by Philip Newell, via Climate Access
While social media has been successful in some respects to raising awareness and participation in any number of issues, there are many groups across the spectrum struggling for attention. This may be due to their misuse of social media, relying on it as more of a one-way avenue of communications.By treating Facebook more like a newsletter than a conversation, and by engaging as an organization instead of as individuals, the NGO community may be missing out on the full potential of this medium. For the basics, Climate Access has already put together a handy Tip Sheet.
Here at Climate Nexus, we are focused on communicating the science of climate change through both traditional as well as new media sources. As a communications associate, part of my job is figuring out how to best utilize these new forms of media to bring as much attention to the science as possible. In the ideal world, we’d make the science of climate change as well known as the latest celebrity divorce.
Let’s step away from our communications positions and take a minute to remember the reason most people use Facebook.
Remember when you were in high school, and there was that person you had a crush on, but they didn’t know you existed? Facebook is for finding … and impressing them. You find their profile, and thus their interests. “Oh, he’s big into motorcycles?” You then join the Harley page and find something to post to Mr. Right’s wall, thereby getting him to notice you AND showing him that you two have something in common. Of course, you’ve never ridden (helmet hair? No thanks) but, if he ever asks, you get to fish for an invitation for a ride!
What’s that mean for people like us, who are certainly not using Facebook to woo our dream dates? It means that in some ways, we need to find … and charm the public into “like”-ing our page as though we were pursuing a crush.
To do this, we must remember that people don’t just post things to talk about who they are; they post things to show who they want to be, to show who they want others to think they are. Keep this in mind as you stalk out your future followers and speak to their aspirations, their hopes and dreams. If you want something shared, it’s got to be something that makes the share-er look cool or sexy or (most important on the Internet) clever or snarky! Reposting something funny makes YOU look funny. (And as we all know, a sense of humor is often top priority in a relationship!)
But don’t feel too much pressure! Just posting something original allows people to feel like part of the “inner circle,” the group first to see some picture, or to get the real scoop on the latest story. Keep in mind that any original content will enable people to think “Pfff, I knew about that before it was cool!” (Because deep down, everyone on the Internet has that hipster mentality.)
We’ve found from our [Warning: obligatory shameless self-promotion link follows] I <3 Climate Scientists FB page that while some people share around news stories, more tend to share some of the professional comics that we post. Surprisingly, sometimes our in-house creations are even more popular — and those are basically just cute animal pictures with some mildy-punny text! After a quick search for the animal in the picture, we found a variety of groups that shared our interest in, say, polar bears, so we posted it there. Lo and behold, people who “liked” a polar bear fan page also became fans of ours! We had found new followers simply by reaching out to a different group with similar interests. This can be repeated with just about anything, since almost anything you can imagine has its own Facebook page already!