Australian and New Zealand Communication Association
Faculty of Education and Arts
School of Communication and Arts/Centre for Research in Entertainment, Arts, Technology, Education and Communications
Although livestock welfare issues were once barely visible to mainstream consumers, animal welfare activists now combine traditional public media advocacy with various media platforms to spread their campaign message as widely as possible. For instance, Animals Australia’s ‘Make it Possible Campaign’ has used billboards, print media, television, radio, YouTube, Facebook, blogs, website stories, and Twitter to make livestock welfare issues visible to consumers. Such variety of platforms make it possible for animal activist groups such as Animals Australia to not only hail and mobilise consumers in a way that was not possible previously, but also to attract supporters, advertise their campaigns, and raise awareness of issues in the broader community on a grander scale than in the past. Activists activate multi-platforms as a way of promoting subsequent collective awareness and action, and bringing about both social and legal reform. The focus of this paper is on the mobilising of personal stories uploaded into the ‘My Make it Possible Story’ website. Content analysis of these stories will be overlaid with analysis of the timings of story uploading and their relation to other media activity carried out by Animals Australia will be examined. Attention will also be paid to the occurrence of what we term ‘media spikes’, where these spikes describe significant increases in public engagement with Animals Australia’s re-framing and re-posting of mainstream news items on their various websites, Facebook and Twitter. For instance, the highest number of stories posted in the ‘My Make it Possible Story’ website, on 21 October 2013 (1,065), coincides with several media spikes encompassing multiple media domains. Our examination of Animals Australia’s ‘My Make it Possible Story’ website demonstrates the kind of results activists can achieve using platforms such Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. We make the case that such activation of multiple platforms promotes engagement and participation through facilitating affective communicative investments and exchanges, a form of exchange fundamental, we argue, to the success of calls for social change and the reshaping of citizen and consumer attitudes. This paper is part of a larger project in which we record and analyse how animal welfare issues are conceived, articulated and argued within the public domain.