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How to use social media as an advocacy tool.

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The Free Library. (2014). Retrieved Jun 21 2014 from

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

Day included:


* 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.

Sabrina Kidwai

is ACTE’s media relations manager. She can be contacted at

[email protected]

Catherine Imperatore

is ACTE’s online media manager. She can be contacted at

[email protected]

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