Social Media 101: Getting Started with Facebook and Twitter
In today’s increasingly connected world, it’s hard to ignore social media. It’s changed the way we interact with friends, choose products to buy, learn about community events, and even order food. Naturally, since social media are such a large part of everyone’s lives, it makes sense that AAUW should have a strong presence online.
Social media offer a whole toolbox for reaching goals, including helping your branch communicate with members, foster relationships with community partners, recruit new members, interact with other AAUW branches and AAUW national, and keep up with everything that is going on in our fight for equality for women and girls.
This guide is meant as Social Media 101; it explains the basics, makes a case for why your AAUW branch should use social media, and then discusses how to get started. (See our How to Use Social Media 201 guide to learn more about social media strategy and tips for using social media effectively.)
What Are Social Media?
For our purposes, social media refer to large, online websites or platforms where people interact, discuss, and become informed. Social media are especially valuable for building relationships across geographic distance; social media help people work together to make their individual voices a strong, collective whole.
While AAUW branches and states primarily use Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, there are other social media platforms that can be used, including LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest. If you would like to see what those platforms look like, take a look at AAUW’s social media:
This guide explores Facebook and Twitter in depth, since those are the tools that AAUW members use most often. LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, and other platforms have their own advantages and disadvantages. If you have questions about a platform not covered in this guide, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why Should AAUW Branches Use Social Media?
It’s likely that you already use social media to stay in touch with family and friends. For the very same reasons you use social media like Facebook for your personal life, social media serve as invaluable tools for your branch.
Here’s how social media will help your branch.
- Engage: Grow your branch’s membership by engaging with your local community, including donors, potential members, college women, partner organizations, and more.
- Excite: Maintain a captivated audience and drive attention to your branch’s work (and traffic to your branch website) by sharing news, events, and information.
- Educate: Position your branch as a go-to resource for issues affecting women and girls, especially in your community.
- Evangelize: A consistent and strong online presence will create loyal followers and supports who will not only share your posts but also become members and donors.
Are you ready to seal the deal? Let’s get your branch on the social media map.
Creating Your Facebook Page
By far, Facebook is the most common social media tool that our branches use. Creating a Facebook page is fairly simple. To get started, you’ll need a computer, smart phone, or tablet that is connected to the internet as well as either 1) A current personal Facebook account; or 2) A personal, active e-mail address.
If you already have a personal Facebook account: Follow this guide for setting up a page. If you’re concerned about tying your personal Facebook account to your branch’s page, rest assured that the public will not be able to see your personal account through the branch Facebook page.
If you don’t already have a personal Facebook account: Facebook has a great help center that details how to start an account using your personal e-mail address.
If you want to see what the process looks like, Mashable has an excellent guide that shows you what to expect. Read the FAQ below for more on setting up your branch Facebook page, including important notes on locating and uploading your branch’s logo as your profile image.
Establishing “Page Roles” for individuals who will run your branch’s Facebook Page.
- As the creator of the Page, you are automatically the moderator, and you can assign other people roles on the Page at any time. (While anyone who likes your Page can post on your wall, only those users assigned as Page “admins” can manage all aspects of the Page, including posting to the Page as your branch, sending messages, creating ads, and adding additional users as Page admins or related roles.)
- It’s a good practice to have at least one additional administrator for your page. Many branches find it useful to assign multiple branch members as Page admins, so that members can share the duties of posting content and monitoring the Page. The different roles are outlined here, although you’ll probably only ever need to assign other branch members to be moderators or administrators.
If you don’t have time to finish all of this in one sitting, don’t worry. You will be able to go back and edit or add to your page at any time. After your page is complete, or at least good enough for now, you can begin to invite your branch members to like the page by either using Facebook’s invite tool or by sending them the web address (URL). When letting your branch members know about your Facebook Page, we recommend that you encourage them to turn on “notifications” for when your branch Page shares content, so that they can be sure not to miss a beat.
All of this may sound a bit complicated, but don’t worry. Facebook is made to be user-friendly and intuitive and has an excellent and extensive help section. Additionally, the AAUW social media team is always here to help.
Is my branch Facebook page considered a “company, organization, or institution” or a “cause or community”?
Choose “company, organization, or institution.”
What kind of “company, organization, or institution” are we considered?
A nonprofit organization.
How should we name our branch Facebook page?
All branches should follow this naming format: AAUW McLean Area (VA) Branch. Try to make your name as close to the suggested format as possible. This will help make AAUW branch pages more searchable while showing the local presence and national reach of AAUW.
How do I get a logo for my branch Facebook page? Should I make my own?
Don’t worry about making your own logo — we’ll do that for you. All you have to do is follow the directions in our AAUW Branding Tool Kit (you have to use your AAUW member login to access it). By the end of the process, your branch will have its very own version of the AAUW logo to use on all online publications and websites.
Some of our branch members don’t use Facebook, but we still want them to see what we talk about. Can they see the page?
Anyone can view a public page, even if they aren’t on Facebook. Simply send them to the web address of your Facebook page.
Is there anyone at AAUW national whom I should notify if my branch makes a Facebook Page?
Please e-mail email@example.com so that we can follow and support all of the great work that you do!
Why should we create a Facebook Page rather than a Group? I’m not sure we want the public to see all that we do.
