Ethos, Pathos, Logos, and Twitos

In the age of Web 2.0, how do you create real change through activism with Social Media? Many try, some get retweeted, some get shared, some get small amounts of donations, but how many actually accomplish their goals?

In the past, in order to rouse a crowd to action with a persuasive speech, one must employee the elements of Ethos, Logos, and Pathos, essentially: Ethics, Logic, and Emotion. But how does this apply to social media? I would like to promote the equation:

Ethos/Logos/Pathos+USP(Unique Selling Point) = Social Action.

Essentially, one must find a way to sell their message to their audience in order for them to interact with it and then respond in a way that benefits your campaign. Here are few examples of success that combined these elements:

Ethos+USP=KONY 2012

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This video became massively viral and received millions of views, despite it’s nearly 30 minute length. This single viral video was able to earn 26.5 million dollars to their cause by appealing to the ethical obligation of us all.

Logos+USP=Wikipedia Donations

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This campaign comes around once a year, and uses logic to appeal to users of Wikipedia to keep their valued website up-and-running through donations. Needless to say, the non-profit website is still successful. The unique selling point here is the value and need of Wikipedia in the lives on online users.

Pathos+USP=Karen Klein

Most often campaigns fall short by simply appealing to one’s emotions; however, Karen Klein, the bullied bus monitor, received over $600 thousand in online donations after her video was posted to YouTube. Her unique selling point? In-your-face display of cruelty and innocence.

So how do you see a difference in people “sharing” your campaign through social media, and people “participating” in it? Ethos/Logos/Pathos+USP = Social Action. They must do more than judge, think, or feel you have a good campaign; they must be sold on it.



The McCourt Code of Ethics for Social Media

With everyone from your grandma to your grocer on social media, it has become necessary to create a universally accepted Code of  Ethics that can be adopted by all social media websites. With that, I recommend adopting The McCourt Code of Ethics for Social Media. This simple 3-step code is designed to cover the vast amount of ethical issues that stem from social media abuse.

The McCourt Code of Ethics for Social Media

1.) Information and photos of others must not be published without their consent. 

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  • This is the most important tenant of the code, because it seems that most ethical violations are centered around exposures of information. Whether it’s an email that gets leaked on or a revealing photograph that is posted to, users and non-users alike need to have the right to protect their private information.

2.) Harassment, obscenity, and/or cyber-bullying will not be tolerated.\

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  • This tenant is necessary because a great deal of communication now takes place through social media, and with that comes the negative forms of communication. Harassment of another, obscene postings, or behavior that can be classified as cyber-bullying must be clearly prohibited, audited, and met with real consequences.

3.) Profiles and/or posts cannot be purposefully deceptive.

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  • This tenant stems from the ethical issues surrounding deceptive activities such as the creation of fake profiles or spreading of false information. Blogs, profiles, and posts cannot be used to willfully deceive. You cannot blog on behalf of another, you cannot create a profile to benefit your organization unless the connection is made public, and you cannot knowingly post falsehoods that can be misinterpreted as fact.