Social Media 101: Using Social Media to Advocate and Influence Policy

Why You Should Use Social Media for Advocacy

  • Provides a massive platform for networking
  • Provides a cost-effective way to connect with others to promote a common cause
  • Offers efficient resources to inform and collect support from parents, teachers, and the community
  • Connects you with almost every lawmaker who uses social media-another pathway to advocate
  • Connects you with almost every reporter who uses social media-another pathway to spread the word

Remember these social media rules of conduct:

  • You can have an opinion; however, be articulate and professional in any tweet, retweet, or post.
  • Generally, you should not use personal social media accounts for education business and it is recommended too that you create accounts for professional use.
  • If things go negative, it’s okay to stop engaging. Consider the impact on your overall advocacy efforts to help make a decision.
  • The moment you publish anything on social media, it’s out there forever.

The Primary Options for Social Media Advocacy

  • Twitter:
    • A platform to share your thoughts with followers in 140 characters or less
    • You can tweet at (@) people/groups; use hashtags (#) to create or join a movement referencing certain subject matter and follow other people/groups to get different viewpoints, learn something new, and follow breaking news and what others are doing; and retweet the posts of others to share the idea or news with your followers
    • The more often you tweet and explore on Twitter, the more your follower base and subject matter will grow—getting your word out to a greater volume of people
    • An example tweet about President Obama highlighting a new (hypothetical) literacy policy would look like this: “Great literacy policy introduced by @POTUS that addresses equity gap in low-income schools. #Literacy #EquityForAll”
  • Facebook:
    • A platform to share your thoughts with friends and followers. Also has a “group platform” that many organizations use to communicate with other group members or grow support for a certain movement.
    • You can post status updates, web links, announcements, photos, documents, etc.
    • Has a similar hashtag system to Twitter, allowing you to create or join a movement involving certain subject matter.
    • Has more active users than any other platform.
  • LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube:
    • Good resources for sharing videos, photos, and organizational updates

Social Media To-Do List

  • Follow policymakers at all levels on various social media. Understanding what your federal, state, and local policymakers are saying on social media will help you craft the speaking points and messages you’ll need to communicate with them on your issues. Pay attention and track what they’re working on; what kinds of things they like to talk/tweet about, and what their positions are. For example, you may learn that your member of Congress likes to tweet out photos of his or her recent visit to a school. You could use this as a way to ask your representative to come visit your own school.
  • Create groups on Facebook. You can do this to build advocacy coalitions for funding increases with lawmakers; build grassroots support; and connect with parents, teachers, and others throughout the community for reporting/discussing progress and “asks” during the state accountability program development stage.
  • Use social media to establish relationships with members of the media, especially on Twitter. Reporters have massive followings, and they’re always looking for a good story that furthers their following even more. Use these relationships to tell your story and share good news and/or concerns with your community. 

Suggested Twitter and Facebook accounts to follow:

  • NASSP: @NASSP on Twitter, @Principals on Facebook
  • The U.S. Department of Education: @usedgov on Twitter, @Ed.Gov on Facebook
  • The White House/President: @WhiteHouse/@POTUS on Twitter and Facebook
  • Your local, state, and federal legislators; community leaders; and local media

Sample Social Media Posts

Facebook

I’m advocating for more funding from Title II in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) because our schools need proper funding. Check out this toolkit from @NASSP for everything from fact sheets to sample social posts to spread the word. http://www.nassp.org/essa-toolkit

[INSERT MEMBER OF CONGRESS NAME] I hope you will join me in advocating for more funding under ESSA. http://www.nassp.org/essa-toolkit

Increased funding for education programs under ESSA is important and necessary. Help me make sure [INSERT MEMBER OF CONGRESS NAME] helps to secure it. http://www.nassp.org/essa-toolkit

Twitter

I’m advocating for more funding from Title II #ESSA and you should too! Our schools need proper funding: http://www.nassp.org/essa-toolkit 

.[@INSERT MEMBER OF CONGRESS TWITTER HANDLE] join me in advocating for more funding under #ESSA: http://www.nassp.org/essa-toolkit

Increased funding for education programs under #ESSA is necessary. Help make sure [@INSERT MEMBER OF CONGRESS TWITTER HANDLE] helps to secure it. http://www.nassp.org/essa-toolkit