Getting the most out of your social media

Social Media, Part 2

January 28, 2021

Navigating the world of social media is no picnic. And with new social networking platforms being developed, and familiar ones constantly being updated, it can be hard to keep up or figure out where to even begin.

To bring some clarity to the chaos, we connected with Michele Late, APHA’s deputy director of communications, for some insight on the most effective ways your community can use social media to cultivate new and existing connections. 

The first thing to remember about your social media journey: You do not need to be a social media superstar to reach and engage with partners and community members online!

While APHA’s social media accounts reach over 1 million people, Late emphasized that zeroing in on who you're trying to reach and which social media platforms they’re using is far more impactful than having a large number of followers.

“One of the most important things to know is who your target audience is and where they are,” Late said. “If they aren’t on the platform you’re using, then your message is not going to work. You don’t have to be using every social media platform as long as you are using the right ones.”

Instead of trying to manage multiple Twitter accounts, a Facebook page and a Pinterest board, try focusing on the platforms that your target audience is most actively using. Late recommends using data from the Pew Research Center to help you find out who is on specific social media platforms. You can find information by gender, race and ethnicity, age range, education and even geographic location. You can then use that information to optimize your social media messages.

While using the right social media platform is key, another fundamental component of social media engagement is crafting partnerships with other organizations.

“Follow a partner that is really actively engaged in the community you want to reach,” Late said. “Comment on their posts, repost their posts and send them messages asking them to reshare your content.”

She emphasized that making alliances with organizations that can share your social media content can connect you to your intended audiences and beyond. Not only does this expand the reach of your initiative, but it can also diversify interests in your project.

How do you know that your content isn’t just floating around in cyberspace? Built-in analytic tools on Twitter or Facebook can help you understand your users and the reach of your content. Yet success isn’t measured solely through numbers.

“Evaluating success really depends on your end goal,” Late said. “It's not just about followers, likes or retweets. For example, if you are trying to get more people to go to your farmers market, then you might measure your project’s success by observing an uptick in the attendance at your market after a social media marketing campaign.”

Ironically enough, one thing many of us struggle with on social media is being social. You could have the most intricate and robust communications strategy, but if you're not engaging with your followers, then your social media content is never going to be more than just words on a screen.

“Don't be a bulletin board, and make sure to make connections,” Late emphasized. “If someone makes a nice comment, give them a thumbs up or retweet it. Follow them if you already aren’t and send them a direct message if you want to engage further.”

Late’s biggest social media tip for Challenge project teams: Make your social media personal. To engage community members online, share content that connects them.

“If you just throw out a bunch of statistics, it may not resonate with them,” Late said. “However, if you break down the information you're sharing to show how it affects people in your community, have a local spokesperson who can speak about the issue, etc., it makes it personal.”

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