Have you ever liked an issue-related Facebook page or joined a Facebook group because a friend asked you to show your support?
Commented on a political news story online because something about it got your goat? Maybe added your name to an internet petition because somebody emailed you about it? Or sponsored a friend or contributed money to a charitable (or otherwise) cause online?
All of these constitute the new, accessible forms of digital consumer action and participation that simply weren't readily available before the modern web came to be.
Essentially, we're all activists now — or at least we can be if we want to — with a ready-made arsenal of sophisticated digital tools at our disposal.
The mere act of typing out a single, popularly used hashtag on Twitter can instantaneously join your voice to a dialogue of thousands, even millions.
But it's a big world and there's an awful lot of cross-wire yammering going on.
So if you've got a great idea for your local community, you think you've been wronged by an organisation or there's a particular issue you want people to focus their attention on, how do you get into the digital spotlight and make your cause noticed?
Here are all the ways you can make your voice heard and empower your cause digitally:
Arguably the most dynamic public forum ever, Twitter is also the noisiest place on the internet. But if you can master the art of the hashtag and get sympathetic minds tweeting and retweeting your cause, you can cut through the din and build an organic critical mass.
Your campaign will look professional and authoritative if you have a standalone web site or blog you can call your own and which serves as central HQ for messaging, history and contact info.
A Facebook page is an obvious tool to gather people around your project. It easily lets almost anyone get involved (in Australia, Facebook penetration still significantly outweighs Twitter usage), rope in their own friends and provides an easy platform for messages, events, updates, pictures, polling and video.
Let's not forget the humble email. A well-written piece of correspondence that captures your audience's attention and communicates your issue can convert a recipient into a follower. Be careful not to infuriate people — you could literally spam them over to the opposite side.
In addition to communicating your message by writing about it, don't forget to document your exploits with visual storytelling. In addition to using Twitter and Facebook, Tumblr can be perfect for this, or repurpose Instagram into a propaganda tool.
Video can be an unfailingly persuasive medium. Guerilla-style pieces are easy and quick, but if you have the time and resources to properly shoot and edit a short film, promo or doco, go for it. Clever and creative ideas could go viral.
With an impressive track record, Change.org is a powerful and easy-to-use petitioning service, and it carries the weight of a sophisticated activism platform. For more info on Change.org, see further down this article.
Depending on how ambitious or creative your campaign is going to be, you might actually need some money to pull it off. Crowdfunding giants like Kickstarter and Indiegogo grab all the headlines, but there's a lot of niche providers that might be more tailored to your particular issue, such as sustainability, not-for-profit causes, scientific projects and so on.
9. Web resources
There's a wealth of free resources, blogs and web sites to keep you up to date with the latest in activism methods and successes, digital or otherwise. Google is your friend, but also check outwww.meta-activism.org and irevolution.net. For an academic analysis, download the free ebook,Digital Activism Decoded: The New Mechanics of Change (2010).