"If used right, social media can be an extremely powerful advocacy tool that can reach a large audience." -Deep Ghosh, After School Ambassador, Child Center of New York, Inc.

In the age of retweets, hashtags and followers, social media is a powerful trend that provides new methods for advocacy. Digital advocacy uses technology to contact, inform and mobilize a group of concerned people around an issue or cause. Nearly 2.1 billion people around the world have active social media accounts. These online platforms are ideal tools for building support and momentum for after school education.

Social media is a low-cost, effective way to reach a large number of people, including key influencers and thought leaders in the field. It allows people to quickly share messages and real-time feedback and offers new opportunities to listen, engage and monitor progress.

The first step in leveraging social media is to create a strategy.

  • Set your objectives. What do you want to achieve? Goals can be narrow, such as publicizing an event, or broad, such as engaging with a coalition.
  • Identify the target audience. Reach out to people who are most likely to support your program and cause, such as principals, community and business leaders, and parents.
  • Select 2 or 3 social-media platforms to focus on. This should depend on the target audience; however, Facebook and Twitter are the most well-known and easy to use.
  • Gather resources and materials to share. Post information and media from your program, and visit websites such as After School Alliance and YouthToday to share after school–related information.
  • Develop a system for managing social-media efforts. Establish a content plan, and appoint someone to manage your social media presence.
  • Remember that social media is a conversation. Be genuine, remain consistent, stay focused and be reliable.

Although social media is a small piece of most digital-advocacy campaigns, it is an effective tool for maximizing after school advocacy efforts. To guide your social-media efforts, use this checklist from Community Tool Box.