Too many Americans – from our neighbors to our representatives in Congress – have no idea a civil justice crisis exists. We have to change that. And one of the most immediate ways to raise awareness is by leveraging the power of social media. Online we can share stories and help distill complex policy issues into understandable pieces to make the civil justice crisis more approachable for all people. Let’s start with some overall guidelines to our approach to sharing the story of the civil justice crisis on social media:
BUILD A COHESIVE NARRATIVE
Millions of Americans grapple with civil justice issues – but often, it’s unclear that these issues are linked, stemming from the same broken system. As frequently as possible, make the connection for readers, specifically naming the concept of our broken civil justice system. As readers see more of our posts, they’ll start to piece it together – but only if we guide them.
BE AS VISUAL AS POSSIBLE
Social media users scroll through hundreds of posts a day. Cut through the clutter with a compelling photo, interesting graphic, or eye-catching visual element.
KEEP IT SHORT
We can’t tell the full story of the civil justice crisis in just one single social media post – and even if we tried, no one would read it. Summarize the most important point, then urge the supporter to read an article or graphic to learn more.
JUST 1 ASK PER POST
With every post, think about what you want social media users to do. Do you want them to read the article, spread the word, make a donation, comment? All of these are valid asks – but we need to limit ourselves to one ask per post. If you ask for 3 things, people get distracted and take no action at all.
Social media can help you build a following quickly and create a community that is passionate about the civil justice crisis, stories, and potential solutions.
WHY USE FACEBOOK?
- Elicit interactive engagements from followers, especially by keeping a close eye on comments and shares.
- Open a dialogue between you and your followers with native Facebook Messenger.
- Facebook’s algorithm promotes posts that get engagement more than posts that drive traffic to a website.
- The platform seems to over-reward video content, so directly upload your videos to Facebook for a strong chance at engagement.
BEST PRACTICES FOR FACEBOOK
- Post 1-2 times a day, or at least a few times each week, and keep posts to fewer than 250 characters.
- Take advantage of the platform’s love for video by uploading video – but be sure to include captions.
- Don’t worry too much about hashtags – they’re not that powerful on Facebook.
- When sharing links, look at the preview and clean it up by deleting the URL from the post text and ensuring the post has a compelling image thumbnail and headline.
- Schedule content ahead with easy-to-use built-in feature
- If a post doesn’t perform awesome, don’t be discouraged – try again a few days later.>> If a post doesn’t perform awesome, don’t be discouraged – try again a few days later.
OTHER ELEMENTS AND INTEGRATIONS
- Facebook Groups (Public, Private, and Closed), Facebook Events, Facebook Advertising, Facebook Business Manager, Facebook Live
WHY USE TWITTER?
The platform is our best bet for rapid response – often reporters break news on Twitter first, following up later with an article.
Twitter users engage in shared conversations, replying to each other, retweeting each other, and more.
It’s built for live updates – host Twitter chats, live-tweet events, etc.
With so many public figures, celebrities, and influencers on the platform, it’s a good way to connect and engage with folks with large audiences.
Content can reach people of direct importance to the cause and people adjacent to the cause with large numbers of followers.
BEST PRACTICES FOR TWITTER
- Tweet several times a day (most retweets happen in the first hour).
- Keep posts to fewer than 140 characters, or 280 if necessary.
- Attach images and videos, as these tweets get higher engagement.
- Use hashtags that other people are using, in moderation, or build attention around a common event or conversation by creating a unique hashtag.
- Mention influencers with their handles or with quote tweets, but do so in a way that’s useful to them or credits them – and put a period beforehand if it’s the first word of the tweet.
- Utilize threads properly
- Verify everything before engaging – news often breaks on Twitter, but inaccuracies or errors are also common.
QUICK ELEMENTS AND INTEGRATIONS
TweetDeck and HootSuite for scheduling tweets, Twitter Ads, Twitter Lists (for grouping users for easy monitoring)
WHY USE INSTAGRAM?
Instagram is one of the best visual platforms available – when the story or point can be said more powerful with images than words, turn to Instagram.
It’s an especially popular platform with millennials and Gen-Z users.
Only use Instagram when you have quality photo and/or video content; don’t use it as an afterthought.
BEST PRACTICES FOR INSTAGRAM
Post at least once a week, or up to once a day.
Utilize as many relevant hashtags as possible (up to 30), but no more than a couple in the post text itself.
Put most hashtags after a series of line breaks, or in the first comment immediately after posting.
Make sure the video fits Instagram’s specifications – 60 seconds max (and 3 seconds minimum), or 15 seconds max for Stories.
You can’t link in a post, so direct people to the link in the profile bio.
You can only schedule with third-party programs, so remember to post as planned.
Instagram is more informal – professionally designed graphics don’t travel as well as they do on Facebook and Twitter.
OTHER ELEMENTS AND INTEGRATIONS
Instagram Ads (housed in Facebook Business Manager since Facebook owns Instagram), Canva (for easily designed graphics), Hopper (for scheduling posts), Instagram Story (for live updates and live video).