Creative ways to use advocacy software that is not creating advocacy campaigns
8 Social Media Advocacy Strategies [+ Major Platform Tips]
Social media advocacy has become the new normal for modern advocacy campaigns. Learn how to take your campaign online with these strategies and platform tips.
Digital advocacy has transformed how modern advocacy campaigns are run. Today, most advocacy campaigns include an online component that includes a social media advocacy strategy. By doing so, these campaigns can extend their reach to tap into new audiences, strengthen their connections with supporters, and spread awareness about their cause to a greater degree than they could through traditional methods alone.
Of course, putting together a social media advocacy strategy requires knowledge of what platforms to use and how to leverage them for your campaign’s goals. Additionally, an effective social media advocacy campaign can become a serious time commitment, so your advocacy organization should be well prepared before launching one.
To help jumpstart your campaign’s research, this guide will walk through the top social media platforms for advocacy groups and strategies you can use to find success:
- Why Your Campaign Should Use Social Media Advocacy
- 4 Social Media Advocacy Platforms You Should Know
- 8 Strategies for Social Media Advocacy
Understanding the advantages and challenges of each social media platform will help you better implement your outreach strategy. Consider your organization’s resources and the resources you have available to invest into your social media campaign. Then, you can select the approach that makes the most sense for your specific campaign.
Why Your Campaign Should Use Social Media Advocacy
Social media has grown from an optional component of modern advocacy campaigns to a major cornerstone of all digital campaigns. Social media can support your advocacy campaign by extending the reach and influence of your mission-critical agenda. Pushing your messaging efficiently online can amplify your grassroots campaign’s public exposure, getting more eyes on your cause.
To help illustrate this trend, our team at Muster has composed this infographic of the top trends in social media advocacy:
4 Social Media Advocacy Platforms You Should Know
Today, there are a wide range of social media platforms to choose from when launching your advocacy campaign. To help your campaign get started, we’ll explore the essentials for four top platforms.
Of these platforms, we will take a deeper look at Facebook specifically as its combination of media, visuals, and community tools makes it particularly advantageous for advocacy campaigns when compared to other social media.
One of the most popular social networking sites, Facebook allows registered users to create “company” profile pages. This allows advocacy groups to create a profile for their organization that your members and other interested parties can “like” and comment on.
Facebook posts provide access to a wide audience, making it an ideal platform for sharing online advocacy messaging. Online advocacy centers can easily be shared on Facebook, allowing advocacy organizations to organically grow their networks.
Facebook also has a few unique features that advocacy groups can use to further their campaigns, including:
Rather than adding all of your posts to one profile, it can sometimes be more effective to create unique pages dedicated to a specific campaign or initiative.
For example, let's say you are working on an advocacy campaign for the hypothetical goal of eliminating sales tax on chocolate chip cookies. Lawmakers need to hear constituent voices supporting this tax reform. Your advocacy group turns to Facebook to spread the word and gain new supporters who can make themselves known to decision-makers.
While your organization already has a pre-existing Facebook page with followers, simply posting about your goals and campaign is unlikely to be enough to gain the traction you need.
Thus, a spin-off page.
People on Facebook are more likely to connect with your organization if they see a single issue or cause that resonates with them.
Creating a new page, separate from your association, gives you more freedom in terms of branding capabilities and is more likely to draw people in than your organization’s standard page. Invite all of your current followers to like the new page and use that as a hub for your Facebook advocacy efforts. This also keeps you from muddying the waters with other posts from your association on your main page.
While organic engagement is essential to a grassroots advocacy campaign, Facebook's advertising options allow you to hone in on potential advocates and make sure they see your campaign with promoted posts.
Why boost a post?
With a promoted post you can get more eyes on your campaign or page at a small cost per impression/engagement. It's important that you promote content with a strong call-to-action that people can or have engaged with. Boosting a post will help you reach new people, combat declining organic traffic, and can ultimately lead to more actions taken on behalf of your campaign.
Promoted posts also allow you to carve out highly targeted audiences. While you can cover the obvious demographics that you want to target (age, location, education), Facebook targeting really shines by being able to target people by interests, connections, and behavior.
