Guidelines for social media posts for activist group?
July 11, 2020 8:05 PM   Subscribe

I lead an activist group. (The name is in my profile.) A twenty-something guy is interested in handling our social media, which has been nearly nil for about a year. For now, this would be Facebook, but possibly more later. He asked for guidelines, and I'm not sure what to tell him. Do you have any advice? He is already active on Facebook.
posted by NotLost to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
PEN America has developed "a first-of-its-kind digital toolkit, the ONLINE HARASSMENT FIELD MANUAL, based on extensive research and interviews with writers, journalists, technology experts, editors, newsrooms, and advocacy groups."

These recent articles are Facebook-related:

Black Activists Warn That Facebook Hasn’t Done Enough to Stop Racist Harassment (Pema Levy, Mother Jones, Jul. 9, 2020)

Three Big Discussions We Need to Have ASAP About AI and Social Media Moderation (Matt Bailey, PEN America, Jul. 8, 2020)
posted by katra at 9:49 PM on July 11, 2020 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I wasn't clear. We have some basic guidelines for posting within our forum. But the plan is for him to do posts using our account, to pass various info and to promote our group. The question wasn't meant to be about moderation but about promotion.
posted by NotLost at 9:52 PM on July 11, 2020


I encourage you to review the links, because they are more about strategic planning for the ecosystem of Facebook, and one aspect of that is how moderation may impact promotion, but these are possible resources to consider for how to guide promotion of an activist group, including cybersecurity, reporting to platforms and other responses, as well as legal considerations discussed in the PEN America manual.
posted by katra at 10:13 PM on July 11, 2020


If you haven't secured a Twitter or Instagram account, your volunteer should go ahead and do so, ideally with the same account name for both. Even if they won't be able to post different kinds of content suited for each platform, they can cross-post. When I used to run social media (Twitter and FB) for an organization, I tended to use FB just for org events (FB events is a really handy feature and now with covid19, FB Live is also handy) and calls to action, and Twitter for more "oh here's an interesting thing" type commentary.

But before anything, I would suggest having a quick brainstorming session with some of your core folks in the group and get a sense of what would be useful or desirable. Do you want to engage existing members? Find new volunteers? Get traction in the media? Create or strengthen connections to other groups in the region? Figuring out what your goals are, even if they aren't social media specific, will help you set some parameters for how to use social media. My personal social media is mostly about sharing info/praising cool projects and people, with the side benefit of getting to connect to folks in my professional field and maybe more unique to Twitter, connecting with folks outside of my usual circles. I forget what the suggested ratio of "professional" to "personal" tweets are, maybe 80/20, but it's important to me to stay human and a bit goofy. Do you want that for your group?

Here's a "guide for digital activism" on Medium that I found interesting as it cites academic research:
In an academic article in New Media & Society, researchers outlined several ways Twitter allowed activists to amplify their voices: "In total, we identified seven overlapping roles: facilitating face-to-face protests via advertisements and donation solicitations; live reporting from face-to-face protests; forwarding news links and retweets; expressing personal opinions regarding the movement; engaging in discussion about the movement; making personal connections with fellow activists; and facilitating online-based actions."⁷ (source: Penney, Joel and Caroline Dadas. “(Re)Tweeting in the Service of Protest: Digital Composition and Circulation in the Occupy Wall Street Movement.” New Media & Society, vol. 16, no. 1, 15 March 2015, pp. 75–90)
posted by spamandkimchi at 10:50 PM on July 11, 2020 [3 favorites]


1. I think the most useful start place to create guidelines for your online presence is with the guidelines you already have (even if only in your heads) for your IRL presence. This person needs to know:

* Your organisation's goals and priorities
* Your values
* Your key messages
* Your target audience - is he posting to give your members a sense of community and prove the value of your organisation to existing supporters/partner organisations, or is he posting to try and recruit new members? (Likely both, but you should be clear about this before he starts)
* The partners/organisations/people whose messages you want to amplify and who will do the same for you.

