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Digital Media FAQ


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SAMHSA 2019 Awareness Day

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Ask Anything Digital and Social Media Teleconference Q&A

What’s the difference between social media and social marketing?
Social media and social marketing are often confused. Social marketing has been around for decades and is the application of commercial marketing techniques, such as audience analysis or message development, with the goal of changing behavior for positive social benefit. Among many things, social marketing can build partnerships, reduce discrimination, create demand for and access to services, and get families and youth involved in your system of care. Social media can be a part of your social marketing efforts, but they are not the same thing.

What are some suggestions for maintenance of the social media sites?
Before diving in to create content, start with a plan. Decide on a goal audience and key messages for the account. Designate someone with time and expertise to manage it. This person should understand both your organizational goals and social marketing goals, as well as your social media goals. They should determine what content fits with your goals, values, and brand.

Remember that managing social media accounts takes time. Create a schedule for when you will post or review ideas for new content. Set aside time for finding or creating visual content like videos and graphics. Text heavy social media posts without images do not receive as much traction.

Your social media manager should also be prepared to respond if something goes wrong. For example, there should be a plan for responding if someone comments that they are in a mental health crisis. There should also be a plan for responding to criticism of your organization or your posts. The Campaign has sample social media guidelines you can tailor and use to manage your account.

What are the best forums for engaging communities, families, and youth on social media?
The Campaign team has national data on social media trends in the document below. While national trends are helpful, it’s important to learn more about the specific social media habits of youth and families in your community. Their activities might be different from the national norms. Ask youth and families about their social media preferences at your next meeting. What platforms do they use? How and when do they use them?

When choosing a platform, also think about each platform’s functionality and how it could help you reach you goals. For instance, imagine your main goal is sharing information about events. If your audience is on Facebook and Instagram, but you only have time for one platform, you may choose to invest time in Facebook. Facebook allows you to create event pages and link to external websites. In other words, use platforms that reach your audiences and have the functionality you need to share the types of information you have.

Any tips for effectively using Instagram and YouTube? We’ve been focusing totally on Facebook, but YouTube is the 2nd most used SM platform, followed (distantly) by Instagram.
While Facebook and Twitter are generally the most popular platforms, Instagram and YouTube are also extremely popular. They are highly visual and engaging.

Here are a few best practices for YouTube:

  • Keep it short and sweet. Reach for about 16 seconds to 2 minutes of video.
  • Make it mobile friendly. More than 50 percent of people watch videos on their phones.
  • Use captivating titles and specific descriptions so people can find your video. Include links to external content where appropriate.
  • Choose an engaging image for your thumbnail to draw audiences in.
  • Add closed captioning to make the video accessible to more people.
  • Consider using YouTube “cards” for polls, donation buttons, or other audience interaction.
  • Enhance your video with watermarks, slates, or other onscreen text.
  • Engage with viewers in the comments.
  • Create playlists where you gather information linked by a common theme.

Here are a few best practices for Instagram:

  • Keep things visually engaging—Instagram is like a photo or image gallery.
  • Use lots of relevant hashtags (around 10) to help people find you. Create a list of popular hashtags for your team to regularly use.
  • Engage with your own audiences in addition to following other relevant influencers and engaging with them.
  • Use stories and live videos as a new way to engage audiences.
  • Consider sponsoring key posts and content through paid ads. They can be as little as $25 or $50. Instagram has targeted segmentation capabilities, so you can make sure your ad only reaches people from a certain geographic location, age group, etc.

How can we best evaluate or measure the effectiveness of our social media activity?
How you measure the effectiveness of your social media activity depends on your goal. For instance, if you are striving to keep your existing audience engaged and updated, measure your engagement and reach. If you are hoping to build new audiences, look at your follower count and what is helping you improve it.

How can we find content to post that is relevant to systems of care?
You could start by looking up the Awareness Day hashtag #HeroesofHope to see how SAMHSA and systems of care shared information around Awareness Day. Each year, new data about children’s mental health is released. Beth Stroul’s Return on Investment (PDF | 278 KB) report gives data on the cost savings of systems of care.

How should we leverage “stories” and “live” videos on social media? Is it just a fad?
Video seems to be the future of digital, social, and mobile marketing. Even if it ends up being a fad, hip trends gain your audience’s attention. Consider creating videos of interesting events with behind the scenes or day-of footage. You could create a morning message every day during the week of a special event or create a good night message every night. Remember that these tactics are very temporary. “Stories” on Instagram, for instance, disappear after a day. This can be a lot of effort for content that may not last. Consider archiving the content to make a mash up later.

What is search engine optimization?
When people search for information on the Internet, web content with high search engine optimization (SEO) appears at the top of the search results. More visitors reach websites that appear high on search lists.

Google constantly changes its algorithms so that people find information and answers most relevant to the questions they put in the search engine. Think about what questions your audience might ask or what terms they might search. The content and language on your website should answer those questions.

Hosting a blog on your website is a great way to constantly produce relevant content and increase your searchability. Focus on quality over quantity, though. You don’t need to blog every day if you are producing strong content.

What is the role of a website in today’s heavy social media landscape?
Websites are key to being searchable or having a high SEO. When someone searches for information about systems of care or children’s mental health in your area, websites are more likely to come up than social media.

Between your various social media accounts and website, map out your content so that each platform plays a different role for your organization. Social media tends to be more temporary and immediate, making it great for timely conversations and news. Social media also allows you to engage with others through comments, likes, etc. Websites serve as a main hub or repository of archived content. They are good for housing your contact information, resources, newsletters, etc. WordPress is an easy to use platform that many people use to create websites without having to learn how to code.

Often systems of care have multiple audiences including youth, families, and professionals. How do you address that you have three audiences on a website? Should we have separate websites or separate sections within our website?
To create compelling content, it’s often best to focus on just one audience. If you are trying to create content for multiple audiences on one website, create different sections for each. Make it obvious where different people should click within your website for content relevant to them. Consider titles like “For Parents” or “For Young Adults.”

What’s website mobile optimization and why is it important?
When a website is optimized for mobile technology it means that the information is easy to read and navigate whether the user is on a computer, phone, tablet, or other device.

If you wonder if your website is optimized for mobile, look at it on a phone. If it’s a just a shrunken version of your website that is hard to read and navigate, it’s probably not optimized for mobile. Speak with a web developer about helping to improve it.

People increasingly access information on their phones instead of on their computers. It’s important for your resources to be easy to find and use, even when people are on the go.

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Last Updated: 04/26/2022