Using Social Media

Social media is here to stay.

The use of social media in Canada today shows a powerful trend among the population. People of all ages are increasingly using social media daily.

In 2012, according to 6S Marketing:

  • 80% of Canadians (27.4 million people) were connected to the Internet
  • 64% of Canadians had a social network profile
  • 79% of Canadians did not leave home without their mobile device

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The value of social media as tool for advocacy should not be ignored in today’s context. However, traditional advocacy tactics are still important. Though ongoing debate about the effectiveness of social media for specific advocacy continues, using social media strategically could amplify advocacy efforts. We can use the power of social media for social good.

Social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogs, etc.) can be used to:

  • Communicate with groups of people about a concern.
  • Mobilize those groups to take action.

When Using Social Media

(From The Dragonfly Effect)
  • Focus (single measurable goal)
  • Grab Attention (make people look)
  • Engage (personal stories, touch emotions, authenticity)
  • Take action (and empower others to take action)
Possible Advantages

  • Instantaneous communication:
    communicate to wide range of citizens and politicians.
  • Innovation: engage people with creative educational tools.
  • Networking: encourage participation in advocacy activities and coordinate efforts.
  • Inexpensive: No set-up or membership fees
Possible Disadvantages

  • Less personal: social media can never replace a valuable face-to-face conversation.
  • Slacktivism (slacker + activism): Becoming too dependent on clicking “like” and “share” and not engaging in other advocacy activities.
  • Overload of information:
  • The instantaneous messaging may be too much for politicians and citizens to respond to.
Go Deeper: For more information and ideas on using social media in advocacy, check out The Dragonfly Effect by Jennifer Aaker & Andy Smith.

Choosing Social Media Tools





  • Set up a Facebook page for your organization or campaign.
  • Invite your networks to ‘like’ your page. Then they will see your posts on their own “newsfeed.”
  • You can share news, stories, blog posts, videos, and pictures from events on the page.

Tip: Keep posts short and conversational,
and post about every other day.

  • Helps create better
    public awareness.
  • Helps improve networking and capacity.
  • Facebook groups, events, and pages can help others find information about your cause and join advocacy activities.
  • Increases group capacity


  • Users (both individuals and organizations) can create posts of 140 characters or less.
  • You can also post links, images, and videos.
  • Follow politicians, organizations, and media sources on Twitter to stay in
    the loop.
  • “Retweet” others’ Twitter posts that will help educate people about your issue.
  • Use relevant hashtags (Ex. #cdnpoli, #poverty, etc.) to engage in a conversation.
  • Tweet directly to elected representatives with actions you want them to take.
  • Helps keep you informed and you can help
    educate others.
  • Helps improve networking   and capacity for
    political advocacy.
  • Adds to public dialogue and puts pressure on elected representatives.


  • Add videos to inspire change.
  • Videos can be helpful campaigns tools.
  • Organizations can use video to help others understand their work.
  • Helps educate and
    engage citizens.


  • A website where you post your own content. Posts can be as long as you want, though shorter (less than 500 words) is better for online engagement.
  • Easy, efficient, and authentic way to circulate the message.
  • You can also do longer posts and explain your ideas and concerns.
  • You can include your personal perspective on an issue.
  • Organize your blog posts into separate groups of posts about different issues.
  • If your blog is widely
    circulated, you could gain the attention of people in
    positions of influence.
  • Your blog can help educate and
    inspire others.


  • Keep blogs concise and
    focused on one or two
    specific issues.
  • Share stories and use an
    engaging writing style
  • If you are writing about a
    particular group, try to include the voices of these individuals in your blog.

Keep in MindKeep in Mind: Link Your Tools!
Facebook is one of the most popular social media sites. Link any Twitter, YouTube, and blog posts to your Facebook page.
Go DeeperGo Deeper: Start Blogging.
There are many different blogging websites. Here are two to help you get started:
Go DeeperGo Deeper: Social Media Terms. 
For definitions of social media terms, visit Constant Contact.
Go DeeperGo Deeper: Resource for Organizations.
For organizations and groups, social media can be an effective tool for networking, communications, and seeking feedback from members. Visit Nonprofit Tech for Good  at for helpful ideas on how to best use social media.
Keep in MindKeep in Mind: Other Social Media Tools. There are many other social media tools that can be used for education and advocacy. Here are some others you could include in your strategy:

Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn,
and Google+.


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