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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 underage drinking and substance use prevention work. Social media also can add value to your Communities Talk activity and ongoing underage drinking prevention efforts

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 underage drinking and substance use prevention messages from partners.

General Tips

  • Use #CommunitiesTalk to connect your posts to the official Communities Talk initiative hashtag across all social media platforms.
  • Keep posts short and sweet. The shorter the posts, the more likely your audience will engage with you (retweets, shares, likes, etc.). The current character limit on Twitter is 280 characters, but the most common length of a tweet is 33 characters.
  • 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 activity 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. 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 Facebook 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 a microblogging and social networking service on which users post and interact with messages known as "tweets." The platform allows users to post, like, and retweet tweets. 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.

Twitter is best used to share news and announcements; provide customer service; share links to articles or blog posts; live tweet during events; or participate in trending conversations.

Use the following tips when tweeting:

  • 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 and #CommunitiesTalk.
  • Follow relevant substance misuse prevention accounts, such as: @SAMHSAgov, @PTTCNetwork, and @redribbonweek.
  • If someone says something you like or agree with, like the post and retweet it to engage users and increase your following.
  • If you are talking to other people on Twitter, use their handles instead of their names.
  • The best Twitter profiles don't just share links; they begin conversations, interact with users, and have a personal tone behind the account.


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.

The tips below can guide your use of 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 other underage drinking prevention organizations can connect with you. When on mobile, you can easily discover popular hashtags to consider putting in your post. Start writing a hashtag with the "#" sign and a drop-down menu with possible hashtags and their number of occurrences will appear.
  • Utilize Stories and Highlights. Stories allow you to use stickers to enhance your photos; share polls for your followers to fill out, thus helping you gather intelligence; gather questions from followers; share content that you have been tagged in; and archive important Stories to share later.


YouTube has become the world's second largest internet search engine. It is a video sharing website on which users can upload, view, and share videos. 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.
  • 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 is an image and video messaging app. The app allows you to send 10 seconds of 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 geofilter for your activity or event. Like filters, you can use a geofilter to decorate snaps. Unlike filters, however, geofilters are specific to your location or an event you're attending.