Social Media & AOD Advocacy (2013 APSAD Conference)


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A look at ReGen's approach to advocacy and how using social media helps increase our reach and effectiveness. Considers potential challenges for AOD organisations and provides practical advice for those seeking to establish or build their online advocacy.

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  • Introduction and AcknowledgementsAcknowledge traditional ownersMention that slides are available via slideshare (ReGenUC) Who is ReGen? Today we are going to talk about: Why we’re committed to advocacy (in the absence of any funding for it) and how SM expands the potential reach and influence of our effortsConsider some of the challenges and provide some practical advice for individuals and organisations looking to increase their own advocacy
  • Historically happy being ‘quiet achievers’ – focus on service provision, not comfortable putting ourselves forward as expertsTook time to find our voice and feel confident making it heard, but it’s helped us lift our gaze to systemic issues and complements our other services in promoting both evidence-based AOD treatment and policy and a greater recognition of our consumers’ humanity. Appealing to both the head and heart. Feedback from our consumers is that they like the fact that we’re taking stand on issues that are important to them and that our approach to advocacy is consistent with their experience of our treatment services.
  • Not a new technology (as such) but a new approach to using the internet.Encourages participation – less capacity to ‘control the message’ (compared to a web 1.0 website) but much more engaging.Emphasis on interaction – talking with people rather than at them.Can be challenging for ‘message producers’ but much better practice and holds clear benefits for all partiesTransparency means opening yourself up to criticism and tests your integrity. We should be ok with this as a sector, not just with our clients but all our consumers (including the talkback ranters and ‘trolls’).Important for ReGen that how we advocate reflects our values and embodies the change that we would like to achieve – open, respectful and engaged communication that empowers the disempowered, challenges stigma and promotes social justice.Important to note that, while these risks deserve consideration, we should not be paralysed by fear. The risks are real, but often overstated.Our key message today is: ‘Don’t be afraid’, or ‘Come on in, the water’s fine’.
  • Facebook – not really for advocacy, more about providing a point of contact for members of the ReGen community (mostly current/former staff and consumers) – Regina might be talking about this in her presentation this afternoon.YouTube – where we store our public videosLinkedIn – not very – couldn’t change the URL after rebrand
  • Building new communities of interest, locally and internationally – potential amplification of impact (example of Sunbury media release: no interest from Aus traditional media but published on website, promoted via SM, picked up by DrugScope and run with by Stephen Parkin – template needlestick response) Democratisation of production – more channels to choose from and self-publishing is much more direct: more control over how messages are presented than with traditional media (no intermediaries to shape messages to their own ends) but also more exposed to feedback (good and bad) The use of social media also allows us to establish better relations and access with traditional media outlets. Many journalists source materials from Twitter.
  • Journalists love Twitter. It allows them easy access to breaking news, helps them source material and give voice to all the opinions they aren’t able to express in their publications.It also makes them more accessible to us. We’ve found Twitter to be effective in raising our profile with individual journalists and mainstream media outlets. Our curation of media coverage at our page provides both a convenient platform for storing articles and provides regular ‘content’ for SM postings. The effort we put into our curation provides a resource to the sector (locally and overseas) and shows we’re paying attention. Like the rest of us, journalists love it when you recognise their work. It helps if you have something to say. We’re committed to putting out regular media releases and other advocacy materials. SM provide great vehicle for reaching audiences who don’t subscribe to VAADA ENEWS or ADCA Updates. This means we’re less reliant on traditional media to get our messages out.As our online profile has grown, we’ve been receiving more regular requests from tv and print journalists. Unfortunately, we can’t offer them what they usually want (a client to tell their story).SM also support the integration of our various communications platforms (website, newsletters, email…). Hyperlinks are the glue that bind them all together. They enable multiple pathways to a single document. If you look at most of our tweets, the text is really just there to entice you into clicking through to the full article, report, media release…
