Media advocacy is a new strategy that is emerging in the public health community. It has been particularly visible in communities of color. (1) Media advocacy is defined as the strategic use of mass media to advance public policy initiatives. Media advocacy is rooted in community advocacy and has as its goal the promotion of healthy public policies. It can be differentiated from traditional mass media strategies in a number of ways. Media advocacy shifts the focus from the personal to the social, from the individual to the political, from the behavior or practice to the policy or environment. While traditional media approaches try to fill the “knowledge gap,” media advocacy addresses the “power gap.” Improvements in health status are believed to come about primarily from gaining more power over the policy environment rather than simply gaining more knowledge about health behaviors.
Wondering how to use social media for advocacy? It starts with a winning strategy. The exact approach your organization uses will depend upon your issue and goals. As you build your strategy, keep your objectives and the overarching message you want to convey front and center. (2) FiscalNote’s 2021 Advocacy Benchmark Report found that Facebook was by far the number one social network for driving traffic to advocacy, Twitter is a distant second, followed by Instagram. With all the social media platforms to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. Chances are, your target audience gravitates to a few platforms, so research what those are and start there. For example, if you’re targeting a Generation Z audience, you might focus on Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. On the other hand, if your audience is in their 40s and 50s, Facebook and Pinterest might be your go-to.
Social media gives easy access to policymakers, politicians, and government officials. There’s a better chance of getting a response or interaction with a policymaker as social platforms can be a more unfiltered, informal way they communicate with constituents.
Advocates can contact their lawmakers directly on social media using VoterVoice, connecting them with local, state, and federal lawmakers, ensuring your message is heard by those with the power to enact change. Connecting with policymakers on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram can be a creative way to get their attention and be noticed by a wider audience. Nearly all policymakers are on Twitter, and a simple retweet or reply to their content can get your organization noticed.
Social media also allows you to develop relationships with members of the media since it gives you easy access to journalists, TV stations, local influencers, industry leaders, and more. Fostering genuine relationships can be as simple as a reply to a Tweet, re-sharing a Facebook post with your own commentary, or a direct message keeping them updated on newsworthy happenings within your organization.
A hashtag is a word or phrase preceded by the pound symbol, for example, #advocacyinaction or #inclusionmatters. Hashtags are an essential part of advocacy through social media. These little links within a platform allow users to find similar content and group together conversations around related topics.
What is the best advocacy for the youth? In reality, there’s no one “best” advocacy since all social issues are equally important. To give you an idea, some of the most relevant advocacies for the youth include climate change, mental health, education, and gender equality. (3) However, it’s also important to remember that the best advocacy will be one that you’re passionate about. At the end of the day, a successful advocacy campaign is only possible if you have the heart for the cause you’re supporting.