Social media is a great avenue for bringing attention to and raising awareness of the many issues that breast cancer patients face. While there is general knowledge of breast cancer, most people don't know about the everyday experience of having a breast cancer diagnosis.
You can choose to dedicate an entire social media account to advocating and sharing your experience, or you can make one-off posts when there is a specific issue you want to shine the spotlight on. Whichever option you go with, be clear about your overall message and goal by keeping the items outlined in the ‘Communicating Your Story’ guide in mind.
The following tips and guidelines provide an overview of the main social media platforms that can be used to help you connect with other social media users, extending the reach of your story, inspiring a discussion and creating needed change.
As a general rule of thumb, regardless of what platform you use, typically, the following should be avoided:
Posts accompanied by visuals get the highest amount of engagement on Facebook, so be sure to include images whenever you can. Make sure that you ask permission of individuals in the photos to share the image, or seek permission if the photo is copyrighted and provide photo credit to the photographer.
Keep in mind that many people will be accessing your posts on their smartphones, so ensure that your posts are succinct and easy to read.
Aim to respond to those who take time to comment on your content. If someone wants to learn more about an advocacy issue that you write about, have a link from a verified source that you can direct them to.
If your goal is to attract more attention to your posts, try to publish content when most Facebook users in your time zone are online. Generally, the best day and time to post is Wednesday at 11AM and 1PM. Over time, you will learn which times work best for your followers. If you create a page dedicated to sharing your story (in other words, as a Facebook business page rather than a personal Facebook account), you can also track insights into how people interact with your page to find the time that works best for you. While the time you post is important, the quality and nature of your posts matter most.
All your posts may not require a call-to-action, but if one can be applied, include it whenever possible; the more specific the request, the better.
Given that you only have 280 characters to work with, it is important to keep your message to the point. However, if you feel restricted by the 280-character limit, don’t worry, you can link tweets to each other and create a "thread" when you have a lot to say on a certain subject. Sacrificing grammar is often acceptable in the Twitterverse due to the space limit.
Engage with content that others tweet: comment, retweet, and like tweets from others who discuss similar topics to you. This will help extend the reach of the overall advocacy message and topic that matters most to you.
Give a clear call-to-action, ask a question, provide links to websites for people to learn more or request that your followers retweet your posts. Specific requests result in action and therefore, impact.
Incorporate hashtags so that people interested in what you are posting about can see it. Mention organizations and influencers (popular accounts that tweet about the same or similar advocacy topics) by tagging them in your posts. This will help your content get noticed, which is important, especially if you include a call-to-action. Twitter only allows 280 characters per tweet, so use only the most relevant hashtags. If you need to, create a thread and add the hashtags and mentions in a linked tweet.
Instagram first started out with photos. Now, it also allows users to post short videos (up to 15 seconds) and longer videos (between 1 to 15 minutes long). Content posted to Instagram Stories, which are available to viewers for 24 hours, include photos, videos, ‘Reels’, boomerangs, and much more. Leverage the various Instagram content types to increase the reach and engagement on your main posts when you share your story and advocate for an issue. For example, you can use Instagram Stories to draw attention back to your main content.
When you post photos, you will be telling your story in the captions. Even if you tell your story using longer videos, it is important to still use captions to summarize what you are speaking about in your videos. Be sure to use proper grammar, tell your story in a captivating manner, and close with a call-to-action. Instagram captions allow for 2,200 characters so take full advantage.
Follow your followers back and get to know them. Also, find organizations and influencers whose content you enjoy, learn from them and share their posts in your story if it resonates with you and the advocacy message you are trying to get across.
As with other social media platforms, use hashtags and tag relevant accounts. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags so take full advantage of this.
If you choose to tell your story using YouTube, record yourself in a space that is clean and free of clutter. It’s also important to speak loudly and clearly so that you can be heard properly. You don’t have to invest in expensive equipment if you choose to advocate via YouTube; great looking and sounding videos can be achieved from most smartphones, it’s just a matter of recording yourself in a space that is well-lit, clean and quiet.
While videos of up to 15 minutes can be uploaded (verified accounts can upload longer videos), it is important to be specific in your videos. Each video should cover one topic, that way you can provide enough details on the given topic. Be sure to end each video with a call-to-action whenever you can.
As with all other social media platforms, engage with the content that others post, ask your viewers questions and respond to comments that they leave.
Within the world of podcasting, there are various platforms or hosts that you can use. Conduct a Google search to find the pros and cons of the most popular podcasting hosts to ensure that you are using the one that is right for you.
With podcasts, all your listeners get is audio. This means that it is very important to have a great sound. You don’t need to invest in expensive equipment; achieving great sound can be as easy as recording on your smartphone with headphones in a closed, quiet room to ensure that there is no background noise.
Depending on the podcast host that you decide on, the length of audio you can upload will vary. Pick a length of time that you are comfortable with and that you can consistently stick to, in order to ensure consistency. A good length for a podcast is 15-30 minutes; this allows you to discuss one topic in depth. Plan your content ahead, this will ensure that you stick to the subject at hand and stay within your time frame. Be sure to end with a call-to-action that listeners can easily follow.