This allows you to cultivate a large, but highly targeted audience that you know will have at least some interest in your campaign or content.
It's no secret that video content is king, especially on Facebook, where they report gaining a total of 8 billion views a day with 20% of total videos being live streams.
So how and why should you implement video into your advocacy campaigns? Videos can change up your content, offering a more engaging experience for potential supporters, especially if you're trying to educate them on an issue. With just a 30, 60, or 90 second video, you have the potential to captivate your audience far more than just text or an image can.
Your videos don't need to be a huge production either. All you need is an iPhone and a nice, non-distracting background. The focus should be on you and the content. If possible, try to add captions to your videos as 85% of people watch videos without sound. Doing so will also make your content more accessible to a wider audience.
You can also elevate your campaign by hosting live streams.
Live streams are an incredibly popular way to engage people in the moment. For an association or nonprofit engaging in advocacy you can have a livestream Q&A session about the campaign to educate your supporters and spread awareness.
Twitter is expertly designed to embrace short attention spans and encourage rapid conversation. Tweets allow you to share content quickly, and you can include relevant hashtags to connect your tweet to a larger dialogue happening on the platform.
Twitter can also be an effective tool for sharing your online advocacy center. You can include links and multimedia in your tweets to link to your online advocacy center.
Due to Twitter’s focus on short-form content, this platform is most effective for quick communication between your advocacy campaign and your supporters. Engage them in conversation by replying to their comments on your tweets, make use of interactive features such as polls, and draw attention to long-form content hosted on your website with eye-catching images.
Instagram is a social media photo and video sharing platform. This social networking platform is a great way to share pictures of your campaign’s events and the little things that make your organization relatable to your target audience. Specifically, Instagram allows users to create video “stories” that are a combination of pictures and short clips. For an advocacy group, this feature can help put a friendly face on your organization while giving donors a behind the scene look at your campaign.
Similar to Twitter, Instagram users can include hashtags in the description of their images. Once a hashtag is added to a description, the image will be indexed under that hashtag and will be searchable. When organizations create business accounts on Instagram, they will also have access to analytic features as well as the option to create promoted posts, which can further help market your campaign.
For example, you can get your organization's name out in your community by including your city’s hashtag. In doing so, anyone searching your city’s name as a hashtag will find your images. You might find some new supporters in your local community to participate in your online advocacy this way!
LinkedIn is a social media platform in the professional space. By creating a company profile on LinkedIn, you are able to post updates and articles that anyone who “follows” your organization will be able to see.
Take a look at Muster’s LinkedIn page below. With LinkedIn, you can present your organization in a professional manner with a description of your organization, your logo, details about your operations, and a link to your website to learn more.
Additionally, LinkedIn has several social components. Organizations can post updates that include links to articles, blog posts, and other relevant content. Supporters can also follow your page and get in touch with your organization by directly messaging specific individuals listed as your employees.
8 Strategies for Social Media Advocacy
Once you’ve chosen the platforms you plan to launch your social media advocacy campaign on, you can begin exploring strategies to leverage those platforms. Different strategies are more effective on different platforms, so choose advocacy methods that align with each of your social media account’s natural strengths.
To inspire your campaign, here are eight effective social media advocacy strategies that can find success on most platforms:
1. Develop a Clear End Goal
Define what you are trying to accomplish through your social media advocacy efforts. Is your end goal to acquire new supporters, donors, or advocates? Is your goal to increase online donations? Is your goal to engage more frequently with your members online?
When developing your goal, ensure that you make it specific and quantifiable, so you can clearly determine whether or not you have achieved it.
For example, the goal of “Attracting more advocates through social media” is too generic to provide meaningful value to your organization. By contrast, a goal such as “Use Facebook to increase advocacy event attendance by at least 20%” is specific and easily measured by your organization’s usual reporting tools.
Additionally, set a time frame for your social media advocacy campaign. If your campaign has a specific beginning and end, this will be easy to determine. However, if you are running a series of campaigns, consider stepping back to review your social media advocacy results on a semi-regular basis so you can continually make improvements to your approach.
