Young Australians are some of the biggest users of social media in the world. Social media offers great opportunities to involve them in what you’re doing. But before you start posting or tweeting, you’ll need to plan a social media strategy and policy. It’s not enough just to think “we should be on social media!”
Social media can be an important space for young people to shape their identities and build relationships. It can improve learning, access and connections to services. Taking part in online communities can motivate young people to get involved in real life communities.
But be aware that you’ll need to assess the risks involved in using social media. A solid social media strategy and policy will help with this.
(By the way, we’re assuming that you already know a little bit about what social media is and what options are out there. If not, read YACVic’s research report, ‘What makes you tweet?’ Young people’s perspectives on the use of social media as an engagement tool).
In developing a social media strategy, some important questions to ask yourself are:
Now think about things from the point of view of your potential audience – what’s in it for them?
Why would someone want to like your page, read your posts or follow your tweets?
Once you have developed your policy you should also ask yourself:
Your social media policy is a set of guidelines for you and your audience. Creating a good social media policy will mean you’re clear on how you handle any possible risks. You’ll need to decide:
Social media is a public space, meaning anyone might see what’s been written, possibly some years later. Think about the sort of impact negative comments or images could have on your audience or organisation.
Social media conversations are different to real life. When people can’t see or hear each other they can’t pick up on subtle tone or body language. Which means they might misunderstand someone’s comments or reactions. Unfortunately, some people can act very differently online to how they might act normally. You’ll need to watch out for internet bullies and ‘trolls’ - people who try and upset or hurt other users.
You’ll also need to be alert to young people disclosing confidential or concerning information. You’ll need to plan for what happens if they do.
Using social media could involve legal risks, including:
To think through any of these ideas in more detail, take a look at:
And if you’re really worried about some of the legal stuff, get in touch with Youthlaw.
Once you’ve created a social media strategy and policy, you can start posting content – the things you want your audience to see, share and interact with.
Give people a reason to like or follow you, or share what you’re doing. Provide information that’s useful, relevant, accurate, evidence–based and up–to–date. Think facts, statistics, links and quotes. Mix up content with entertaining, funny and thought-provoking. Vary between pictures, videos, links and text.
Always give credit to who you took the information from. Tag them in your post or tweet, e.g. “10 great tips for running meetings, via @yacvic”.
Social media channels need regular fresh content to survive. But there's a thin line between informing your audience and annoying them! How often should you post? It will depend on the type of engagement you want - and the time you have available. Read Buffer's Social Media Frequency Guide for some ideas.
Always think before you post or tweet.
If you’re unsure, don’t post. Always check links before you re-post or re-tweet them! Make sure they’re appropriate.
It takes time to build an online community. Be aware that different audiences can grow in different directions. Social media isn’t a competition to get the most ‘likes’ or followers. It’s the quality of interaction – the amount of comments, replies or re-tweets you get – that’s important. To attract more people to your audience, promote your social media channels as often as possible, online and offline. But remember that the best way to grow your audience will be your existing members sharing your content, so don’t neglect them.
To build engagement:
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