Community building through social media
Building an online community is about embracing people who share a common vision, purpose, values and who seek to solve issues together. Here are some suggested practices on building an online community to mobilize around refugee-awareness raising activities:
- Create safe online spaces by using your social media platform cautiously. Regularly encourage and reinforce the concept of a safe space on your profile or pages. In case someone is aggressive or harasses someone else, please refer to this section on digital security and dealing with trolls.
- Facilitate access to new community members by making it as easy as possible for the public to join your social media channels and participate in the dialogue. You can increase engagement by getting familiarized with anti-oppressive frameworks and being mindful of access barriers, such as the use of acronyms
- Actively encourage discussions by posting open-ended questions to encourage expression. Answer comments and questions. If you are comfortable holding a live discussion, have an announcement to make or to solicit opinions in a more interactive way. Facebook live and Twitter chats are great for real-time feedback and, engagement.
- Acknowledge participation by tagging people who comment, by addressing them directly, and by showing them attention and appreciation: they might be your next big advocates. More than Facebook likes and retweets, direct replies and shout outs can go a long way.
- Share and promote your network’s resources and initiatives. Sharing their content will show that you recognize the great work others do and welcome the opportunity to give your audience the chance to discover new resources, content and different approaches.
- Develop easy-to-follow virtual community guidelines that reflect your values and the types of discussions and values you want to foster. Here are some great sample community guidelines to inspire you.
- Connect with your online community...offline through real-life or through virtual events, such: as meetups, brainstorming sessions, teleconference calls, webinars, chats and Facebook live broadcasting to strengthen the community ties and facilitate dialogue between members. For example, if you are mobilizing people online to lobby your MP, ask your online audience members to accompany you in delivering documents at a lobby day.
- Create solutions as a collective by crowd-sourcing it and brainstorming with your virtual community through your profiles or Facebook groups.
- Follow up and update your audience with a social media post or via email to keep your community informed and engaged. For example, if you are organizing an event, live tweet the event as it unfolds, for those who could not make it. You can also use Instagram and Facebook to document your event with photos or videos (cell phone videos are just fine!). Always report back to your supporters on how it went and the next actions to take.
- Share your community’s stories to showcase and demonstrate the important difference their involvement makes.
For a list of tips, tools and advice on how to build online communities, click here.