Elly Badcock provides some basic tips on using Social Media sites to help promote revolutionary socialist ideas and organisation.


Lenin said that a newspaper, to a revolutionary organisation, is like scaffolding to a building; it’s the platform which helps us to construct it.

As 21st-century Leninists we understand that the format of this ‘scaffolding’ can change – we don’t necessarily need a printed, paid-for paper to be the basis of our organising, but instead can utilise new online technologies; that’s why Counterfire bases our organising around the website Counterfire.org.

This form of organising, undoubtedly, is new, exciting and a welcome relief from selling papers in the rain. But in the same way that we might use the front page of a newspaper to spark off a fiery political discussion, or a debate about tactics, we have to use the website to actively build our organisation.

Below is a simple ‘how-to’ guide for activists new to social networking; if every member was actively involved in writing, distributing and disseminating content from the website, then our hits and our membership would swell drastically.


Social networking sites like Facebook have played a substantial role in political organisation in recent years; a cursory glance at the recent student protests, where Facebook events managed to reach thousands of FE students and guest lists for demonstrations frequently reached up to 30,000, tells us this. There’s a hunger for politics online, and if we target our online presence properly, we can tackle it.

Re-posting articles

The advantage of social networking sites is that you can share, within seconds, articles, videos and pictures with potentially thousands of people.

The temptation here is to simply paste the URL into the ‘link’ button at the top of the page:


Time saving, but ultimately time-wasting if you don’t answer Facebook’s eternal question: What’s on your mind? Even a sentence in this bar about why you like the article, what its relevance may be in the current situation, interesting questions it raises and so on will draw your friends to it in a way that simply reposting won’t.

If you’ve got more than two minutes (and given that Facebook is essentially a time-eating black hole, I’d wager you do), then posting articles to individual friend’s walls is invaluable. The trick here is to make these posts targeted and relevant. Anyone who has sold a paper before will be familiar with the basic format; find out what someone’s political interests are. Show them a relevant article. Engage in a political discussion with them. In this respect, a website is no different. For example, this is a friend who was really involved with the SOAS occupation, and feeling demoralised about the next steps of the student movement;

Or you can be a bit more cheeky;


The crucial thing to remember is that, although no-one will admit to it, we all spend inordinate amounts of time clicking through other people’s profiles (like I said, time-eating black hole). If you post something interesting to a friend’s wall, they’re certainly not the only one who’ll read it, and chances are they’ll have friends with similar interests.

In a similar vein, tagging people when you post a link means it’ll show up on their page too. If you’re friends with someone like Clare Solomon, who at last count had a staggering 3,581 Facebook friends, this can be invaluable.


Used properly, a well-directed Facebook post is as useful, productive and necessary as asking someone to buy a copy of a paper, or subscribe to a journal.


Read any coverage of the Green Movement in Iran, watch the UKUncut flashmobs outside Oxford Street, or laugh at iPhone users bumping into lampposts in a failed attempt to walk and tweet, and you’ll see how Twitter is becoming a useful and important tool, for co-ordination and agitation as well as social communication.

With a 140-character limit, Twitter facilitates instantaneous conversation and commentary (and is a source of endless frustration, as your tweet will invariably be 143 characters long every time).


Counterfire has an automatic Twitter feed set up; anything on the website is immediately tweeted out from the account @counterfireorg. It’s imperative that articles are widely retweeted; every article on the site has a green ‘retweet’ button at the top. As with Facebook, simply pushing the button won’t get you too far. Adding a short comment, or tagging a friend (by placing an @ before their username, which makes your tweet appear in their feed), pushes the article into people’s attention span in a serious way, like the example below;



Hashtags are, essentially, virtual sorting categories; click on one and it’ll take you to every tweet in the whole wide world of Twitterland that includes it.

Many hashtags reside in the land of massively useless internet-based gossip; for example #xfactor, to provide a running commentary on a dying TV show. However, they’ve also been hugely practical in the past month; #demo2010 has provided commentary on and advertised events to the student movement, as well as helping people on demonstrations avoid the police (by tweeting, for example, “police on left hand side of Oxford Circus, head back other way #demo2010”.

The best way to make use of hashtags is to look at what’s ‘trending’; that is, what the most popular hashtags are at the time. If possible, try and use one in your tweet; that way potentially thousands of people will see it.

Writing content

Of course, all these tips are useless if we don’t have a steady flow of news, opinion and theory coming in to the site to repost and retweet. The advantage of a website is that we can respond to events immediately, and articles don’t need to be long or laboured over; if you’ve got an interesting snippet of news, then a few snappy paragraphs is fantastic. We can also use different formats like video, so if you’re at a demonstration, use your camera phone to send in an interview with a fellow protestor or an inspiring picture. Any type of content is welcome, whether it’s a video report from a picket line or a Marxist analysis of waitressing; get writing, get filming and get contributing!