Social Media 201: Leveraging Social Media to Increase Your Visibility
Social media can have tremendous rewards for your state and branch if you’re creative and persistent. It can help you raise your branch’s visibility, recruit new members and donors, and influence important community stakeholders. Common platforms for advocacy include Facebook and Twitter, but other tools like Instagram 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. Use this guide to create a social media strategy that will launch your branch or state even further into the conversation about women and girl’s empowerment. Social media is a conversation, not a monologue.
Creating Social Media Strategy
The first step in using social media is to create a strategy. Here’s how:
1. Set your objectives. Is your goal narrow (publicizing an event) or broad (building and engaging with a community or coalition)? Clarify the exact call to action that you want to elicit from your campaign.
2. Identify the audience you would like to reach. Who are you speaking to? Who is most likely to be moved by your content? These are important questions to answer, since your message — and the way you tell it — should differ based on your intended audience.
3. Define your message.What story are you telling? Be clear on what kind of values, problems, solutions, and actions are involved.
4. Choose the social media platforms that make the most sense. Different social media platforms have vastly different demographics. For example, Twitter users tend to be more young and urban than Facebook users, and Pinterest users overwhelmingly tend to be women. Decide which platforms to use by thinking about the specific objectives and intended audiences for each of your campaigns or efforts. The most popular social media platforms are Facebook and Twitter, so focus on those if you plan to use only one or two platforms.
5. Create or compile resources and materials to share through social media. Review Social Media 101: Getting Started with Facebook and Twitter for examples of content to share on your outlets. Our events and deadlines calendar — which lists important holidays, commemorative events, and AAUW program deadlines throughout the year — is a must-have resource for ideas for social media content. Across all social media outlets, high-quality photographs and images are critical.
Below are some tips for using Facebook and Twitter for advocacy, followed by some general principles for using any social media site.
Keep it short and sweet — really short! Most Facebook users skim their newsfeeds, so they’re most likely to interact with content that is brief and concise. Facebook Posts of up to just 40 characters — a few words, or a short sentence at most — generate the highest engagement.
Make it visual. Photos and images are overwhelmingly the most engaging type of content on Facebook, generating a whopping 87 percent interaction rate from page followers. Avoid text-only Facebook posts at all costs, and be sure to include an image whenever possible. Remember to snap photos at your events, and don’t forget that you can always reshare photos or images from AAUW’s Facebook Photo Album.
Post regularly. The more you engage with your audience, the better off you will be. Try to post to your branch Facebook Page at two or three times a week, but not more than once a day. To help with the lift, you can assign posting privileges to multiple branch members, and you can use the Facebook scheduling tool to schedule out your content for the week.
Activate your biggest fans. Every time an individual shares, likes, or comments on posts on your branch Facebook page, your page is made visible to that individual’s own Facebook friends. That means potentially hundreds of users — including potential donors and members — see your content! Encourage your branch members to share and like your posts. It’s an easy lift with huge rewards! You can also encourage them to turn on “notifications” to find out whenever there is new content on your branch page, so that they can be sure not to miss a beat.
Brand, brand, brand. Make sure the content you post is branded with an AAUW logo. Branding helps ensure that your branch and AAUW are credited when your content is shared, and it also helps increase AAUW’s visibility and name recognition.
Promote your events and programming. 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. Read more on marketing your programs.
Push traffic to your website. Your website is the hub for all the work you do. Most of the links that you share on social media should be to your own website or AAUW’s website. That way, you’re encouraging users to learn more about your work and to get involved in additional ways. Of course, that also means it’s important to keep your website fresh and up-to-date with events and information!
We recommend that branches first master running a Facebook page before exploring Twitter. For the Social Media 201 crowd, here are ways you can maximize your presence on Twitter.
Use the right hashtags. If you’re not using hashtags, you’re more or less talking to a brick wall. Don’t let that happen! Avoid creating your own hashtags, since it’s incredibly hard to create hashtags that take off. Instead, do some research to identify popular hashtags about AAUW’s mission and your branch’s work. You can also take a look at @AAUW’s Twitter feed to see which hashtags are popular and useful. Key hashtags that @AAUW uses are #EqualPay, #TitleIX #womeninSTEM, #AddWomen, and #LeadHERship. Don’t forget to use local hashtags. For examples, specific hashtags often exist for state and local elections. Jump onto those existing hashtags to amplify your work and message!
Tweet regularly. Don’t appear inactive! It’s best to tweet not more than once every hour. If you’re just starting off, aim to tweet at least once a day, or about five to 10 times a week. The key is not falling dormant. To help with the lift, use a free tool like Hootsuite or TweetDeck that allows you to schedule tweets.
Make it visual. You can get a 150 percent increase in retweets just by attaching images. Try to attach an image to a tweet whenever possible, even if it means shortening your word count. Remember to snap photos at your events, and tweet them live. Don’t forget that you can always reshare photos or images from AAUW’s Facebook Photo Album.
Perform direct outreach to key influencer groups. Social media is all about interaction. If you follow an account, that user will receive a notification and will likely follow you back. Follow, follow, follow! It’s also important to reach out to these accounts directly about your work. The goal, of course, is for them to engage and share your message.
Community collaborators. Tap into the right audiences! Be sure to follow your local community groups (college campuses, high schools, nonprofits, women’s professional groups, etc.), and reach out them with links and information about relevant events and programming. Don’t be shy! It’s highly effective to ask accounts to retweet your links. Retweets help your message reach entirely new networks, so the payoff is invaluable.
Members of the media. Find the Twitter accounts for local journalist and bloggers, and tweet them links to your events, announcements, or press releases. Many journalists list their Twitter handles in their bylines, or you can Google the journalist’s name and the word “Twitter” to find it.
Elected officials. Twitter is a great way to interact directly with elected officials, who are often highly active on the platform. Working on a petition, pushing for legislative action, or looking to thank a politician for her or his vote? Tweet the official with your message! You can also write a sample tweet and encourage your followers to tweet the link or message to the elected official.
Spread the word about your work and programming. Just as with Facebook (and any other social media outlet), you always want to direct users to visit content on your own website or content that is about your branch’s work. Tweet links to your events, announcements, and press releases. You can also tweet articles that mention your branch or quote your members. Tweet links to AAUW’s articles, events, positions on priority issues, and more.
Follow AAUW’s Twitter accounts:
General Principles for Using Social Media
Be genuine. Determine the tone of your messaging. Let your personality show and use humor when appropriate. 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 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.
This guide explains social media basics, makes a case for why your AAUW branch should use social media, and discusses how to get started.
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