How to Use Social Media for Advocacy
Social media can have tremendous rewards for your state and branch advocacy efforts if you’re creative and persistent. Common platforms for advocacy include Facebook and Twitter, but new tools (Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram, for example) are unveiled every week. Talk to others about what they’re doing, and see how your efforts can fit into or shape what’s already happening. Social media is a conversation, not a monologue.
Creating Social Media Strategy
The first step in utilizing social media is to create a strategy. Creating a strategy includes:
- Setting your objectives. Is your goal narrow (publicizing an event) or broad (building and engaging with a community or coalition)?
- Identifying the audience you would like to reach. Are you primarily communicating with people who are already familiar with AAUW and your work, such as your members and volunteers? Or are you reaching out to women you’ve identified as potential members and supporters?
- Selecting the social media platforms you plan to focus on. This decision should be guided by your objectives and intended audience. The most well-known and easy-to-use are Facebook and Twitter, so if you only plan to utilize one or two platforms, we recommend focusing on those.
- Gathering resources and materials to share through social media.
- Appointing someone or a team of people to manage your social media presence. Although there are no prerequisites for using social media, individuals with backgrounds in communications, marketing, or public relations can be great assets. You’ll also want to select someone who is comfortable and familiar with technology.
Below are some tips for using Facebook and Twitter for advocacy, followed by some general principles for using any social media site:
- Keep Facebook posts short and conversational, and include an image whenever possible.
- The most effective way to utilize your Facebook account is to post regularly. A general rule to follow could be to post at least one Facebook post a day, but the more you engage your audience, the better off you will be.
- Ask people to share your content through Facebook.
- Make sure the content is branded with an AAUW logo so that we are credited when it is shared.
- Include links on Facebook to direct people back to the state and national AAUW websites.
- Share content from the AAUW Facebook page and AAUW Action Fund Facebook page.
- You can easily create events on your Facebook page and invite your Facebook friends, who can then invite their friends, and so on. Consider creating a Facebook event to advertise events such as your branch meetings, rallies, and lobby days.
- Share links to press releases, images from events, and other information in 140 characters or less.
- Tweet directly to members of the media and bloggers to encourage them to cover your efforts.
- Tweet directly to local organizations that you want to partner with in your efforts or that might be able to help you spread the word.
- Tweet directly to members of Congress with the action you want them to take.
- Use hashtags, such as #AAUW, #fem2, #UseThe19th, or #fairpay, related to what you are trying to publicize.
- Include links to AAUW’s positions on priority issues and to your state website.
- Follow AAUW’s Twitter accounts:
General Principles for Using Social Media
- Be genuine. Let your personality show, use humor, and be transparent about who is posting content. Try not to simply broadcast; rather, when possible, speak as an individual, to individuals. This will help grant you credibility as a trusted source.
- Stay focused. The people and organizations that follow you on social media have certain expectations about the type of content you post and the way in which you engage with them. If you stray too far from your objectives, you will lose the trust and attention of your community.
- Be reliable. Share quality content from trusted sources, and avoid amplifying erroneous messages from unreliable sources. Reliability also means posting to your social media services regularly. Frequently sharing reliable, meaningful content helps establish you as an important source of information and ideas for your community.
- Get social. Above all else, social media is about conversation. Share and comment on other people’s or organizations’ posts to start new conversations, and join in the conversations that are occurring on your social media pages. The more you engage with your followers, the more they will understand that your priorities are their priorities too.
- Social media is a conversation, not a monologue.
- Create a strategy for using social media as part of your advocacy efforts.
- The most effective way to utilize your social media accounts is to post regularly.
- Be genuine. Let the personality of AAUW and your branch show when posting something on social media.
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Resources to guide activists in advocacy efforts.
Organizers are supporting members as they coordinate community activities around public policy issues.