Social Media Tips

In order to inspire advocacy for program expansion for Head Start and Early Head Start, you need to raise awareness and educate audiences about the importance of these programs. Fortunately, social media platforms allow you to share your message with a wider audience than traditional door-to-door grassroots work can. With a few clicks, you can access the right people at the right moment, make them aware of the issue and garner their support. The following tips will help you do just that: extend your community of advocates online to create an even bigger groundswell of support for the cause. National experts may already have sample resources you can model after or tailor for use in your campaign.

Using Images and Videos

Posts with multimedia, such as videos and images, drive higher engagement rates and increased reach—people are more likely to click posts with images and videos. Below is a quick overview of how you can best put multimedia to use through social media:

Images

  • Choose a diverse range of people. It’s important that different groups see people that look like themselves in the images you use.
  • Only use content you own. If your organization has an existing photo library, search to see if anything can be repurposed. Getty Images offers free, non-commercial use of any of its stock images on social media and blog sites when you use its embed feature.
  • Ask your advocates to sign release forms. Photos of real-life advocates are always ideal. Just remember that anyone you spotlight online—whether in stories, photos, or videos—must sign an authorization release form. Ask your organization for the appropriate forms.
  • Repurpose print materials online. The postcard, flyer, and fact sheet included in this toolkit can easily be posted or linked to on Facebook and Twitter.
    • The postcard is especially useful as a featured image to supplement your Facebook posts.
    • Invite advocates to print the flyer and post it at work or around their neighborhood.
    • Save a PDF of the fact sheet and link to it from your post, inviting advocates to read and learn more or share it with friends and family.

Videos

  • Highlight your advocates. If you have access to a video camera or even a smartphone, consider creating a video of advocate stories. Ask your advocates to talk about their role in the campaign and why they support programs that help kids live healthier lives. Be sure to produce videos in appropriate languages spoken in the community.
    • Stories of real-life advocates can be one of the most effective measures for swaying decision makers, because they represent actual constituents’ opinions on the policies you care about.
    • You can greatly improve smartphone video with a few simple steps. Always hold your smartphone horizontally, shoot in brightly lit areas, and try for the best audio possible. You can improve the audio quality greatly with inexpensive microphones you can easily buy online.
  • Create mini-documentaries. For example, a short film highlighting the story of low income families whose children benefitted from the educational, nutritional, health and social services of Head Start and Early Head Start. Keep in mind that the most viewed and shared videos are less than 90 seconds – if you can get the video down to 30 seconds or less, even better!

Facebook and Twitter

Facebook and Twitter can be excellent channels to engage your existing advocates and recruit new ones, especially if you already have an established presence.

Below are a few tips for spreading the word on these channels:

  • Use your existing accounts. Do not create new pages just for this issue. This way, when new people “like” or “follow” your page because of this issue, they will also stay in the loop on your other initiatives.
  • Recruit new members right from Facebook. Consider creating a registration app on your page so users can sign up to be a part of the effort without even leaving Facebook. You can point potential advocates to the registration app through Facebook ads and posts on your wall.
  • Highlight key posts by pinning them to the top of your pages. Select the drop-down arrow on the right-hand corner of your post and choose to pin it to the top of your page if you’d like to call attention to it for a certain period of time.
  • Use images to help advocates identify with your cause. The postcard in this toolkit can be repurposed to create an image advocates can use on their own profiles. Consider using the front side of the postcard to do the following:
    • Make the postcard your cover photo on both Facebook and Twitter.
    • Encourage advocates to make the postcard their cover photo as well. The advocates’ friends will see the images on their profiles, helping to raise awareness about the issue. Make sure to give advocates a caption to go with their post telling viewers to go to your site to help.
  • Share the message with decision makers. Many states’ decision makers have a social media presence, making it an effective way for them to hear from advocates.
    • For example, you can encourage advocates tag their decision makers in posts, however some decision makers may have set their privacy to restrict this. A post that tags a legislator should be considered a direct communication to that legislator, so it will be lobbying if it reflects a view on specific legislation. A post that does not tag a legislator is considered public communication and will be lobbying only if it reflects a view on specific legislation and it includes a call-to-action. Note that if a social media post constitutes lobbying, the staff time related to writing the post is attributable to lobbying, however small the cost of that staff time may be.
  • Ask advocates for a response.
    • Create posts that encourage advocates to interact.
    • Ask questions.
    • Keep them accountable.
  • Highlight partners. There may be other community organizations working on the same or related issues. Consider working with them to highlight each other’s work in Facebook posts. That way, your mention will show up on their channels (and vice versa), giving you leverage to reach their community for recruitment purposes.
  • Take online actions offline. There are many creative ways to share several items in this toolkit—the poster, flyer, fact sheet, etc.—and encourage people to distribute them in their communities.
    • Ask advocates to print the flyers and hand them out at events in their town or post them on community message bulletin boards in parks, libraries, or coffee shops. Bring the action back online by asking advocates to post a picture of themselves putting up the flyers.
    • Post the decision maker fact sheet on your Facebook page or in a pinned tweet so that it is available to advocates for use in their own meetings with decision makers. Moreover, of course, ask them to come back to the pages to report on what they are doing and how their own meetings went.

Facebook Ad Campaigns

  • Promote your posts. Promoted posts take highlighted posts one step further by elevating them in your target audience’s newsfeeds. The barrier cost to entry for promoted posts is low and their benefits are far-reaching. In this toolkit, we have provided a suggested image for a promoted post. Use the image and then assign corresponding text to it.
    • Facebook ads are sold on a cost-per-thousand impression (CPM) basis, meaning your budget will dictate how many people you can reach with your promoted posts. You will have the option to elevate your post in your fans’ newsfeeds or in both their newsfeeds and their friends’ newsfeeds. You can also extend your reach beyond your fans and your fans’ friends through a wide range of demographic, interest and behavior targeting.
  • Learn how to “Boost” posts from your Facebook page by following the instructions located here.
  • Learn how to set up an ad campaign through Facebook Business Manager by following the instructions located here.
  • When promoting posts with images, ensure that any text on the image does not take up more than 20% of the image. Posts with more than 20% of text on the image may be served to fewer users or may not be able to be promoted at all. Use Facebook’s image check tool to test images with text before using them in a promoted post.
  • In 2018, Facebook instituted their political/issues ad transparency requirement. Ads might be flagged as political/issues ads if the platforms decide the content we promote is related to issues of national importance. If ads are flagged, this means that ads will need to include a “paid for by” disclaimer, will be listed in a publicly searchable, four year rolling archive (here) that will list details including budget range, estimated ad impressions, estimated money spent and audience information including age, gender and location of the users actually reached by the ad, but not the specific targeting parameters themselves. Interest and behavioral targeting information will not be made available on the archive though Facebook is continuously updating and removing some interest, behavior and demographic targeting parameters.

Key Takeaways

  • Social media can be a powerful way to share your message with a broader, more diverse audience.
  • People respond well to posts with multimedia, so try to include images and video you own whenever possible.
  • Use social media to encourage advocates to interact on social media channels and to support your offline activities.
  • A small investment in paid advertising, like Facebook ads, can make a big difference for your campaign.

Related Resources