Social Media Tips

Leveraging Social Media to Get Your Message Heard

Social media has become the easiest way to communicate with elected officials, but it can be difficult to be heard through all of the noise. As an issue-matter expert in health care and a voting constituent, members of Congress want to hear directly from you.  

Social media has revolutionized the way legislators connect with their constituents. Instead of waiting for a poll to be released, an elected official can simply a monitor a hashtag, attend a digital town hall, or lead a Twitter Chat to get the feel of how their voters stand on an issue. A large number of congressional offices even employ social media managers to monitor your comments throughout the day. Of course, there is always the question of whether these social platforms matter. Do they actually change votes?

The good news is that a recent Congressional Management Foundation study, entitled #Social Congress 2015, asked congressional offices how many posts it would take to grab their attention, and 35% of them said less than 10 posts! 80% of them went on to say 10-30 posts would be enough. The key, however, is not getting lost in the noise.

Best Practices for Facebook

Every congressional office is on Facebook, and typically uses their page as a way to share information with their constituents. While not every Facebook page is open to comments, a good number of them are. If you are able to comment on your legislator’s page directly, feel free to use this as a tool to speak to them directly.

The best posts are short and respectful. Make sure to identify yourself as a constituent, and as a physician. This can easily be done by saying:

“As a physician in your community…”

Also, if applicable, include a picture or an infographic. Not only does this make your post more engaging, but it actually scores higher on the Facebook algorithms. In other words, your post will be seen by more people and for a longer period of time if you use a picture, video, or link.

If you cannot post directly on your elected officials page, don’t worry. This is still a great place to see what your legislator has been doing. You can see upcoming events that you may want to attend, and get an idea on how they feel about issues. That way, when you do get a chance to reach them, you know exactly where they stand.

Best Practices for Twitter

Twitter has radically enhanced the way elected officials communicate with constituents. Now a favorite tool of legislators, Twitter is a great way for them to release press statements, photos, and other news items.

Of course, it is also a great way for individuals to rally around an issue. To reach your legislator, simply begin your tweet with their handle. A Twitter handle is the name of the account, and it will begin with an '@' sign. You can look up your legislators' handle here.

You will also want to include a hashtag (which begins with the # sign). Hashtags allow people to search for other tweets using that hashtag, and they also do a great job of branding your message. Your strength is in your numbers, so using a common hashtag will help you show a united front. Make sure to coordinate with other family physicians on a specific time, date, and hashtag to strengthen each other’s efforts. Also, a great way to identify yourself as a constituent is to hashtag your district. This will let the Legislator’s social media manager know you are from the community.

An example tweet:

@davereichert please support #PrimaryCare training and co-sponsor H. Res. 899 #THCGME #WA-8

Try to always include an image. 140 characters is not a lot to get a message across, and an image is worth 1,000 words. Check our Social Media Center for infographics and assets you can use in your own posts.

Key Takeaways:

  • Identify yourself as a constituent
  • Identify an affiliation with AAFP
  • Strength in numbers, coordinate with your group on timing and message