  • New media sites provide an alternative platform for your messages. They are more open to submissions from outside journalism but are closely followed by journalists. The Conversation has a focus on research, but we have had some success in publishing opinion pieces with Croakey. Getting published on this platform helps us reach a far wider audience than we would through SM alone.Individual bloggers (e.g. Monica, Stonetree) come to provide an important platform for analysis of developments within the AOD sector and wider society and advocacy.Curation takes many forms and there are a range of tools to help you collect, organise and distribute your curated material. We use It’s easy to use and it’s integrated with Twitter and FB. SM platforms are increasingly compatible with each other, so it’s becoming easier to post to multiple platforms. It’s good to see other organisations taking up curation e.g. Lives Lived Well – scoop.itTV – live Twitter chat on shows like Insight & Lateline provide great opportunities to reach new audiences – can also provide closest analogue to calling talkback radio
  • ChallengesFor most organisations, advocacy generally isn’t funded. Depending on your approach, the best time to communicate with your audiences might be outside work hours. Some of your followers will be overseas. For those who are also active in a private capacity, this can increase the risk of not being able to ‘unplug’ or add complexity to the task of distinguishing between their private and professional identities.There is an enormous amount of information available. There is a typical pattern for anyone starting out: initial confusion, followed by an exponential growth in awareness of what’s out there.There are many intangible benefits (increased agency profile, bigger audience, increased collegiality), but the work is not funded. Making a business case can be difficult. It means doing even more stuff for free.StrategiesWork out how you can fit it into your day – scheduled times and opportunistic use of spare 10 min blocks.Once you’ve got a feel for what’s involved, try to keep it contained. Easier said than done. It’s usually something that requires ongoing attention.For the sake of consistency and continuity, it’s good to have 1 or 2 people to do the ongoing management, but encourage other staff to get involved (e.g. at conferences). Increasing staff capacity across the organisation is also an important risk management strategy. If you decide web 2.0 is important to your organisatoin, it shouldn’t all depend on one person.If you trust staff to answer their phones and represent the organisation externally, they should be able to use your SM accounts.
  • These were written particularly with social media in mind, but are broadly applicable to any web 2.0 approach (or any social gathering)It’s obvious, but you don’t need to have a fully-fledged SM strategy before you open an account. You don’t need to do anything with it, but you should have it ready, even if it’s just to reserve the name (as you would with registering URLs)E.g. with Twitter, understand the basics like RTs, DMs & hashtagsAOD agencies are starting to realise that, once you know the basics, SM is really not that complicated. Follow some people, watch what they’re doing and get to know the etiquette. The little things (like acknowledging your sources) are important.Being introduced by an established player is one way to get an initial following.It’s a friendly environment that relies mostly on goodwill. Very few people are getting paid to do it, so be willing to contribute. Showing interest in what others are doing also goes a long way. Once you’re established, be welcoming to newcomers.Don’t try too hard. Don’t act younger (or cooler) than you are. Represent your organisation’s values consistently.Don’t be that guy at the bbq who only wants to talk about himself.Unless you say something particularly stupid (or offensive), chances are you won’t draw any significant ire from your target audiences or the wider public. If someone does decide to pick a fight, be assertive and constructive (basic clinical practice principles apply). How you respond to contact probably provides the best indicator of your organisation ‘walks the walk’. Remember, other people will probably be watching.It’s like building any new relationship. It takes time. Don’t get discouraged if it seems that people aren’t listening. We all make them. Apologise and move on.
  • It’s not that complicated, get to know the basics then work the rest out as you go. Times (and platforms) change, the longer you spend planning, the more likely your plans will be obsolete when you get around to implementing them.Remember, it’s about conversation. If you’re not listening, chances are people have stopped listening to you. The more engaging you are, the more likely your followers will be to contribute content of their own and provide you with ideas.SM doesn’t exist for the sole purpose of helping your agency achieve its goals. It’s a community. That means give and take. Support your competitors. The great majority of ReGen’s tweets are not about ReGenDon’t ask for RT’s/likes unless it’s important (and even then, probably still don’t do it).Being provocative might get you on Today Tonight (or generate a SM firestorm), but it probably won’t help win hearts and minds. ‘overnight success’ is usually a long time in coming. See it as a long term project and look to build an engaged audience organically. If you’re interesting, people will (eventually) pay attention.Posting cat videos may get you clicks, but is it really helping you get your message out to your intended audience?Justin Bieber may have 47 million followers, but he’s not going to follow you. Focus on finding people who are interested in what you’re interested in.Just because one agency has done it a particular way, doesn’t mean you have to. Find your own voice. If that involves rantingYour account will probably be hacked by spammers at some point. There will be some minor inconvenience to your followers. Change your password (quickly), apologise and move on. It’s a common event, people will understand.