2. Complete a Profile Audit
Before you can improve your social media presence, you’ll need to take inventory of where you’re starting from. A profile audit is an easy way to ensure that you have the building blocks of a great and highly actionable profile.
First, you will need to ensure that your profile is complete. For example, a Facebook profile should have the following essentials:
- High-quality logo profile picture (320 x 320 pixels)
- High-quality banner picture (720 x 312 pixels)
- Well written “Our Story” section
- Well written “About Us”
These basics not only improve the overall quality of your profile but add SEO value as well. On top of that, you should update your cover and profile pictures when running a campaign. Doing so can draw a little extra attention to your profile and advocacy efforts.
Additionally, your profile page should include a call-to-action (CTA). Currently, Facebook does limit your language choices for your CTA. However, you can create CTAs that are effective for your organization in general on Facebook. These include two options:
- Set the CTA to “Learn More”
- Link your CTA to a landing page. Ensure this landing page has a specific goal and that you’re funneling your visitors to a single action.
- With Muster, you can link your contact sign up page to this CTA or send customers to a page with an embedded contact form.
- With a newsletter sign up you’re asking for less information from the visitor, but when it comes time for an advocacy initiative you can still contact these people in your outreach. This approach can keep potential advocates in your orbit, ensuring they stay informed while showing them your campaign’s value.
When running an advocacy campaign, be sure to link to your advocacy software's action center. This ensures that you are driving traffic to an actionable page where they can send messages to their legislators, which can fulfill the main objective of your campaign. Check out the profiles of past successful campaigns to analyze their methods and see if there are any strategies your campaign can borrow.
3. Create a Regular Posting Schedule
With the exception of a few rare, dedicated individuals, most of your social media audience will be following and interacting with several organizations online. To capture their attention and establish an identity on a new platform, be sure to post regularly.
There is no exact schedule that all advocacy groups should aim to follow, but a post a day is optimal. Especially active accounts can consider posting twice a day, and those concerned about their activity should maintain a minimum of at least three times a week.
This can be a tall order for some organizations, and there’s always the fear that you might overload or overwhelm people with content. However, if you’re planning an advocacy campaign in the near future, you will need to be in the front of your audience’s mind to ensure they’re educated on your organization and the issue.
This can prime your audience for future action. To optimize this process, you must approach your social media accounts with a content creation strategy and post at regular intervals.
For the “type” of content you post, consider the “1/3, 1/3, 1/3, rule.” Essentially this rule advises dividing your content into three types that are posted in equal measure. For example, if you post three times a week, your content might look something like this:
- 1 post shares industry or related content your audience will be interested in
- 1 post is educational or organization-centric content created by you (i.e. a blog post or org update)
- 1 post is “sales” or “ask” oriented (i.e. become a member, event sign up, take action, etc)
This simple method will keep your profile growing, relevant, and engaging. When you want supporters to take immediate action during your advocacy campaign, you may need to tweak this schedule to keep your action alerts at the top of your feed. Some platforms allow accounts to pin posts, ensuring that your calls-to-action and appropriate links will be at the first thing your profile visitors see.
4. Design Engaging Visuals
You can help your campaign stand out online when you pair your messages with engaging visuals. Well-designed graphics and photos that fit your organization's brand and represent your advocacy position can showcase key parts of your campaign quickly, while also grabbing the attention of people scrolling through multiple posts.
Throughout your campaign, look for opportunities to create strong visuals. This can involve taking photos regularly or even hiring a graphic designer. Is there an image that will resonate with potential advocates, inspiring them to "like", share, or retweet your advocacy-related social media posts?
5. Use Storytelling
The heart of any great campaign, advocacy or otherwise, is telling a story and connecting to individuals in a way that will drive them to take action. At the core of social media, people are looking for content that compels them to connect and share.
By telling a story with your campaign, you can let your supporters know what’s at stake, how people are being affected, and why this is meaningful on a human level. Make sure your advocacy platform allows for your supporters to share that they've taken action—this will drive even more engagement to your campaign.
