Social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, provide individuals and organizations with an easily accessible, cost-effective way to interact with a diverse and expansive audience. Social media also offers measurable results, giving users an opportunity to analyze trends and adjust messaging as needed.
There are many different ways to promote Recovery Month and local organizations through social media. Always remember when working with social media that nothing is ever deleted. Also, to keep friends or networks continually interested be positive and keep posts or statuses timely, optimistic, and thought-provoking.
Keep in mind your goal is to spread positive messages and promote awareness of mental and/or substance use disorders, prevention, treatment, and recovery.
Get Started with Using Social Media Tools
From the start, set your objectives. For example, you could aim to increase your Twitter followers by 10% each month, or write a new blog post each week. Keep goals in mind when creating a personal profile, account, or page, and remember you can start small and build the conversation on other platforms later.
Start by searching social networking sites for organizations or social media users that have similar objectives. Below are some tips that can foster shared support for Facebook, Twitter, or a blog.
- Post positive statements on another user’s wall
- “Like” another Facebook page
- “Follow” another Twitter account
- Update a status to promote another page or initiative: by placing an “@” in front of the user’s name on Facebook or Twitter, for example @RecoveryMonth, a status will link directly to the Recovery Month Facebook or the Recovery Month Twitter site, depending on which platform you are on
- Recommend that friends visit Facebook or Twitter
- Share or re-tweet a positive message about prevention, treatment, or recovery issues
- Promote another page’s event if it relates to Recovery Month messaging
- Comment on a helpful blog post and share it through a personal blog
Use Blogs to Reach Out
Blogs can create online communities for people with similar interests or who support the same causes, such as recovery from mental and/or substance use disorders. A regularly updated blog can share information and opinions, and encourage people to react and respond through comments.
Blogging requires a significant time commitment. Coming up with regular new content and posts are factors that make a blog successful. If you can’t post new entries consistently, you can participate in existing conversations on other blogs, rather than starting a personal blog.
Before you create a personal blog, or one for an organization, gauge existing blogs and what topics they discuss. By researching other blogs, you can determine the most relevant topics for discussion, as well as how to differentiate your blog from others.
If you decide to start a personal blog, many websites offer guidance. Once you begin to post, use sites such as Facebook or Twitter to cross-promote.
You can also participate in existing conversations about your issue. Consider the following to help connect with others on message boards and blogs:
- Be transparent. Comment under your own name and share your background on the information posted.
- Comment on other people’s blog posts. Let others know about the resources available to help them combat a mental and/or substance use disorder. Also, direct people to the Recovery Month website.
- Offer resources and support. Prevention, treatment, and recovery services are sometimes offered online, and anonymous users may post messages about their own recovery journey.
Engage Your Audience on Facebook
Facebook offers two ways to join: through a personal account or an official page account.
- To start a personal account, you should provide your name and email address. A personal Facebook page may feature contact information (if provided), interests, photos, and videos. You can determine the privacy settings to control what friends or other Facebook users can see.
- An official page is used to promote organizations, companies, or causes. These pages are entirely public, so non-Facebook users can view them as well.
Once an account is created:
- Find other Facebook members by using the search function, and “like” any pages of interest.
- Share resources or link to reputable sites that are helpful to those visiting your page, such as prevention, treatment, or recovery services in your local community.
- Create an “event” and send invites to friends to publicize a Recovery Month event.
- The invitation should include the location, the date and time, a brief description of the event, and any interesting or related links.
- Encourage participants to RSVP to the event through the “going,” “maybe,” or “not going” buttons.
- Consider creating an online event, such as a rally or a forum, and invite Facebook friends who are interested in Recovery Month to join and chat with others who actively promote prevention, treatment, and recovery.
Engage Your Audience on Twitter
Twitter allows “tweets,” or text-based posts up to 140 characters long, to be displayed on a user’s profile page. Tweets are publicly accessible unless you change the privacy settings. “Following” another Twitter account shows interest in what they tweet, and lays the groundwork for building a relationship. The site is easy to use and allows users to choose a Twitter username, write a short biography, and choose an account icon image.
