When Barack Obama ran for President in 2008, he not only used a
grassroots campaign to reach out to his constituents, he also utilized
social media. President Obama is often referred as the “Social
Media President”. Because of how he used Twitter and Facebook as a
means of communicating his messages. Since Obama’s run for
President, other politicians and federal government officials have
sought to capitalise on social media’s reach by creating their own
Facebook, YouTube and Twitter accounts. Policymakers are engaging in
social media to not only interact with their local communities. To
keep their constituents informed about upcoming meetings, speeches and
visits, as well as campaign news. For example, Rep. Glenn Thompson
(R-PA), co-chair of the Congressional Career and Technical Education
(CTh) Caucus, made a speech about the importance of CTE on the House
floor in June, which was shortly followed by a blog post as well as
updates on Facebook and You Tube.
Social Media Primer
There are a number of tools in the ever-changing and often
overwhelming social media landscape. What follows is a quick review of
the major types of social applications.
* Blogs, in which the user posts content open for comment from
readers, are one of the oldest types of social media. Microblogs, where
the user is limited to very short updates, have soared in popularity
over the past few years. The most well-known of these is Twitter, which
limits you to 140 characters per post.
* Facebook, the world’s largest social network, is a vibrant
personal and professional network, while Linked In is a social network
with a professional emphasis. In addition to these general networks,
location-based social networking such as Foursquare and Facebook Places,
as well as event-based social networking through Meetup and Facebook
Events, are on the rise.
* There are a host of multimedia tools such as YouTube for posting
videos online, SlideShare for slide presentations and Skype for making
online calls worldwide.
Why You Need to Use Social Media as an Advocacy Tool
Social media is an important tool in your advocacy toolbox and a
method you can use to educate media. Members of Congress. State
policymakers about the critical need for GTE-especially as America faces
tight budgets and a stagnating economy. A majority of politicians are
using blogs, Twitter. YouTube and Facebook to communicate with the
public. Facebook and Twitter provide politicians an opportunity to
introduce bills and publicise visits, while YouTube gives policymakers a
chance to share video of speeches and make announcements. For example,
Newt Gingrich announced his 2012 run for president on Twitter and
YouTubE. In addition, President Obama and members of his administration,
including Education Secretary Arne Duncan, use social media regularly.
Want to educate Secretary Duncan about your CTE program? Send him a
tweet about how your program graduates students, lowers dropout rates,
or provides adults with certificates. You can also post your story on
the U.S. Department of Education’s Facebook page.
Members of the media also employ social media tools to share
information with their readers and to find sources for future stories. A
national survey of reporters and editors revealed how they use social
media. For instance:
* 89 percent use blogs for story research
* 65 percent turn to social media sites like Facebook and Linkedln
* 52 percent use Twitter
Businesses that rely on CTE are using all of the above-mentioned
tools to connect with their customers and their future workforce. For
instance, CEV Multimedia, a producer of multimedia educational
materials, shares CTE news and success stories on Facebook and Twitter
and posts video lesson previews on YouTube.
ACTE’s Social Media Success
The Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE) has been
using social media for the past three years to interact with education
reporters and editors from around the country. ACTE has responded to
media requests for data and resources, resulting in 13 stories published
recently. In addition, ACTE has been increasing its use of social media
for general and targeted advocacy, notably through the
Association’s first CTE Social Media Advocacy Day.
When the Fiscal Year 2011 budget negotiations took a turn for the
worse for CTE, ACTE decided to mobilise its growing online network for
its first Social Media Advocacy Day on February 17. ACTE staff set
certain goals: 250 tweets and/or Facebook updates and 50 blog posts–all
about the benefits of CTE. How important maintaining funding for the
Perkins Act is to the economy and workforce. That day, our social
networks were so busy it was difficult to keep up with the stream of
messages. Updates ranged the gamut from data on CTE’s efficacy and
stories of student success to dircct appeals to legislators to save
Perkins funds. The final results of ACTE’s Social Media Advocacy
* 475 original tweets and re-tweets on Twitter
* 42 Facebook updates
* 12 blog posts
As you can see, Twitter was the most active network for social
media advocacy that day. This may be due, at least in part, to how
easily and quickly Twitter can be updated. Not surprisingly, blog posts,
which Lake the most time to compose, were the least used advocacy
method. ACTE staff will take this data into account when preparing
future online advocacy campaigns.
