October 4, 2023
Effect Change and Meet Your Goals by Harnessing the Power of Social Media
October 1, 2019
By Divya Williams
Social media is a powerful tool that, when used correctly, can be effective in helping organizations reach any goal. A number of channels give users access to a wide audience, and PAs can harness these tools to better the profession. If you manage or play a role in shaping a state chapter or special interest group’s social media presence, here are some basic tips to keep in mind.
A best practice many PA caucuses, chapters, special interest groups, and specialty organizations follow is developing a social media committee to divide up responsibilities – who is posting the content, who is reviewing the content, etc. If your group doesn’t have a committee, that’s a great place to start! Keeping up an active social media presence is a lot of work, and ensuring your organization has dedicated sufficient resources (time being the most precious resource!) is step No. 1.
Once your committee is in place, the next step is to develop a social media strategy that defines the business objectives and the target audience. This will help you determine which channels will be most effective. For example, if one business objective is to encourage PAs check out a resource on your organization’s website, you should utilize Facebook over Instagram – Instagram has not proven to be successful in sending website referral traffic, but Facebook has the highest success in doing so out of all social networks. If you utilize multiple channels, make sure your organization’s social media accounts are easy for people to find – handles across channels should match and be as simple as possible.
Determining your audience will also guide you in discovering the voice/tone that will be the most effective as well as the type of content you will share.
There are many formulas you can use to execute your content strategy, but a widely used formula is the rule of thirds: one third engagement, one third curated content, and one third your own content. Using the rule of thirds helps to ensure that you’re sharing a mix of content that’s not only valuable and engaging but also helps you reach your business objectives.
Engagements are the interactions your audience has with your content (commenting, liking, sharing/retweeting, etc.). You can foster engagements with your audience by asking a question, creating a poll, conducting a contest, or posting a photo. Curated content is external but relevant, industry-related news from trusted sources that you share with your audience. And your own content is what you’ll use to promote your organization/cause/profession.
Social media has made it easy for us to get in contact with influencers such as state officials. Many state chapters have used social media as a tool for advancing PA-positive legislation.
However, a lot of organizations and individuals are vying for the attention of elected officials. The ease of access makes officials’ social media a heavily trafficked avenue. You’ll need to find a way to get noticed if you expect a reply.
A good start is to assess the official’s social media accounts to see what they’ve responded to in the past. And remember – engagement is a two-way street! Build a strong foundation by following your representatives, retweeting them, and thanking or otherwise acknowledging them when they take action your organization appreciates (remember to include their handle!).
Images and hashtags help convey importance, as well. For example, Leadership and Advocacy Summit attendees who participate in Hill Day should share photos from the event and tag those involved – mention your colleagues who attended and the officials that you met with and recap and/or follow-up on what was discussed. Keep the conversation going.
As a leader in the healthcare community, your personal accounts can have the potential to be a powerful tool in furthering the profession as well. Similar to an organization’s social media strategy, you’ll want to decide what voice/tone you want to convey. On your personal accounts, we recommend being profersonal™, which is a healthy balance of sharing personal and professional information.
Looking for some inspiration? Check out PA Bianca Belcher’s LinkedIn presence. Last year, she was selected as one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Healthcare after she put in the time and consistency required to build a personal online brand.
Developing an online presence doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to build your audience and find your rhythm.
After some time has passed, step back and assess what worked and what didn’t. Did your following increase? If not, are there tactics you could try like a push in a membership newsletter? What content generated the most engagements? What content generated the least? The great thing about social media is that the landscape is constantly changing. You can make changes to your strategy along the way – being flexible is half the battle.
Divya Williams is an associate in AAPA’s Communications Department. Contact her at [email protected].