Social Media for Change
How can social media create change?
Social media is the new town square. It’s where people virtually meet, share and discuss ideas. Politicians and candidates listen to the mood on social media to help inform their politics, so just like setting up a meeting with your MP, using social media provides us with an opportunity to display community support for more clean, renewable energy.
By sharing news articles or graphics on your own personal social media channels, you’re providing information to your friends and peers that they might not have already seen – in a sense, it’s like you’re creating your own broadcast of ideas and stories. That’s why, sharing good news stories about renewables can help dispel common myths and build public support for more clean energy.
On most social media channels, more popular posts are shown to more people (on Facebook that means posts with more comments, shares, and reacts). So everytime you share or comment on posts from the Solar Citizens Facebook page, you’re boosting the post and helping to get it in front of more people.
Just like emailing your political candidates, writing a message on their Facebook pages or tweeting at them is a public way of contacting them. Sometimes, politicians or their staff will get back to you by publicly responding to your comment, post or tweet.
What’s a hashtag?
A hashtag looks like #yourmessagehere and has no spaces between the words. Hashtags are used to collate posts from different people that relate to the same topic or idea; for example, when posting a photo of a sunset on Instagram you could hashtag #sunset in your post so that people searching for sunsets will see your photo. Hashtags are used mostly on Twitter and Instagram, and, although they can be used Facebook, they’re not as commonly used because it’s more of a personal platform.
Hashtags are particularly important on Twitter because debates and events trend. That means that people all over Australia, or the world, are writing tweets and hashtagging the same thing. Some things that you could include as hashtags are #renewable #solar #auspol … or whatever relevant topic is trending!
Tagging on social media is a way to engage directly with another person/account. For example, by tagging @solarcitizens on Twitter and Facebook or @solar_citizens on Instagram, we will directly receive a notification that you have engaged with us and be able to like or share your post.
Tagging is useful for two reasons: it makes it easier for the Solar Citizens team to find your posts and it gives other people a direct link from your posts to the Solar Citizens page.
On Twitter, be careful tagging someone right at the beginning of your tweet because it will then turn into a direct reply to that person/account, which will decrease how many people see your tweet.
Correct example: “I love solar! @solarcitizens” or “.@solarcitizens has released a new report…”
Incorrect example: “@solarcitizens I love solar!”
How are social media channels different?
All social media channels are have differing functions and are used in different ways.
On Facebook it’s common for people to share their own personal photos, statuses and videos, as well as to share news articles, petitions etc to their personal networks. Facebook is used by a large number of people, and therefore is still viewed as the most important social media platform.
Twitter is slightly more fast-paced. You can share short messages, short video clips or pictures as tweets. On Twitter you can follow whomever: politicians, celebrities, journalists, friends, etc. and then you’ll see that they tweet. Twitter is more conducive to participating in trending discussions because hashtags are more common. If you tweet at a public figure or tag them in one of your tweets, it’s possible that they will personally see and reply to you.
On the other hand, Instagram is a very popular platform with younger audiences where you can share photos and short videos. By searching for certain hashtags on Instagram, you can see posts from any public account that has recently used that hashtag, meaning that when you post photos they can reach an audience outside of your own personal network.
Real life example:
During the day, Solar Citizens’ mascot Sunny might read an interesting news article on the internet, go out for brunch, and then in the evening cosy up to watch an episode of Q&A. As these events unfold, Sunny could share the news article with friends and family on Facebook, take a photo of brunch and post it on Instagram with the hashtag #brunch, and then on Twitter search #QandA during the evening to see what other audience members are saying in response to the show.
Step-by-step posting guides
- Open Facebook on your mobile app or on your desktop computer.
- If you have any account, one of the easiest ways to share content on Facebook is by hitting the ‘share’ button on any interesting posts that you see on your newsfeed.
- To share content that’s not already on Facebook, including online news articles, websites, petitions etc., then simply copy the URL (that looks like www.thewebsitename.com.au) and paste it into the box that says, ‘what’s on your mind?’. This will automatically create a preview of the website page you’re posting.
- When sharing content, you can always add your own message as a caption.
- Click ‘post’ to then share with your Facebook friends.
- Open Twitter on your mobile phone app or on your computer desktop
- If you have an account, start by hitting the ‘tweet’ button
- Attach any photos by hitting the ‘add photos or videos’ button and selecting the photo you want to tweet
- Type your message into the ‘what’s happening?’ text box
- After your text, think about what hashtags you might want to add
- You can tag politicians or other accounts in your posts so they get a notification about your tweet. Do this by adding @their_account_handle (for us that's @solarcitizens)
- Make sure your tweet does not exceed the character limit
- Click the ‘tweet’ button to send it out into the world
- Open Instagram on your mobile phone app (posting to Instagram cannot be accessed through a desktop computer).
- Start by hitting the + (plus sign) button on the bottom of the screen.
- Select the photo from your photo library you want to post.
- On the next screen, resize or edit the photo if you please.
- Write your caption, including any relevant hashtags.
- Share your post!