Which Social Media Should You Use?
If you’re organizing people online (or offline), you’re probably thinking about how you can use social media. And for good reason—billions of people are on Facebook, and with millions more on Twitter, that means that the people you’re trying to reach are probably on social media.
But there are lots of social media sites out there, so how should you decide which to prioritize?
To answer that question, look at your campaign. What are your goals? When you are clear on what you’re working towards, you can start to think about what tools you need to win.
Top Social Media for Organizing
It might be tempting to want to be on every social media platform, but you have limited time and resources, so focus on what will help your campaign the most. Facebook and Twitter are two of the biggest social media tools to consider. Facebook is a great tool to connect with people that you already know, get visibility inside your circle, and recruit supporters. Twitter is a great tool for connecting with people that you don’t know, getting visibility outside your circle, and getting media.
It’s likely that people in the community you’re organizing use Facebook to keep in touch with friends, read news, follow topics they’re interested in, and learn about upcoming events. Facebook can be a powerful tool for organizing, too. Facebook can be used to:
- Connect with people you know
- Get visibility in your community
- Influence targets
- Recruit supporters to come to events
- Strengthen your group with online conversation
Should you be on Facebook? Ask yourself:
- Are your priority decision-makers on Facebook?
- Are people in the community you’re organizing on Facebook? (Not sure? See research on the breakdown by age, race, income, education, gender, and the difference between rural, urban, and suburban communities.)
- Would visibility on Facebook benefit your group?
- Would online conversation between members of your group strengthen your work?
- Who in your group has the capacity to manage Facebook?
Choosing the Right Facebook Account
When you’re setting up a Facebook account, you have the choice between a Page or Group. The type of Facebook account you should choose depends on what you want to do with it. This flowchart can help you decide.
On a page, only people who are given access can post. People must “like” your page to see your posts. With a page, you can tag your targets and create events. You can also run paid ads to reach more people or make sure more of your supporters see your post. Everything is public. A page is good for visibility, pressuring targets, and recruiting supporters.
Protect South Portland, a community group that has won impressive campaigns against ExxonMobil and for organic land care in South Portland, Maine, has a great Facebook page. See their page.
In a group, anyone who has joined the group can post, and only people who are in the group will see the posts. Groups are good for connecting with people you know, getting visibility within the group, and strengthening your group, as people in the group can engage in conversation with each other. Note: You can make your group Public, Private/Closed, or Secret. Use this infographic to decide which one to use.
Twitter is a widely used platform for news, updates, commentary and more. In organizing, Twitter can be used to connect with reporters, pressure targets and connect your campaign to a bigger coalition, network or movement. Twitter can be used to:
- Connect with people you don’t know
- Get visibility in the wider movement
- Pressure targets
- Get media attention
Should you be on Twitter? Ask yourself:
- Are your priority decision-makers on Twitter?
- Are people in the community you’re organizing on Twitter? (Not sure? See research and decide for yourself.)
- How would the visibility you could get on Twitter benefit your group?
- Are you part of a bigger movement, coalition or network that uses Twitter?
- Is press a key part of your strategy?
- Who in your group has the capacity to manage Twitter?
Pitfalls to Avoid
- Getting into online arguments. Sometimes it happens that “trolls” comment on your posts with inflammatory statements. Even while this can be frustrating, it’s best to avoid a long, in-depth argument. Instead, you should think about the tone you want to strike, which is likely positive and recruiting, and reply with a simple comment and leave it at that. Your audience is not the “troll” who made the inflammatory comment, but rather the people who will see your response. If you have a group where anyone can post, it could be helpful to lay out written guidelines in the group description to establish what types of posts will be considered inflammatory and be deleted by the moderator.
- Not establishing a point person for social media. You want to make sure that at least one person is responsible for a given social media account. It’s possible to have 1-3 others who want to help create posts, but one person should be in charge of making sure that happens. Also remember that your personal online personna is different than your group’s online personna, so make sure everyone who is posting is using the right messaging and tone.
- Spending too much time on social media instead of organizing. Remember that all digital organizing should be a complement to your on-the-ground organizing. Around 20% of your campaign should be online, and that means 80% should be offline.
Once you’re set up on Facebook or Twitter, it’s time to use these tools to organize. See the Planning a Social Media Action page for ideas on how to use these tools to build power online.
Still have questions? Get help now!