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.



Social Media: A Digital Subtext in Every Conversation


Last weekend, as I was browsing the aisles of my local grocery store, I overheard a conversation between two women who had coincidentally bumped into each other. Since I was in the middle of a conundrum of whether low-sodium or organic ketchup would be best for me I happened to overhear most of their conversation. These two women gossiped as if their tongues would dry up and wither away if they didn’t keep flapping. From the fashion-disaster that a mutual friend was caught wearing to a dinner party to the nasty divorce that another friend was going through.

As I half-heartily continued to listen to their half-interesting conversation (clearly having nothing better to do with my time), I began to pick up on a conversational trend. All the information they were discussing was coming from one source: Facebook. The fashion nightmare: those were tagged pictures that appeared on a news feed. That nasty divorce: Susie Q (or whoever) went from being “Married” to “Single.” Every subject they breached had its roots in social media, and as I snapped out of my voyeuristic coma, I was left with one impression: Facebook has changed human interaction forever.

“Wait. She posted what to your wall?”

“Are you serious? He unfriended you because of that?”

“I’m going to check-us-in here, is that okay?”

Digital communication and social media have assuredly changed how we communicate. The pressure to be social has never been so high, and face-to-face interaction is no longer enough for us. Upon meeting someone socially, a Facebook “friend request” has become standard, and not abiding by this (and other digital-standards) can lead to various social ramifications. I’ve had friends become upset with me because I did not “like” certain pictures they posted or I forgot to post to their wall on their birthday. I’ve seen friendships start and stop on my news-feed, and I’ve often been out to dinner with friends where there is a moment when we are all sitting in silence, staring down at our iPhones.


No matter whether you feel this necessity for digital communication through social media is constructive or not, denying its existence will not make it go away. Face-to-face communication will be forever laced with a digital subtext, and just like those two women in the grocery store, if you are not connected through social media, you may find yourself with nothing else to say.