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Platform by platform: social media for advocacy

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What social media platforms should you use and how should you use them? With such a low barrier to entry, it’s tempting to employ every tool available, but that would be a mistake. As our research shows, it’s better to have a deep presence on a few sites than a shallow presence in many.

So which should you focus on? To decide, take into account the specific qualities of the platforms. Different platforms are conducive to different content; therefore, some platforms will fit your organization’s goals better than others. To inform your choice, here are the best uses for three popular platforms.LinkedIn long logoUse: Publishing longer content to reinforce your brand
Once merely a networking tool, LinkedIn has evolved into a medium for education and professional development. Users log on wanting to learn from thought-leaders in their industries. With that in mind, use LinkedIn to reinforce your policy brand. Many, such as the Advanced Medical Technology Association, a National Journal Member, publish longer, wonkier content on LinkedIn than they would through other mediums. Such content works because it is what LinkedIn users have come to want and expect, and publishing it gives your audience a clearer understanding of your organization.

Use: Marketing to a professional audience
Because LinkedIn is an explicitly professional social media site, it provides unique opportunities for marketing. LinkedIn advertisers can target by industry, job title, years of experience, employer, and more. They can then “sponsor” their best content to put it in front of audiences not already in their network. For organizations with narrow target audiences, LinkedIn advertising can be a useful tool.


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Use: Keeping track of trends
Twitter can be considered the most democratic of all social media platforms. All users communicate on a relatively equal playing field, and conversations form and dissolve organically around what’s trending. By following these conversations, you can track and monitor the trends within your ecosystems.

Use: Joining the conversation
While you can glean valuable information through simple observation, you may want to actively participate. If a topic relevant to your organization is “trending,” you can build a reputation as a thought-leader by contributing to the discussion. If your content is compelling and relevant, you could earn free publicity through retweets. Relevancy, however, requires speed. Your team must have an efficient approval process so that you don’t miss opportunities. One organization we spoke with writes and approves tweets on a variety of topics ahead of time, thus mitigating the inherent risk of publishing quickly. Learn more about capitalizing on social media trends.

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Use: Building a community
Whereas Twitter’s communities are constantly changing, Facebook’s are more stable. With Facebook, you can create public or private groups based on a common cause. These groups promote dialogue among the group’s member-advocates. Groups should be lightly managed, with less emphasis on self-promotion than on community building. The manager should regularly post content in order to facilitate discussion but should rarely censor that discussion once it is initiated. The point is for the members to feel engaged.

Use: Marketing by interest
As with LinkedIn, Facebook can market to a highly specific audience, but at much lower cost. And, just as LinkedIn is uniquely effective at targeting by professional demographic, Facebook is effective in targeting by factors such as interest. Use this feature to reach certain audiences that may be sympathetic with your organization’s cause, but are unfamiliar with the organization itself.

There are many other uses for these platforms, not to mention many other platforms you could use. Remember: make a plan tailored to your office’s goals, and make content tailored to the specific social media platform.