Social Media Guide
Using social media for Communities Talk is an important way to engage and mobilize audiences in prevention. It helps us communicate and interact with one another online and builds and maintains relationships among both established partners and those new to substance misuse prevention work.
Use social media to:
- Gather information about issues of concern to the community via polls and questions;
- Share highlights from your Communities Talk activity with photos and videos;
- Solicit feedback after your activity;
- Keep the conversation going about prevention topics following your activity; and
- Cross-promote alcohol and other drug misuse prevention messages and helpful resources from partners.
- Use #CommunitiesTalk hashtag to connect your posts to the official Communities Talk initiative conversation across all social media platforms.
- Keep posts short and concise. The shorter the posts, the more likely your audience will interact with and share (retweets, shares, likes, etc.) your content. The current character limit on Twitter is 280 characters, but the most common length of a tweet is less than 50 characters.
- Post 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
The following information will help you decide which platforms will work best for promoting your Communities Talk activity and reaching your target audience.
Facebook is best used to share news and announcements, event highlights, photos or albums, links to relevant articles or blog posts, videos, or engage in online conversations among the community and directly with organizations. To increase the effectiveness of your efforts:
- Always add pictures or videos to your posts.
- Respond to comments when a reply is appropriate to spark meaningful conversations.
- Create an events page to advertise your Communities Talk activity. Use it to publicize speakers and inform the public about amenities.
- Use Facebook's own built-in scheduler to schedule posts ahead of time.
- Use its built-in Insights feature to explore analytics information for your posts.
Twitter is best used to share news and announcements, share links to articles or blog posts, “report” during events, or participate in trending conversations. The text content of a tweet can contain up to 280 characters, including emojis and links. Users can also share videos, photos, and other graphics.
- Post messages that are timely and relevant—the half-life of a tweet is about 18 minutes.
- Find a relevant hashtag that has gained some traction and be part of the larger conversation as well as gain some new followers. Examples include #UnderageDrinking, #SubstanceMisuse, and #CommunitiesTalk.
- Follow relevant substance misuse prevention accounts, such as: @SAMHSAgov, @PTTCNetwork, and @redribbonweek.
- Like posts that you agree with and retweet them to engage users and increase your following.
- Use Twitter members’ handles instead of their names.
- Remember that the best Twitter profiles begin conversations, interact with users, and have a personal tone.
Instagram is an online photo sharing, video sharing, and social networking platform 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.
When using Instagram:
- Download the Instagram app to a phone or tablet and take behind-the-scenes pictures, promo pictures, or day-of pictures.
- Write short, engaging descriptions and tag other Instagram users in your pictures.
- Use hashtags so that other prevention organizations can connect with you and your content. When on mobile, you can easily discover popular hashtags to consider putting in your post. Start writing a hashtag with the "#" symbol and a drop-down menu with possible hashtags and their number of posts featured will appear.
Utilize Stories: Stories allow users to post photos or videos that automatically disappear within 24 hours. Stories come with built-in features allowing you to use stickers, filters, add links and tag locations. You may also gather audience data by sharing polls or the questions and answer box. Stories also allow you to share content that you have been tagged in. It’s important to note that you can save Stories to your profile by creating a Highlights tab. This allows them to stay viewable on your profile even after 24 hours.
YouTube has become the world's second largest internet search engine. YouTube videos are searchable by topic, such as Communities Talk activities.
Make the best use of YouTube by:
- Using your channel to advertise your upcoming activity and share a recorded version of it when it’s over.
- Leaving your comments enabled for the first few months and see what feedback you receive. If the comments are spam or all negative, disable them.
- Building 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.
- Embedding your videos from YouTube on your website.
- Including relevant hashtags and links in your YouTube description as a way to pull in audiences who are interested in learning more.
Snapchat allows you to send 10-second videos or pictures to your Snapchat friends or post them to your Story. Other features include the ability to add filters and AR-based lenses to snaps and show your live location on a world map. Snapchat is about living in the moment since Stories disappear within 24 hours. The best Snapchat Stories let us peer into a sector of someone’s life or an organization's process that isn't normally showcased, all while telling a good story.
Follow the tips below for using Snapchat for your Communities Talk activity:
- Show what your organization or activity is really about, what you do, and how you do it. Or take a moment to be silly and show your organization's sense of humor.
- Use geotags for a live event to help increase visibility and showcase what you did during your activity.
- Use snaps to thank donors or consider providing unique or exclusive content, such as a campaign teaser or an early bird price offer on tickets to your next activity.
- You can jazz up your snap by adding a fun overlay with a filter. After you take a snap, swipe right or left on the preview screen to add colored filters, the current time, local weather, speed overlays, or geofilters to your photo or video.
- Create a unique geofilter for your specific activity or event. Similar to filters, you can use a geofilter to decorate snaps. Unlike filters, however, geofilters are specific to your location or an event you're attending.
- Including a URL that leads viewers to a resource or website for more information.
- Increase your engagement by adding a poll to your story.
To engage professionals and partners working in the prevention field, consider posting messages and resources on LinkedIn — a social media platform for business- and employment-focused engagement and connection.
Follow the tips below for using LinkedIn for your Communities Talk activity:
- Follow fellow partner and community organizations you work with on LinkedIn and engage with and comment on their content weekly.
- Develop a How To post to share how similar organizations can host a #CommunitiesTalk event like yours.
- Include photos of promotional information from your Communities Talk event with your message post.
- Tag supporting individuals—such as policymakers and business owners or partnering organizations—in thank you posts to show gratitude and reach a larger audience.
- Publish articles featuring lessons learned or insights shared during Communities Talk events and activities on your organization’s LinkedIn profile. Ask a community leader or member to byline a guest article for your LinkedIn page.
- Use the LinkedIn Live broadcasting feature to share your Communities Talk activities virtually. Your LinkedIn page followers will be notified when you go live and increase views of your live feed.
- Add the link you are sharing as the first comment after the post and not in the body of the message post. Instead of using the web page preview in your post, add a photo in its place for increased visibility.
- Add your insights when resharing content from other LinkedIn users and organizations. Your additional thoughts will boost the visibility of your reshare via the LinkedIn algorithm.
- Find and use hashtags (no more than 3 in a post) that similar organizations and initiatives are using to leverage those audiences.