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Social Media Guide

Social media helps us communicate and interact with one another online. It also helps to build and maintain relationships among established partners and among those new to underage drinking prevention work. Using social media for Communities Talk is an important way to engage and mobilize audiences in underage drinking prevention. Social media also can add value to your Communities Talk event and larger underage drinking prevention efforts.

Use social media to:

  • Gather information about issues of concern to the community via polls and questions;
  • Recap your Communities Talk event with photos and videos;
  • Solicit feedback after your event;
  • Keep the conversation going about prevention topics following your event; and
  • Cross-promote underage drinking prevention messages from partners.


  • Keep posts short and sweet. The shorter the posts, the more likely your audience will engage with you (retweets, shares, likes, etc.).
  • Engage with your audience by posting a question or a fill-in-the-blank statement to encourage comments or replies.
  • Always include an image or video with your post. Visual posts attract the most engagement across social media platforms.
  • Check your analytics to determine the best days of the week and times to post.

Picking the Right Social Media Platform

Not every social media platform will be right for promoting your Communities Talk event or reaching your target audience. The following information will help you decide which formats work best for your needs.


Facebook is a popular social networking site for individuals and organizations.

Fast Facts

  • 1.5 billion daily users across the globe
  • 69 percent of U.S. adults use Facebook

Tips on Using Facebook

Follow the tips below to increase the effectiveness of your Facebook efforts:

  • Always add pictures or videos to your posts.
  • Respond to comments when a reply is appropriate and can spark meaningful conversations.
  • Create an events page to advertise your Communities Talk event. Use it to publicize speakers and inform the public about amenities.


Twitter enables users to send and read tweets, which are text messages limited to 280 characters. A handle is a name by the @ sign that a Twitter user selects, uses when tweeting, and responds to if tweeted. A hashtag is a topic label, preceded by a # sign that allows those who are interested in the topic to follow and post related tweets.

An example of a tweet from @samhsagov is “Parents, DYK 12–17 y/o youth are less likely to use substances if they believe their parents would strongly disapprove? #SGR50.” (The handle is @samhsagov. The hashtag is #SGR50, which refers to the 50th anniversary of the Surgeon General’s report on tobacco use. Selecting the hashtag will lead to a series of tweets about this topic.)

Fast Facts

  • 330 million monthly active users
  • 22 percent of U.S. adults use Twitter
  • 80 percent of users access Twitter from a mobile device.

Tips on Tweeting

Use the following tips when tweeting:

  • Post messages that are timely and relevant—the half-life of a tweet is about 18 minutes.
  • Use hashtags so your message is labeled. Examples include #UnderageDrinking and #CommunitiesTalk
  • If someone says something you like or agree with, retweet his or her post. It’s a simple way to engage users and increase your following.
  • If you are talking to other people on Twitter, use their handles instead of their names.


Instagram is an online photo sharing, video sharing, and social networking service that enables its users to take photos and videos, apply digital filters to them, and create short-lived “Stories” with a 24-hour life. Facebook owns Instagram, so photos can easily be shared across both platforms.

Fast Facts

  • 1 billion monthly active users
  • 37 percent of U.S. adults use Instagram
  • Surging popularity in the U.S.

Tips on Using Instagram

The tips below can guide your use of Instagram:

  • Download the Instagram app to a phone or tablet, and take behind-the-scene pictures, promo pictures, or day-of pictures.
  • Write short, engaging descriptions, and tag other Instagram users in your pictures.
  • Use hashtags so other underage drinking prevention organizations can connect with you.


YouTube is a video sharing website on which users can upload, view, and share videos. YouTube videos are searchable by topic, such as your Communities Talk event.

Fast Facts

  • Reaches more adults ages 18 to 49 than any cable network in the U.S.
  • 73 percent of U.S. adults use YouTube
  • More than half of video views come from mobile devices

Tips on Using YouTube

The following tips can help you make the best use of YouTube:

  • Use your YouTube channel to advertise your upcoming event and share a recorded version of it.
  • Most organizations disable their comments. Leave your comments enabled for the first few months and see what feedback you receive. If the comments are spam or all negative, disable them.
  • Build channels with similar videos. For example, underage drinking prevention is one of the channels on the SAMHSA YouTube account. Also, make sure your channel descriptions are clear and concise.
  • If you have a website, embed your videos from YouTube.


Pinterest is an online pinboard that is made up entirely of visuals. When you share an image, you are pinning. A re-pin is when you share someone else’s pin.

Fast Facts

  • 250 million active monthly users
  • 81 percent of users are female
  • Strong use by many rural populations

Tips on Using Pinterest

Follow the tips below for using Pinterest for your Communities Talk event:

  • Create a board specifically for your event.
  • Share pictures of the event preparation, the day of the event, and outcomes of your event (e.g., pledge or proclamation).
  • Share other users’ content related to underage drinking prevention (just be sure to change the caption and give credit when you re-pin).
  • Have a group board and allow similar organizations or other members to pin. This is a great way to foster community involvement.