For your social media advocacy stories, include the following elements to quickly capture your audience’s attention and persuade them to take action:
- Relatable characters. Advocacy campaigns tend to be large projects that involve many different people doing many different things. With a story, you can more easily explain your cause and demonstrate why it matters by representing it through the perspective of a single, relatable character.
- Conflict that inspires emotion. Part of storytelling involves instilling emotions in your supporters that motivate them to take action. This means that when you present your conflict, you’ll need to strike a careful balance between presenting it as an urgent threat that requires immediate action, but not so overwhelming that the situation seems hopeless. Aim for evoking emotions that lead to action, such as frustration, excitement, and other high-energy feelings.
- Next steps. Social media advocacy stories should end with a clear next action that readers can take based on the story they just read. For example, at the end of your story detailing how urgent government action is needed, you might link to your action center and encourage readers to take the opportunity to reach out to their representatives.
Storytelling is an art rather than a sign, but there are ways you can increase your stories’ chances for success. For online stories, consider beginning with a hook to get more eyes on your post, then evoke emotion to help keep them engaged. This can increase the odds of your story being shared by readers, leading to increased exposure and awareness.
6. Connect with Local Media to Increase Visibility
Sharing your organization’s creative approach to digital advocacy may help spread your advocacy message and expand its reach. Often, your local journalists and news anchors maintain a large network of “followers” on social media, and if they choose to run an article on your advocacy organization, they have the potential to reach thousands of new supporters.
You can also share your online advocacy posts, or online action centers, with relevant influencers in your field and community. If an online influencer tweets or shares a Facebook post about your advocacy campaign, your advocacy message could potentially reach and educate a new audience about your campaign, amplifying your message.
7. Share Advocacy Action Alerts
Action Alerts are the best and most popular way to mobilize a group of people to influence public policy through technology.
Action Alerts encourage your supporters to take immediate action by putting them in touch with their representatives and even providing templates for email, text, tweets, or whatever other methods of communication your software provides. Your supporters can then use these templates to begin drafting their messages and relaying their personal reasons for supporting your campaign to their representatives.
Sending Action Alerts through email is a commonly used method of initiating a call to action, but to further increase your digital advocacy reach, share advocacy Action Alerts through social media. You can use your advocacy software and social sharing tools to enable your supporters to directly share the action alert to their various social channels.
8. Analyze Your Results
As you continue to post on social media, ensure you have a method for monitoring and measuring your social metrics. Fortunately, most social media outlets have their own analytics, such as Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics.
Obvious things to track include interactions such as likes, shares, and comments. This shows how engaged your supporters are with the content you post. If the goal is to increase website traffic, then focus on URL shares, clicks and conversions. Google Analytics is a great tool for this purpose.
If your goal is to gain conversions, track responses from your supporters. These will include responses to calls-to-action, such as signing up for your newsletter, making a donation, attending an event, or even following your social media pages.
Social media moves quickly, and taking a proactive approach to your incoming results can give your campaign it’s best chance for success. If certain posts are gaining traction through comments and shares, engage with the supporters on that post and follow it up with similar content to turn your online success into tangible support.
Social media is part of our everyday lives, and your advocacy campaign can take advantage of this to get in front of more people and spread your message further.
An effective social media strategy requires a strong foundational understanding of why posts do and do not succeed on different platforms. Before launching your first campaign online, take inventory of your advocacy campaign’s strengths and the message you want to project.
You can learn more about how to expand and strengthen your advocacy campaign with the following resources:
- 5 Advocacy Examples to Inspire Action and Motivate Change. Get inspired by how other campaigns have navigated social media and online outreach with these examples of successful advocacy campaigns.
- The Top 12 Advocacy Software Solutions for Grassroots Groups. Launching a successful social media advocacy campaign requires having the right software to back you up. Explore these top twelve platforms to find a software solution for our organization.
- What is Digital Advocacy? Everything Beginners Need to Know. If your advocacy group is just getting started exploring digital advocacy, this beginners guide can help get the fundamentals down.