Before We Begin

Social media is a powerful platform for organizations to meet participants where they are, build relationships, and ultimately, encourage people to sign up for their registries. Unlike printed materials, social media is used to build relationships where both parties frequently engage with one another. This engagement is defined not only in a one-time or one-way interaction where organizations and its members like or comment on each other’s posts; rather, this engagement is in having reciprocal and frequent interaction with one another by re-sharing one each other’s posts, sharing content that is valuable to both parties, and giving public recognition to each other.

However, organizations frequently misunderstand the purpose of their social media presence. Rather than using it as a social platform, organizations use social media as a broadcasting platform: as if social media is simply another channel to post announcements, news, and asks. Yet the key to building social media relationships are by treating it as a face-to-face relationship. The strategies listed below are ways to your organization begin building strong, reciprocal relationships online, and transform your online presence as a broadcaster to a social entity.

Establish Your Goals, Research, Metrics

Before we introduce the best practices in social media engagement to use for your PEER registry, we must first do some pre-work to help determine your goals, success measures, and target audience.

First, you must define what an “effective” and “successful” social media engagement looks like for your organization. The primary goal for organizations using PEER may be to increase registry sign-ups or completed surveys. However, others may have additional measures such as an increase in the number of researchers who leverage PEER data, increase in donations to support the registry, or an increase in the partnerships established.

Second, you should define and understand your target audience. It is important to describe who your audience is whether it be participants, researchers, or partners; but be sure to get specific possible: define the type of parent (mother, father caregiver), researcher (what field of study are they in?), partner (large foundations focused on your condition, corporations with philanthropic missions that align with your organization). The more specific you can narrow your audience, the more specific information you can find out about their behaviors and interests.

Furthermore, it is equally important to understand who your target audience is. Do some background research on your target audience through recent reports by Sprout Social, the Pew Research Center, and Tracx. Which social media platform do they predominately use? What kind of news and information do they seek, and where do they seek it?

Third, assess whether social media is or is not in fact the place where your organization should be. Word-of-mouth may be an even more powerful tool among your community compared to social media; doctors, for example, may be a key driver in informing your community about resources related to your condition. Once you’ve determined if social media is the predominant platform of communication for your community, determine which social media platforms have a strong foothold among your members. You may find that you only need Facebook; or you may find that you need to be on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn, and Snapchat (but most likely not!). Know how your audience uses each platform, and what each platform is best used for. To get started, view demographic information for each social media platform here.

Lastly, determine how you are going to track your success. Will you be integrating an analytics platform or through tracking sites like Mention? Remember that the number of likes and posts does not necessarily mean you didn’t meet your goals; therefore, you should specify how you will measure your engagement to reach your organizational goals.

Social Media Resources

Below are 3 resources to help you improve your social media engagement, which includes a best practices guide on social media, sample social media posts to promote the registry, and a literature review on social media and health.

Top 10 Social Media Engagement Practices
Sample Social Media Posts for PEER
Social Media Literature Review

We'd also love to hear from you! Share your best posts, social media-related articles you come across, or other best practices with our PEER community on our PEER admins listserv.