Small Asks for Social Good: How SAMHSA Uses Social Media to Spread the Message of Prevention
Many organizations create observances around their mission (e.g., National Recovery Month, NCADD’s Alcohol Awareness Month) in the hopes of connecting with supporters throughout the year. Social media provides an ideal opportunity to reach and engage these audiences leading up to, and during, observances.
Since 2012, SAMHSA’s National Prevention Week has been dedicated to increasing public awareness of, and action around, substance use disorders and mental illness. This health observance encourages the public to join together to promote prevention efforts, educate others about behavioral health issues, and create and strengthen community partnerships. This year, as with recent years, SAMHSA has turned to social media to encourage and offer innovative ways for the behavioral health community to spread the message online.
On Twitter, SAMHSA is using the hashtags #NPW2014 and #IChoose2014 to promote its online assets and encourage followers to share their experiences and thoughts. Through its “I Choose” Project, SAMHSA encourages individuals and organizations to share why substance use disorder prevention and/or mental health is important to them. Participants can download an “I Choose” sign, write their message on it, take a photo of themselves holding the sign, and then send the photo to SAMHSA for display in the "I Choose" Project Flickr album.
On Facebook, SAMHSA developed a Prevention Pledge that allows individuals and organizations to show their commitment to a healthy lifestyle. When individuals take the Pledge, a brick with their name is added to a virtual brick wall. With only a few clicks, users can show their support for prevention, thus widening the community and spreading the prevention message. On YouTube, SAMHSA sparked interest in National Prevention Week by creating and publishing a short video that has received more than 4,000 views in only three months.
Over the past few years, it has become increasingly apparent how useful social media can be in helping organizations reach and engage with their audience to gain big results. Read this month’s tips to learn how your organization can leverage social media to raise awareness around an upcoming observance.
TIPS OF THE MONTH
SAMHSA’s use of social media to promote National Prevention Week 2014, which begins later this month, is a great example of how an organization can spread awareness and promote an upcoming observance online. This month’s tips focus on how organizations can stay up-to-date on the latest social trends and implement findings to best promote observances through social media.
- Develop an interactive application. By creating an application, like a pledge, your organization can engage its audience in a new, fun way. Two examples of this include SAMHSA’s Prevention Pledge and Recovery Month’s Pledge for Recovery.
- Create a hashtag. Create a hashtag and promote it everywhere – on social platforms, your website, printed materials, etc. Before you select a hashtag, search Twitter to be sure your desired hashtag is not already being used for another unrelated event or observance.
- List events online. Create a page on your site that displays upcoming events and allows your community members to post and share their events. Check out the National Prevention Week community events page for an example of how you can do this simply on your organization’s website.
- Stay up to date on social trends. Review the latest social media advancements and trends by subscribing to newsletters and following influencers on Twitter. Start with the PR Daily News Feed and @Mashable, two industry leaders.