Module 4:

Using social media effectively

Making social media work for your organization

Social media platforms – whether blogs, or sites such as Twitter and Facebook – provide fast ways to capture people’s attention, engage with others, and share information. You can use them to drive traffic to content on your website. And, they can enhance collaboration and information sharing with other organizations.

Social media platforms can also be useful in helping organizations share legal information. You may not be able to share much substantive legal information on social media platforms that require short messages, but you can still use them to point people to more in-depth resources.

And social media platforms can be useful in building awareness: about legal rights, good places to go for help, the services your organization offers, and opportunities to participate in community activities.

But, because of the overwhelming and ever-growing size of social media platforms, it can be easy to get lost in the shuffle. Here you’ll find information and tips to help you figure out how to make social media work for you and your organization.

Why use social media?

Social media gives you and your organization the chance to:

  • share and promote your services, events, and resources you’ve prepared
  • listen and find out what is going on in your work or target community
  • build your organization’s brand and relationships

It can also help you build credibility by being transparent about what you and your organization are doing – and why.

How can I build an online presence?

Plan what your online presence should look like before you start to use social media or refresh your current use of social media

In order to capture people’s attention, it’s a good idea to:

  • identify your target audience or audiences – who do you want to share your information with?
  • think about your marketing strategies – what is your goal and approach to sharing information?
  • think about the tone and personality you want to establish – how do you want to brand your organization?

Considering these factors will help you decide which online platforms you or your organization should use.

Decide which platforms work best for your goals

Most organizations in our non-profit social media network seem to rely on both Twitter and Facebook. Here is some information about similarities and differences between the two platforms.

Similarities

Feature Facebook and Twitter
Allow hashtags (for example, #A2J or #PLEI) Both platforms allow use of hashtags, which is a way to group content by category – Twitter started this trend. Twitter’s content organization scheme is very reliant on hashtags. And hashtags can help make your posts easier to search on Facebook as well.
Search function Both platforms allow you to search for information.
Customization Both platforms allow you to customize some features to include your organization’s branding or background information.
Build networks Facebook allows you to “friend” or “follow” people and organizations. Twitter allows you to “follow” people or organizations of interest.
Endorse or share information Facebook allows you to “like” or “share” content on your timeline for your Facebook friends to see. Twitter allows you to “favorite” content. You can also share others’ content by “retweeting” it.
Look for information and people Facebook relies on personal connections (such as old school acquaintances, family, friends). You can also look for business or organizational (“public service”) pages. Twitter is structured for you to find relevant information based on “trending” items and hashtags – if you use an appropriate hashtag, your content will end up on a list for others interested in similar content.

Differences

Feature Facebook Twitter
Network Facebook networks people.
    Twitter networks ideas and topics.
Length of content Facebook allows for lengthy content. Twitter limits users to 140 characters per tweet – short, snappy ideas only.
Ease of use Facebook has many more features and is considered harder to use. Twitter is considered relatively easy to use.

For information on how to write Facebook posts, see “Writing legal information content for Facebook” in this module.

For information on how to write tweets, see “Writing legal information content for Twitter” in this module.

Of course, there are many other social media platforms, each with a slightly different focus. Here are some examples:

  • YouTube and Vimeo: you can use these platforms to upload and share videos
  • Instagram and Tumblr: you can use these platforms to share photos and small bursts of information
  • LinkedIn: you can use this platform to upload job postings, network with other professionals, and join discussion groups of interest to your field

CLEO shares legal information via its Facebook and Twitter channels – like or follow us @cleolegalrights. CLEO also hosts legal information webinars and shares them via its CLEO Webinars Vimeo channel. And the PLE Learning Exchange shares legal information, clear language tips, and information about access to justice research on Twitter – follow us @PLELearningX.

And, depending on your target audience, you might want to consider using some other platforms in addition to or instead of Twitter or Facebook. For example, our sibling organization, the Ontario Justice Education Network, uses LinkedIn to recruit students for justice fellowships. And, many non-profits use Instagram to promote stories or help their fundraising efforts.

Develop policies to monitor the ways users interact with your content

If your organization starts to share legal information content via social media, you may find that you get requests for online legal advice, or inappropriate comments. Here are some things to consider

Think about how to monitor and participate in discussions.

Plan how to:

  • handle requests for legal advice via social media
  • moderate comments – and remove inappropriate ones
  • monitor and participate in discussions

Create a written social media policy for your organization and share with anyone responsible for creating social media content