  • Focus on making your website a meeting place. Remember your it’s not just a brochure it’s a place for interaction, include the provision for people to tweet, like, comment and respondThe future is mobile. Your website should be too. Depending on your audience, your consumers can be some of your most powerful advocates.Put everything (within reason) on your website and link to it via SM. Encourage comment (and respond to it) Many organisations still block SM access. Smartphones make this irrelevant. SM should be recognised as an opportunity, not a threat.The people who know most about SM probably aren’t in senior management.Don’t park SM with a specialist comms person or CEO: use people with clinical knowledge. If you trust staff to represent your organisation at meetings or conferences, they should be trusted with the keys to your SM account.Understand the risks, but don’t be intimidated. Start small and build as you gain experience and confidence. The sky probably isn’t going to fall in.It does take time. The rewards won’t be immediate (or financial), but they’re worth the effort (if you do it properly).Integration is key. Everything should fit together, be consistent with your organisation’s values and support. It doesn’t have to happen all at once, but keep working on it.Cultural ChangeNeed to tip everything upside down and shake it around a little...but probably slowlyCommunications governance paradigms turned upside downEnabling people from across the org to communicate on behalf of the organisationThis allows for reciprocal, authentic and responsive communications Should be safe guarded by clearly articulated, plain worded policy Start small with a selection of interested people from across the org.
  • Social Media & AOD Advocacy (2013 APSAD Conference)

    1. 1. Social media & advocacy The challenges and opportunities for AOD services Paul Aiken, Evaluation & Communications Team Leader @ReGenUC
    2. 2. How did we get here? The Catalyst APSAD 2008 – Ingrid van Beek Finding our voice • Identifying our expertise • Having something to say Getting ourselves heard • Opening up, taking a position • Reaching new audiences • New media
    3. 3. Web 2.0 (& SM) in a nutshell • Emphasises interactivity & collaboration • • • • Social networks Blogs File/video sharing, AND Websites • Benefits • • • Consumer participation Transparency Collegiality • Risks • • • Giving up control (scary) You might not like what people have to say Brand management (‘trolls’)
    4. 4. What’s ReGen doing? Website • Transparency, comments • Advocacy content – base for hyperlinks Social media • Twitter – advocacy (@ReGenUC) • Facebook – community (ReGenUC) • YouTube – AV repository (ReGenUC) • LinkedIn – recruitment (regenuc) Curation • (err… moreland hall)
    5. 5. Advocacy • Global & local • Democratisation of production • ‘Old’ & ‘new’ media
    6. 6. Benefits of social media Old media • Increased engagement with journalists • • Raised profile through curation/SM activity Readily contactable by producers • Increased audience for unpublished media releases • • • Twitter Website Email updates (VAADA, ADCA, DrugScope)
    7. 7. ReGen’s Experience New media • Online publishing • • • • Blogs Croakey The Conversation DrinkTank • Curation • • • Live commentary • TV (dual screening)
    8. 8. Time management Challenges • Extra work • Work/life balance • Brain explosion • Not funded Strategies • Develop a routine • Set some limits • Share the load • Trust your staff
    9. 9. ReGen’s top ten tips for new (and old) players The basics 1. Open an account 2. Get to know the platform 3. Learn about the community 4. Introduce yourself (when you’re ready) 5. Be friendly and engaged 6. Be authentic and consistent 7. Think about what will interest people 8. Be responsive (especially to criticism) 9. Be persistent 10. Acknowledge your mistakes
    10. 10. Ten things to avoid 1. Don’t overthink it 2. Don’t broadcast 3. It’s not all about you 4. Don’t be needy or annoying 5. Don’t confuse controversy with debate 6. Don’t expect to ‘go viral’ 7. Don’t do gimmicks 8. Don’t chase celebrities 9. Don’t copy ‘Brand X’ 10. Don’t obsess about security
    11. 11. What can AOD organisations do? 1. Allow comments on their website 2. Think mobile 3. Encourage more consumer participation 4. Adopt a culture of transparency 5. Encourage staff to use SM 6. Recognise SM expertise amongst staff 7. Decentralise – trust your staff 8. Be willing to take (calculated) risks 9. Recognise the costs (but do it anyway) 10. Integrate web 2.0 approaches across your organisation
    12. 12. Join the conversation https:/