The Advocacy Pro’s Guide to Social Media (Part I)
You already know that social media gives you a direct line to your supporters. If advocacy is all about controlling the public conversation, then your social media pages are where that conversation begins and where it draws its energy.
Perhaps you want to publicize an upcoming rally or event. Or enlist the support of volunteers. Or see how your messages perform among your most outspoken supporters. Or maybe you just want to spread your point of view to the widest possible audience.
Whatever your objectives, social media is the key to achieving them—without breaking the bank.
Promote. Promote. Promote.
My award-winning creative and accounts teams helped me put together a list of tips to help you get the most of your online recruiting and messaging efforts. Since Facebook and Twitter are the foundation of a successful program, we’ll focus on these platforms.
Promoted pages, promoted posts and promoted tweets will rack up followers and likes based on criteria like demographics, interests, behaviors and even the devices they use to access social media.
The great thing about social media promotion is that it’s scalable. (Read: That means no matter your advocacy budget, you can afford some level of social media promotion. A few hundred dollars a week can have a huge impact on your campaign.)
The social media advertising process is also designed to be user-friendly. Input your budget, dig into your keywords and—voila!—in a few days, you’ll have a robust network of followers who choose to advance your campaign goals and take part in the conversation.
Promotion will grow your page’s number of followers, but “sticky” content will keep current subscribers coming back.
Think visual impact: Posts with images almost always perform better than words alone in terms of engagement and shares.
A photo from a rally, a picture of a supporter with a quotation on top, a well-designed infographic, or even a shot of a beautiful sunset can work to catch a Facebook or Twitter user’s eye so that they stop to read your message.
Think Cutesy (When Appropriate)
Never underestimate the power of an adorable or goofy animal photo. We use them in our advocacy campaigns all the time. The hard truth is that an animal photo will often perform better than an infographic or shot of a rally. (Many times, these posts perform well even without paying for promotion.)
The point is: Your job is to start a conversation.
Strike a balance in tone that makes sense for your campaign, but feel free to use whatever tools you have in your arsenal to keep people engaged. Social media is a place for recreation and socializing and a little bit of playfulness can go a long way to helping you achieve your goals.
Stay On Top of Trends
The ad guidelines on Facebook and Twitter are in constant flux, and the changes roll out without much in the way of notice. If you want to stay relevant and look fresh to your audience, you have to stay on top of those fluctuations.
A promoted image on Facebook can no longer have lots and lots of text. (In fact, your image can only contain about 20 percent.) In essence, that means Facebook now does with images what Twitter always did with character limits: Forces you to get to the point quickly.
A good rule of thumb for promoted picture posts on Facebook: Post images that are about 540 x 540 pixels.
To be clear: We’re just scraping the surface when it comes to what works on social media. But the point is that if you’re running a public campaign, social media is a crucial element.
By focusing on promotion and long-term audience engagement, you can keep your audience warm and ready to act when a vote, policy fight or election appears.