A very quick skim of your organisation's website suggests you have a lot of different values and goals - I see 25 separate bullet points on your Our Values page, in which case prioritising will be the key - is there one key campaign at a time (or a small number) they can focus on?

2. Then they need to know where the stuff they're going to post will come from, and what priority you want to give the various sources of material (or whether you're happy to leave that choice up to them):

* Will it just be up to them to keep an eye on what you're all doing and decide what to post, or do they only post when someone says "Bob, can you post this?"
* Do you have other regular online content they can/should promote (eg. blog posts)? Is there stuff in the blog/website archive that is timeless and worth reposting now and regularly in the future?
* Can they be added to an email or messaging group of eg. committee members so that they know about all the important things going on and can use that as a source of posts? If so, can the members of this group get into the habit of specifying which items in their messages are OK to post and which aren't? Again, can Bob use his discretion when deciding what to post from these emails, or does he need to check for permission?
* Will there be events where photos can be taken, if so will these be OK to share? Do you have/need a system in place for gaining people's permission to share their photo? What you need will probably vary depending on your locality - could be signs on the wall and announcements saying to make it known to staff/volunteers if you don't want to be photographed, could be full-on disclaimer forms for every attendee etc.
* Make sure relevant people in the organsiation have this person's contact details and know what they're doing so they can get in touch and tell them when postable things are happening. Also vice versa, so if things seem quiet Bob can hit a few people up and say 'What's going on this week, anything I should know about?'

3. In terms of creating the actual posts, they maybe need a bit of a heads up on a few things, though maybe you have no idea at the moment and will only know the answers to these when Bob starts and you think "Oh no, not like that!"

* What kind of tone do you want to hit. Serious? Challenging-the-status-quo? Angry? Compassionate? Inspiring? Funny? Shareable?
* Balance of quantity vs quality - eg. would you prefer 100s of photos from your latest fundraiser, all slightly skew-wiff but including loads of people who'll share them and spread the word, or would you prefer one beautiful shot of the keynote speaker in action?
* Branding - a horrible word but worth a moment's thought - do you want him to be creating graphics (eg. with important facts or inspiring quotes or whatever) - if so, do you have a colour scheme he needs to stick to? Do you have a logo and should it be included on everything, or just at his discretion? Do you want him to make sure your organisation's name is prominent in every graphic in case it gets shared a lot?

Source: Run social media for a couple of organisations at work, and on a voluntary basis run the twitter account for a small charity that didn't have one.
posted by penguin pie at 3:55 AM on July 12, 2020 [3 favorites]


Also: Don't have this person as the sole admin on any social media accounts - make them give you all the login details, appoint one or two others from the organisation as fellow admins. Even if the other admins do nothing, you want to be able to get into the accounts. Not necessarily because Bob is going to go rogue - more likely because he might drift off, post less and less frequently, one day everybody realises they haven't heard from him for a while and it turns out he's moved away/changed email address, taking your social media access with him.
posted by penguin pie at 4:01 AM on July 12, 2020 [5 favorites]


Seconding penguin pie, and adding to develop and implement some kind of plan to have those other admins logging in/being involved on a regular basis -- even if it is quite minimal. Not to cast any aspersions on this person who will be doing work for you, but don't find out once it's too late to fix a problem that the account info has been changed and everyone else is locked out.
posted by mccxxiii at 9:25 AM on July 12, 2020


Make sure the email address used for any social media accounts is under control of your organization. Website & hosting, too. Accounts get hijacked, volunteers ghost, etc, and it's a pain to have to fight for your account.
posted by theora55 at 10:26 AM on July 12, 2020 [1 favorite]


Thanks! These are a lot of help. I am getting a committee together to develop these guidelines. You all have given us a lot to work with.
posted by NotLost at 10:04 PM on July 12, 2020


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