Online and hybrid tactics you can launch during COVID pandemic

Contributor: Weronika Paszewska


COVID and its accompanying physical distance put pressure on all of us to come up with new, creative tactics to reach decision-makers and to increase the visibility of our campaigns. Without the availability of some of our traditional in-person approaches, many campaigners were pushed to find online alternatives. We often hear that coming up with new ideas for actions is not an easy task. Here is a list of tactics to be executed solely online or offline but without putting our supporters at COVID risk. You can also find a hybrid version when there is a part of online activity combined later with an offline presence. It is definitely not a finished list. It is written with the hope that it will inspire you. We’d love to hear what else you’ve seen or other ideas you have. 

Two well-known tactics with a reminder about details that make them successful


A signing a petition tactic is often described as a low-bar action. It is easy for people to do it and often we can get big numbers if we spot the moment for launching it properly. While building our supporters base it is important to move beyond petitions, diversify tactics and propose more engaging ones. Below you can find two tactics for social media. These are very well-knownlthough we often see that there are missing crucial elements to make them successful and impactful.   

Twitter storm - the magic of Twitter is to have actions in the limited, designated time that is aligned well with the strategic moment. By this, you might appear in the trending hashtags and you increase a chance for recognising a cause and your position on it. 

These are a couple of things to keep in mind when executing Twitter actions:

  1. Narrow time to few hours or maximum a day. This gives you perfect urgency to communicate to your supporters. 
  2. Have a really good hashtag (not too general, not too long). Spend a fair amount of time on it. It is worth doing that.
  3. Use one of the digital tools that will allow people to tweet effortlessly with a numerous selection of proposed automated tweets.
  4. Provide step-by-step instructions to your supporters explaining also a theory of change behind this action.
  5. If Twitter is less popular among your supporters, give an alternative call to action for people. It should be something that will be aligned with your strategy of focusing pressure at the same time, i.e. phone calls are very good to make a strong impression on the decision-maker.
  6. Use this opportunity to learn about your supporters - who use and who don’t use Twitter - collect these data in your CRM i.e. based on the clicks into “I do not have Twitter account” button in your blast.

Coordinated social media targeting - To be clear, this goes beyond just personal social media posting. Targeting here means that messages people will be posting must reach decision-makers. We want to reach decision-makers in a public manner, so our pressure is visible to them and to other people and does not get stuck in our supporters’ social bubbles. It gives you an opportunity to raise awareness around a topic, brings potentially new supporters (if you make sure to have a way to connect with them), and show your power to the decision-maker and create an impression of it. 

Things to keep in mind:

  1. Decide on one specific online place that you want to conduct your actions (specific profile or fanpage).
  2. Have a limited time to focus on the pressure that is aligned with your theory of change. 
  3. Provide arguments for your supporters to use in their comments (Facebook and Instagram in contrast to Twitter give you a chance for longer statements).
  4. Collect statements in a visual way to show the reach of your tactic and encourage new people to take action. 
  5. You can amplify the effect of this tactic by combining it with offline tactics like i.e. a billboard.

The variation of this tactic that you might like to try is directed to target media outlets, not decision-makers. You can propose talking points and argumentation to your supporters i.e. by targeted commending under concrete articles. We have seen successful actions that targeted media outlets to write more articles on air pollution or to use more inclusive language.

You can also think about targeting corporations through corporate shaming strategy, targeting influencers to encourage them to step up and take initiative for your cause, or targeting friends to get involved in a cause (often used in election campaigns or as viral campaigns like the ice-bucket challenge).

Let’s get innovative


Online protest - despite COVID pandemia political life goes on and so the reasons for protests (we could say that in these turbulent times, we have even more reasons to go to the streets). An online demonstration is a way to show support for an issue by gathering people in one online place at the same time, just like on regular demonstrations. Things to keep in mind:

  • Set settings of your e-conference tools so all protesters will be seen (i.e multiply, small squares), not only the speakers. Otherwise, it will be just a regular online panel discussion.
  • Ask people to prepare placards and signs and dedicate a few moments when everyone at the same time will be showing them.
  • Have a moment when you unmute everyone and propose chanting. It will give a feeling of the crowd. 
  • Stream your protest on social media. 
  • Inform and invite media also coordinate with the media to do transmission through social media of your stream.
  • Invite decision-makers to answer on-stage questions from protesters. Make sure that it not only will be their promotion event but they will be properly confronted by your demands.
  • Be aware to set up your settings so you will be protected from trolls.

Other social media ideas:

  • Day-long live-stream with plenty of short interviews with people. This is good for a specific symbolic day, like Women’s Day.
  • Coordinated posting of specific content that is either symbolic and deals with taboo topics like domestic violence or that through humor tackles political events. 
  • Tactically choosing a topic and encouraging the specific audiences to post their stories and other people to amplify these voices.

Video projections on buildings - this is an offline tactic and rather difficult to include your supporters into action, although there are some ways to do it. You can i.e. project a number of people who took action or their statements or even their avatars.

Collecting testimonials and publicly showing them - could be shown either offline or online on the dedicated website. We encourage you to invest some coders’ time and build a micro-website that will invite creativity among supporters and allow them to participate by drawing, leaving their picture, video recording etc.

Online blackouts - this tactic is for organisations and can be executed by admins of websites. Although might be combined with encouraging people to set up their profile pictures or profile frames on social media. The other version of this tactic is symbolic changes of logos like WWF did with removing the panda from their logo and encouraging other organisations and companies that have nature in their branding to do the same.

Virtual parties with public advocacy actions:

  • Meeting together, providing instructions, and writing e-mails to decision-makers at the same time.
  • Attending a public meeting and posting questions in a coordinated way to decision-makers to dominate an event with a specific topic. It can also involve fact-checking and commenting on live discrepancies or lies from public figures.
  • Attending a public meeting online and changing profile pictures into the same slogan or symbolic theme.

Public actions with physical distance (COVID safe):

  • Standing in the line to shops with signs, useful in times when due to lockdown there is a limit of people entering a shop and lines are created anyway.
  • Driving cars and blocking an intersection with posters on the windows.
  • Putting poster, symbol or a flag in the windows

Digital ‘Trojan Horsing’ - we love this tactic and think that it is especially smart. It can work only when done in a coordinated way. As an example, you can check to buy actions to get access to share-holding gatherings or booking tickets for a Trump event to create as a result empty space.

We hope that these ideas will support you with brainstorming and coming up with new ideas. The main thing that we would like you to remember about online tactics is that coordination is a crucial part of it. Any of the above actions if are not coordinated will be just a random activity that will not spot anyone’s attention.

Help us add to this list with actions you’ve seen or ideas you have! Join the conversation in the TON community.