Facebook Pages and Facebook Groups have key differences. Facebook Groups are a space for small group communication. Facebook Pages are for communicating with larger, public audiences. While some branches choose to operate both, a Facebook Page is invaluable in helping your branch reach new audiences and attract new members. Your branch can effectively run a Facebook Group to meet the goal of fostering internal conversation among active members and a Facebook Page to help spread the word about your branch programming to outside audiences.
What about Twitter?
While many AAUW branches use Facebook, less branches tend to use Twitter. We recommend that branches first master running a Facebook Page before exploring Twitter, as Twitter can be more time-consuming. An effective Twitter account is sustained through consistent conversation and engagement with other Twitter accounts. So while a Facebook Page only needs to be updated a few times a week to stay healthy and valuable, a Twitter account should usually be active at least multiple times a day. After all, the typical life cycle of a single tweet (or message) is only about an hour.
Why might your branch decide to use Twitter? The platform has a very fast conversation pace and allows users to easily access discussions through the use of hashtags, which is why Twitter has become a favorite tool of political organizations and grassroots advocacy groups. Twitter is also useful whenever you want to transcribe quotes from speakers or events online (this is known as live-tweeting), reach out to partner or community groups about your branch’s events or programming, pitch journalists or media outlets, or host online discussions called tweet chats. These chats are frequently used by groups (including AAUW) to help raise awareness about an issue.
How to Foster Conversation on Social Media
Once you’ve established a presence on social media, your next step is to keep the accounts active and growing. It’s important, of course, that you avoid the Page falling dormant, lest it appear that your branch is defunct or inactive. Make sure that the content you post is interesting and relevant to your followers. You may want to start by asking your branch’s members, either online or face to face, what they want to see. Here are some ideas to get you started.
- Reminders or announcements about meetings or events
- News and community events that may interest branch members
- Updates on AAUW’s policy work
- The latest posts from AAUW’s blog
- Content from AAUW’s Facebook or Twitter pages
- High-quality photographs of AAUW members or events, or any images from AAUW’s Facebook Photo Album.
- Videos from AAUW events
- News related to AAUW’s core issues
From your branch Page, be sure to “like” the AAUW national and AAUW Action Fund’s Facebook Pages as well as the Pages of other AAUW branches partner organizations. You should also turn on “notifications” for when AAUW posts to Facebook, so that you can easily reshare AAUW’s content. To find AAUW branches that are on Facebook, visit AAUW national’s Facebook page and view the organizations that we like. To find AAUW accounts on Twitter, check out this handy list of AAUW departments, branches, and staff on Twitter.
Aside from AAUW’s website and social media outlets, there are plenty of places to find interesting stories and links to post on your social media accounts. You can always follow news websites, local community groups, other women’s organizations, feminist blogs, or thought leaders in the women’s rights community for a good sense of the stories that are popular.
Social media is a conversation, not a monologue. Social media is only effective if you consistently engage and interact with users and other Pages and accounts. Be sure to actively respond to comments, posts, and messages directed to your account. It’s also helpful to actively interact with social media posts made by partner organizations or related groups, including liking, commenting on, and sharing their posts. These interactions help increase your branch’s online visibility while also helping to foster relationships with both your followers and other groups.
Of course, there’s content with which AAUW-affiliated social media accounts should not interact. Please keep these suggestions in mind as you choose content for your social media.
Do not post
- Anything endorsing a political party or political candidate. AAUW is legally nonpartisan and cannot support or endorse any candidate or party.
- Anything that could be offensive on the basis of race, creed, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, religion, disability, age, or any similar grounds.
- Anything that is not in line with AAUW’s mission.
Have questions? Read our “Political v. Partisan” guide to AAUW Advocacy Actions.
Social Media FAQs
Can we post pictures of minors (such as scholarship recipients or camp attendees) on our social media?
It is always good to have a photo release form to ensure that you have permission from the person in the photo and, in the case of a minor, from her or his parents or guardians. Even when you have the required permissions, you should always be prepared to promptly take a photo down if the subject asks you to.
I don’t have time to keep a Facebook or Twitter account active. Are there tools that make this easier?
There are shortcuts you can take. For example, you can use AAUW’s RSS feed, which automatically updates your branch Facebook Page with AAUW blog posts and major updates. You may be asked to grant “missing permissions” for the tool to access Facebook — this is normal and necessary for the tool to function properly. Facebook itself also has a tool that lets you schedule posts ahead of time. If you are too busy during weekdays, you may consider scheduling a week’s worth of posts on the preceding weekend. For Twitter, Hootsuite, TweetDeck, and other websites allow you to schedule tweets ahead of time.
What’s the best way to use our AAUW social media account for advocacy?
This guide can help you make your social media more successful while also advocating for the causes we champion.
There is no shortage of online resources to help you create and maintain your social media presence. Check out blogs like Social Media Today, Mashable, Social Media Examiner, or the following AAUW resources.
Use this guide to take the next steps with social media! Raise your branch’s visibility, gain new members, and influence important community stakeholders..
Use this tool to automatically post ready-made content directly to your Facebook on a daily basis without having to worry about crafting the posts yourself.
Organizers are supporting members as they coordinate community activities around public policy issues.