint can work in the favour of campaigners, where they will be able to measure the impact the campaign had in real time and be made aware of similar instances taking place across geographical lines.

Documentary style of campaigning can be useful when wanting to give a general overview of an issue, by taking the viewer through a journey of how things got to this point. Infographics can simplify large samples of data that will be easily understood by the average viewer through the use of graphs, illustrations, and a colour scheme.

From zero to hero

In the year 2018, the City of Cape Town was able to avert ‘Day Zero’, an estimated day that the city would have completely ran out of municipal water, through a multi-stakeholder approach. This was achieved through a robust online awareness campaign that count down the number of days to ‘Day Zero’ unless all stakeholders played their part. The robust campaign started at 90 days before the predicted ‘Day Zero’. The city launched a water map indicating water consumption levels in residential areas, alongside realizing weekly updates on dam levels and water consumption. Commuters and motorists were also notified of the number of days left on electronic boards along the freeways. The executive Mayor Patricia De Lille published online press releases giving regular updates. Following the multi-stakeholder intervention residential water consumption dropped by 30%.

Power to the people

The #AmINext campaign went viral on X in September 2019 in South Africa following the brutal murder and sexual assault of nineteen-year-old University of Cape Town student Uyinene Mrewetyana. Uyinene was attacked by an employee of the South African Post Office in one of their Western Cape branches. South Africans in particular women, were enraged and in utter shock which played out in the online arena the

Under the hashtag, South Africans were questioning the safety of women and children in the country and demanded answers from the government. The online movement gained momentum which led to thousands of people, many survivors of Gender Based Violence, marching to Parliament in Cape Town. A memorandum was handed over to President Cyril Ramaphosa. Protesters demanded a state of emergency be declared that will address the scourge of Gender-Based Violence in South Africa. This campaign relied on user-generated content to steer the movement in the right direction.

The face of health

The Movember campaign by the Movember Foundation based in Australia originally started in 2003 and since has had a global online presence. At the start of November, participants sign up with clean-shaven faces which they will only groom at the end of November. The ultimate aim of the campaign is to raise awareness of men’s health issues and encourage men to go for health check-ups. Annually participants upload pictures of their growing beards generating online awareness and encouraging others to participate as well. The Movember Foundation provides support by availing resources that can be shared online, like infographics, social media templates, and fundraising toolkits. Movember has achieved global success with 21 companies celebrating the month of Movember, there is also been a reported increase of men signing up for health and wellness checks, as well as donating substantial funds to charities focused on healthcare. This campaign uses powerful images to get its message across.

Buckets for change

Another challenge that went viral is the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Ice Bucket challenge the challenge started with three men living with ASL wanting to create awareness for the disease and for fundraising. The challenge entails pouring buckets of ice water over your head filming and posting it online and challenging others to do the same. The challenge garnered a large amount of support from the public and millions of dollars in fundraising for the ASL Association.

In conclusion, campaigners can harness the opportunities that multimedia content presents, user-generated stories, and social networking sites to foster meaningful change in society. Digital storytelling can connect activists with audiences that will leave a lasting impact on their lives.

[1] https://www.ru.ac.za/communityengagement/socialinnovation/aboutdigitalstorytelling/#:~:text=Digital%20Storytelling%20(DST)%20is%20a,for%20collaboration%20and%20social%20change.

[i] https://commonslibrary.org/topic/digital-campaigning/