Some Twitter features that can help promote Recovery Month:
- Use the search function and look up keywords related to Recovery Month or mental and/or substance use disorders to find conversations on the topic, or users who have related interests or messages. You can follow users who have similar interests, retweet, and reply to their tweets when appropriate. This is a great way to gain followers and increase engagement.
- Retweet an interesting tweet to share the information with others. To do this, hit “Retweet” or add a “RT” in front of the text so other Twitter users realize that it is a retweet, and feel free to add commentary if you support the message. For example, “YourUserName: I’ll take the pledge today! @RecoveryMonth: 2 for Me, 2 for You. Take our Pledge 4 Recovery Challenge and show your support for recovery!”
- Show support to Twitter users who post on a personal feed by replying to their post. This can be done by using an “@” symbol directly before a Twitter user’s name. Also consider replying to a tweet by clicking “Reply” at the bottom of the tweet. By replying this way, you enable others to open the details of both the original tweet and any following replies.
- Create or use a hashtag—“#” with a key phrase—to allow users to easily search and find a personal tweet using this key phrase. For example, using #RecoveryMonth will place a tweet into the discussion about Recovery Month.
- Send direct messages, or private tweets, to another Twitter user to communicate privately.
- Host a Twitter chat about a specific topic using a unique hash tag so that followers can participate in the conversation. Twitter chats are a great way to connect and interact with followers, increase the number of followers to a user’s page, and promote Recovery Month messages. For instance, Recovery Month has hosted Twitter chats on topics including prevention and early intervention, recovery support services, and behavioral health care within the military community.
Twitter is an effective way to quickly inform about general updates, events, or anything of interest to the behavioral health community. By bringing members together, online communities can serve as a support system. Be sure to start following @RecoveryMonth for information about upcoming events, personal stories of recovery, resources, and general conversation about the benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery.
What to Do if Someone is Posting Inappropriately
If a friend on Facebook or a follower on Twitter is offensive, you can “defriend,” stop following the person, or even block him or her from viewing your profile. If someone’s actions are inappropriate or threatening, contact the respective social media network’s administrator and file a report.
Join Other Social Media Outlets
In addition to Facebook and Twitter, you can use other social media applications to successfully spread ideas and communicate the Recovery Month message through video, photo, and location-based communication. The following applications can be helpful in promoting your event. SAMHSA does not necessarily endorse these tools.
- Use YouTube to upload videos with positive messages about Recovery Month, mental and/or substance use disorders, and the benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery. To find others with similar interests, subscribe to different channels and comment on enjoyable videos. When uploading videos, choose the right category and use detailed descriptions and tags so other users can easily find uploaded content. Also, remember to edit the properties for a video to allow all comments, require approval for each comment, or block all comments if needed.
- Use Flickr to display images and videos of Recovery Month events. Tag and title them with specific keywords, such as an organization or event name, so they can be searched online easily. Join a Flickr group that has similar interests and comment on their discussion boards or photos. If one does not exist, create your own group and encourage others to contribute.
- Use Foursquare to “check in” and leave tips at Recovery Month event locations using applications on smartphones, for example, iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Palm, or mobile Internet. This alerts other Recovery Month supporters about the specific location of an event, any networking opportunities in your community, or an experience you recommend for others.
- Use Google+ to organize connections in “Circles” to share specific information with certain groups of people or to host a virtual room live-stream or “Hangout” with up to 10 people at a time.
- Use Pinterest, a virtual pin board, that allows users to share images found on the Internet to spread the message of recovery and treatment. Connect with other users by posting and “repining” images such as inspirational photos, motivational quotes, and relevant infographics. Organize photos by creating different pin boards and encourage other users to add to personal boards.
- Use Instagram to quickly and easily share photos taken on a smartphone. Instagram is a mobile application that allows iPhone and Android users to easily filter and upload the photos they take and share them with friends and followers on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. Upload a photo from a Recovery Month event to Instagram in real time.
- Use Vine to cut and edit up to six seconds of looping video and share it with friends and followers on Vine, Facebook, or Twitter.