Training 6: Social Media tips & tricks

This is the last in a series of training sessions we’ve put together that provide a background for those interested in campaigning and community organising. The videos were filmed over a two-day training program involving workshops on community organising, strategy, building support for an issue, and using the platform.

Camp CommunityRun was designed based on ‘Camp Obama’, a training program that was originally used in the USA by the Obama 08 campaign, and was widely acclaimed as a crucial element in the success of their field campaigning. GetUp! has run similar camps before.

In this session Kelsey Cooke shares some tips for using social media (in particular, Facebook) to further a campaign.

Filmed & produced by Change Media (

Social Media: Tips and Tricks

Let’s face it, today almost all of us are a part of some form of social media network, if not many at the same time. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn… the list goes on. And why not? Facebook and other forms of social media provide you with the opportunity to connect with the millions of users worldwide and are an excellent platform through which you can spread your campaign. In fact, did you know that Facebook drives 60% of all traffic toward CommunityRun campaigns?

If you’re not on Facebook or other social media sites already, we would urge you to get involved as the benefits you can reap from it in the course of your campaign are unparalleled. Because Facebook is both semi-public and semi-private in nature, not only can you interact with your own friends and family but you can also target directly those with the power to make change in relation to your issue, be it a lobby group, other organisation or an MP.

Here are some tips and tricks for you to consider when using social media in your campaign:

Optimise your campaign for social media

It’s extremely important to consider how to design a campaign in such a way that social media can best be utilised in conjunction with it.

Start with the title. Draft it once, draft it twice, draft it 10 times. Have other people take a look at it and get them to tell you what they think of it. Is it snappy? Is it too wordy for Facebook and Twitter? Try to keep it less than 100 characters and be sure to include keywords which are both searchable on google and relevant to your issue.

Next, think about the image you’ve chosen to use on your petition page. Having a killer image can make all the difference on social media sites as it is often the thing that convinces people to click through to your campaign. The golden rule is to look further than a simple ‘google images’ search, in which the results are often generic and bland. Try taking an image yourself or get somebody you know to help you out, that way it will be far more personal. Make it something intriguing and make it unique. Also, having a human presence is something to consider as this is often more effective in terms of connecting people with the issue at hand.

How to share

When deciding on how to share your petition via social media the question often becomes whether to do so through your existing personal Facebook page, or by creating a separate public page specifically for your campaign. While both methods have their own pros and cons, you may want to consider creating a public page as this way others can ‘like’ and share it, as opposed to supporters having to add you as a friend.

Growing your supporters list

Growing the number of supporters for your campaign becomes a lot easier when using social media sites. However, gaining support whether on or off-line still takes time and you still have to be prepared to work at it. Don’t underestimate the time it will take to get a campaign off the ground and it’s important for you to be prepared to set aside enough time at the beginning to really get things going.

We go by the motto of ‘Ask and you shall receive’- meaning once you are ready to start spreading your campaign, it’s time to start actively asking people to share it via their own networks. Don’t be shy! Ask your friends and family to do three things: sign the petition, like the Facebook page (is using one) and share it with their friends.

What to post

As a starting point, why not write a short story explaining your campaign and why it is important to you. The aim of this first post will be to persuade people to sign your petition and come along with you in the journey of your campaign.

After this, consider how you will write your Facebook posts. Make sure they are interactive – ask questions and be open to feedback from those within the community. Try to be creative and show your personality; the aim is to excite your supporters, not bore them. Consider using a mix of text, images, videos and links to other relevant web pages in your posts.

Importantly, use your posts to tell people what they can do- have you got a call to action?

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, be sure to celebrate your wins. Every step forward in your campaign is a win, and be excited to tell people about it. This will help to keep your followers motivated and make them feel as excited about it as you are.

When to post

When using social media often its all about timing. Be strategic with your posts by considering when they will be seen by the greatest number of people. The time of day can have a huge impact; late afternoons and evenings tend to work best when people have the time to dedicate to reading your posts and taking any action required. Try to avoid early mornings however, as people are usually preoccupied with other things.
Also, whilst keeping your followers in the loop is critical, be careful not to bombard or ‘spam’ your supporters with countless updates as sometimes less really is more.

Hitting Your Target

Communicating directly with your target using social media can be highly effective. It is important to carefully plan your moves on Facebook. Firstly, find your target or other decision-makers on your issue and consider what you can do to best get them to take notice of your campaign. Could you write on their wall or post a picture to their wall? Could you comment on the threads of their posts? How about tagging them in a post of yours? Any one of these, or a combination of several, could be used.
Next, you can use social media to organise a time when all of your supporters can contact your target in a coordinated effort at the same time. Perhaps you could urge all of your followers to write the target a personal message, or write on their wall – It’s all up to you.