A terrible thought occurred to me last night: The only people who know anything about Senate Bill 373 and the drive to ban certain species of commonly kept pet snakes are keepers and breeders. Think about that for a minute, let it sink in. The VAST majority of Americans are oblivious to the bill. To make matters even worse most Americans have no idea what the Lacey Act is and how it effects us. But I don’t blame them. No, instead I blame us. As in you and I. We’ve not gotten the word out to those who need to hear it. In other words those people who have nothing whatsoever to do with snakes.
Don’t fret, although time is short that’s the beauty of social networking. It spreads like wildfire if used properly. We won’t waste time talking about what social networking is or why it is so effective at mobilizing people. Instead we will dive right into how we can use it to stop the effort to ban several species of pet snakes.
The tools of the trade
The number of social networking sites is mind boggling as you can see by this small sampling of them. An article from 2008 in USA Today says there were at that time around 250,000 live social networking sites. That’s a lot of people! The good news is that we’re just going to concentrate on using a few of them. If you decide to use more, great, the principle still applies.
- Facebook (FB):
Born in the halls of academia, or more accurately in some guy’s dorm room, Facebook has become the defacto standard of social networking. FB has over 400 million users and the average person has 130 friends in their network. I’m not great at math but with the estimated 22% of Americans using FB that equates out to a potential 66 million people (22% of 300 million American citizens) that can be educated about the dangers of SB 373.
More accurately known as a micro-blogging service, Twitter has proven valuable for spreading the word on many different issues such as the fraudulent Iranian elections of 2009, or when Dell generated 6.5 million dollars in sales using Twitter alone, or when the Egyptian government freed a man held in prison there due in large part to a Twitter campaign launched by his friend. If it can be used to do those things then I can see no reason why it can’t be put to work to save our hobby and livelihood in regards to pet snakes.
Initially I was hesitant to include Youtube in this list due to a slightly higher level of technical difficulty but there is no denying how powerful videos are. If you are able to develop a video that goes viral it can pay huge dividends. For example the (in)famous Starwars Kid video:
If a picture is worth a thousand words then a video is worth infinitely more. Just watch for yourself:
- Post a short paragraph about what is happening on your wall. Close it by asking a question about their opinion on the issue. It doesn’t hurt to make sure that at the very least friends of friends can see and comment as well.
- Send the top 5 or 10 people most likely to listen a direct message. Explain to them why it is important to you. How it will affect you personally. The goal is to turn it into something they care about because they care about you. Underhanded? Perhaps, but don’t let that stop you.
- Join and recommend a FB page such as USARK to all of your friends. In my experience people join just about any page that you recommend them to check out. That’s not a good thing, but it is another avenue of education for them.
Campaigning to protect pet snakes with Facebook
Start with friends and family when you talk about the ban on snakes. Because of your relationship with them they will at listen. Your family and friends might be willing to listen, but don’t expect them to act unless you motivate them.
That’s what makes your social networks such a powerful tool. You can use them to motivate many family members and friends. Best of all if you can motivate them to take a stand in defense of the hobby they will also be motivated enough to motivate their friends.
Bringing Twitter to the defense of pet snakes
I follow 3 internet marketers on twitter and at any time of the day I check at least one of them is tweeting about their website, or their product. I may not believe in their product, I might not believe their sales claims, but the undeniable fact is that people are reading about it because they use their twitter account to talk about it. Then people respond and retweet what they’ve said. Compare that to the rest of the people I follow (190+ as of this writing) with about 60% of them being reptile related. I’m lucky to see 5 tweets a day about SB 373. If I’m not seeing them then I doubt many other people are.
It’s simple enough to use twitter. Tweet once an hour directing people to an online resource talking about the impact of SB 373 on the snake keeping hobby. You can do it from a computer, a mobile device, or just a simple cellular phone. People will visit the site you point them to.
In short start using your twitter account to tell people about what is happening in this hobby. If Twitter can spark a revolution in Iran than surely it can be used to defend our privileges in regards to pet snakes.
Youtub’in for our pet snakes
There seems to be two things that stop people from using Youtube.
- A lack of technical skill in regards to creating content and getting it online
- A belief they need a video camera, or even a camera at all
This isn’t the place to give technical instruction on how to create content, or how to setup a Youtube account. Instead watch these videos:
Once you know how to create a video put something together. Aim for a video between 30 seconds and 2 minutes long. If you need pictures don’t hesitate to use Advanced Google Image Search to find images that abide by the creative commons licensing agreement. Just look for the line that says Usage Rights Return images that are: and drop it down to the appropriate license you need.
After you create your video get it in front of people. Comment on other videos, or better yet post a video response:
In conclusion I wanted to know if anyone has questions or needs help getting going on any of this? I can’t do much with the creative process but I can help with the technical side and getting you started. Normally I wouldn’t offer but the issue is just that important and we really don’t have any time to spare. Remember public comments are due by May 11, 2010 so if you want your social networks to make a difference, now is the time to do so.