Shortly before the Egyptian revolution, the members of the ‘We are all Khaled Said’ Facebook group took photos of themselves holding up signs that read ‘I am Khaled Said’ and posted them to the group’s wall for their fellow members to see. About a week before Occupy Wall Street’s occupation of Zuccotti Park began, the ‘We Are the 99 Percent‘ Tumblr began posting photos of Americans under economic stress holding up signs that gave their stories of hardship and ended with the sentence, “I am the 99%.”
Now, on the one-year anniversary of the beginning of the Syrian revolution, a Facebook page titled #SyriaMarch15 has launched the ‘Unite for Syria’ campaign, in which people all over the world are encouraged to send in a photo of themselves holding up signs that read ‘Unite for Syria’, in hopes of raising awareness of the bloodshed in Syria and of reaching a unified international response to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
The campaign is backed by a coalition of activists, celebrities and some 2 NGOs from 27 countries. The celebrities involved in the movement include Susan Sarandon, Nelly Furtado and Natalie Portman.
The Facebook group, just launched today, has reached over 1, members and is already buzzing with activity — members are uploading photos of themselves with signs reading, often in their own language, ‘Unite for Syria’, people are ‘liking’ photos and providing fortifying comments to one another.
This type of campaign can be highly effective in galvanizing and mobilizing members of a movement. Google executive Wael Ghonim realized this when, as the administrator for ‘We are all Khaled Said’ (the Facebook group famous for acting as a central online forum for the Egyptian Revolution), he encouraged group members to upload photos of themselves holding signs that read ‘I am Khaled Said’. Ghonim approached his movement from a marketing perspective, using the ‘sales funnel’ approach to get group members excited and start mobilizing the movement on their own.
It will be interesting to see what a high-profile, organized campaign like Unite for Syria will succeed in accomplishing.