Social media

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Social media sites are a great way to connection with your community, and are now such a popular form of communication that people are likely to expect to find your group represented there. While your website is likely to be kept updated with your group’s and the wider world’s big main stories, social media pages should be updated little and often to provide an ongoing stream of snippets of information and commentary.

There are no rules about what to communicate via social media; anything that relates to your group, type of project or the values they align with is likely to be worth posting. This could include updates on your group’s plans, activities and key milestones, such as upcoming events, volunteering opportunities and targets which have been met, as well as wider news items relating to the environment, policy developments, other projects, research results or new products and technologies. Having a variety of posts, involving a mixture of practical topics and fun information illustrated with pictures and videos, is likely to work best.

Two of the most common social media sites are:

Twitter. Twitter enables users to post short 140-character text messages, called "tweets", and other users can subscribe to (“follow”) and forward (“retweet”) different users’ posts. Twitter is great for communicating news stories and progress updates. You can put virtually anything relevant on Twitter, but be sure to use it regularly - the constantly updating format means that you are more likely to gain followers through frequent posts.

Facebook. Facebook has a wider variety of features than Twitter and enables you to post longer messages and whole albums of photos and videos, as well as creating events to promote and invite specific people to. Facebook and Twitter essentially serve the same purpose, but it can be worth having both in order to access different audiences. You can set up your Twitter messages to automatically post on your Facebook page, if you want to be really efficient!

You could also set up a YouTube account to promote your videos or a LinkedIn page for connecting with professionals.

Case Studies
Country: UK

Brighton Energy Co-operative recognise social media channels to be a powerful tool for community engagement. They recommend posting at least once or twice per week and setting up your browser to automatically log you in so that you can be in and out in a few seconds. In order to increase the number of milestones they post about, they set a series of smaller incremental targets, rather than one big overall target, for activities such as fundraising. By posting updates when targets are set, nearly reached and achieved, they find they have lots of updates to communicate! They also recommend using the hashtag #communityenergy to link in with the wider growing movement.

Source: Community-Led Photovoltaic Initiatives action pack