Think about the last policy white paper you read. How many facts or ‘bullet points’ can you remember?
Chances are, not many. Policy papers, policy research reports, and other dense, academic documents created by associations, think tanks, etc. are essential pieces of public policy conversations. But if the aim of such content is to prompt action, especially if that action is needed urgently, there may be better formats.
Social media platforms have created opportunities to share the insights from policy research with wide audiences. Through some of our own research, we’ve even learned that Capitol Hill professionals are turning to social media more and more to find information on the issues important to them and to their constituents.
There are some notable obstacles to overcome, however. Chief among the obstacles is re-framing policy research into formats that are both suitable for social media platforms and engaging enough to grab the attention of intended audiences (policymakers and other influencers, such as advocates).
While video and other visual imagery perform very well across social media platforms, it’s the language and tone of the ‘copy,’ or text, that offers the greatest difficulty. Either policy experts upload dense, bloated PDFs that no one reads; or a social media content creator makes cool, accessible content that completely misinterprets the message of the white paper.
Here’s one tool that can be used to address the issues of language, tone, and framing. It’s a list of ten questions that can help an individual or team turn policy-focused research reports, white papers, position papers, etc. into content for use on social media.