Starting Your Own Online CTE Advocacy Campaign
The first step when using social media as an advocacy tool is to
determine which platforms make the most sense for your particular needs.
Start with a search for the policymakers and media you want to reach.
ACTE has created a social media advocacy page on its Web site with a
list of legislators and the social media sites they're using. This can
serve as a starting point. If you're acting not just for yourself, but
on behalf of a group such as an ACTE State Association, be sure to
survey your colleagues to see which social tools they already use. If
you find a correlation between where your desired audience is
communicating online and the platforms your fellow educators arc using,
that's the online network for you.
Once you've picked one or more platforms for your social media
advocacy, you can begin crafting your CTE advocacy messages. Try using
the sample messages provided by ACTE on its social media advocacy page;
you can tailor them to your particular economic and political situation.
Good messages will share at least one of the following: the benefits
students derive from CTE classes and accreditation, the gains students
reap because of CTE courses and career-technical student organization
activities, the benefits businesses get from hiring CTE students. How
Perkins funding has enabled CTE and improved student outcomes.
When creating your social media advocacy messages, bear the
following in mind:
* Keep it short and direct.
* Employ data and stories.
* Use strong but respectful language that makes your point clear
without descending into rudeness this can dilute your message and lead
to removal from social networking sites.
* Provide links for more information.
* Re-tweet others’. Messages when relevant to your cause, and
thank them for participating.
Social Media Management
In conjunction with your social media advocacy, you'll need to
manage and track the results of your efforts. The following tools can
help you quickly and easily access your social networks, schedule
updates. Monitor your impact.
With HootSuite you can manage multiple social networks at once,
including Facebook, Twitter, Linkedln, Myspace, Foursquare, and
WordPress. You can also track the use of a particular hashtag. (This is
a keyword that begins with the hash or pound symbol that makes it easier
to track your social media advocacy efforts. ACTE uses #GareerTechEd to
engage the ACTE community.) HootSuite includes a scheduling function so
that you can plan future posts. A statistics module that reports how
often the links you share have been clicked. It also shortens those
links so that they take up less room when you're composing your
To measure the exposure that your tweets generate, check out
TweetReach. It analyzes your tweets to give you a picture of the reach
you've achieved across the Web. If you’ve picked Facebook as your
online advocacy platform of choice, try Facebook Insights. This built-in
statistics program allows page administrators to access data such as
number and demographics of active users. The “likes”. And
comments that your page has generated.
Accessing Social Media at School
Unfortunately, your school or district may block social media sites
that'd be useful for CTE advocacy, professional development and
student learning. However, you can be proactive in opening up social
media in your school. Find out the Internet use policies in your
institution or district. The procedure for requesting that a Web
site be unblocked. You may need to work with an administrator or a
technology staffer on this process. When making your case for unblocking
a site, include data and a strong justification for why the site will be
useful to you and your students.
Mobile Advocacy–In addition to exploring social media for
advocacy, ACTE has established a mobile advocacy group. Receive alerts
on your mobile phone when urgent action is needed on CTE issues. To sign
up to it., text CTEAIERT to 88202. you'll be contacted only when it's
vital that you act. Instance, when important legislation is coming
up for a vote.
ACTE Social Media Advocacy
ACTE on Twitter
ACTE on Facebook
ACTE on LinkedIn
Interested in exploring this topic further? Discuss it with your
colleagues on the ACTE forums at www. acteonline.org/forum.aspx.
is ACTE’s media relations manager. She can be contacted at
is ACTE’s online media manager. She can be contacted at