Advocacy 101

Anyone who thinks that they are too small to make a difference has never tried to fall asleep with a mosquito in the room!

Everyone is an advocate for something. It’s part of the human experience and part of everyone’s DNA, however, the difference lies in the focus. Making a difference for others, as well are yourself, and that for systematic change is where we are focusing on in this Advocacy 101.

Advocacy can mean many different things, but in general, it means to “take action or opposition of a cause or issue.” Advocacy can be done through educating, outreach, and through grassroots organizing which we will touch on later.

The main difference in advocacy and lobbying is the intent and tone of the message.

Advocacy is educating and asking others to consider your position. Lobbying is telling someone what you want them to do. Often advocacy is well received when dealing with issues you are passionate about and if done correctly can really help build bridges of understanding with those you are reaching, including legislators.

Think of it this way: Would you prefer to hear someone tell you “walk with me” or would you prefer to hear someone tell you “go over there”? That’s the difference!

It’s also important to note that many times non-profits cannot participate in lobbying because of some funding resources that are bound to governmental agencies as well.

We all have questions and fears right?

Am I qualified to be an advocate? I don’t know enough! My voice doesn’t matter! It’s just so scary! I just don’t have time! My speaking up won’t make a difference, so what’s the point?!

Let us break this down into a few points:

If you have a story, and a unique experience that you are passionate about and you think a change needs to be made . . . do it! Your story, intermixed with verifiable resources, is enough! (That doesn’t mean Wikipedia!)

Your voice matters because no one knows your experience as you do. People who make a difference are people who were affected to a point where they had to step up, speak up and step out! You’ve got this!

It can seem scary but remember two things: You are an expert because of your experience, and everyone puts on their pants one leg at a time.

Although you may speak to someone who seems to be more important, such as a lawmaker, they are just people who need to hear your story. When you can accept that the foundation of your passion is created by a unique experience and verified supportive information then fear becomes your greatest strength.

Now, let’s get real and personal!

If you have time to watch television, go out for dinner, or dwell on how much time you do not have to advocate then you have the time to send an email, make a phone call, post on social media or send a letter to the editor.

We make time for what is important to us, and advocates are only as active as they choose to be. If you are passionate about an issue, you will find the time.

Remember – Your Voice Matters.

If you don’t speak up, who will? Chances are you are not alone. Regardless of differences in experiences, there are people who have experiences similar enough that a grassroots advocacy effort will help make a change.

Speaking up is important because the voice of advocacy has led to the creation of laws and human rights. Someone had to speak up, right? That could be you! What an opportunity!

You’ve got this! Go make a difference!

Effective advocates know that getting their message across to policymakers typically requires more than a single letter or meeting. It’s important to build a working relationship by creating a long-term relationship!

Here are some tips for building relationships for advocacy:

Research and Know
Do some research on who you will be speaking with before you meet with them. Look up any personal history and activities specific to your issue. If you are meeting a legislator discover what is their voting record is and their what their political background is, but don’t limit your search to your representative and senator.

Research other legislators who have been champions of your issue in the past and those in leadership roles such as committee chairs and caucus leaders. Research other key policymakers such as the Governor or state department heads.

Make Contact
The next thing to do is to make contact. Communicate by phone, email (or regular mail), social media, or by arranging a meeting and introducing yourself.

Be Visible
Attend meetings and events, as well as other community events. Re-introduce yourself and let influencers and policymakers get to know you before you need them. Often advocates find that wearing similar clothing makes them noticeable. Either a consistent look or color scheme enables you to stand out and be memorable.

Be a Resource
For the most part, those you need to reach out to are not experts on your issues. Make sure that they (and any of their staff) know that you are available to answer questions or provide information. Offer to be the knowledge leader for them!

Always Express Gratitude and Appreciation
After every meeting follow-up with a thank, you note. Written is best, but an email will be better than no thank you at all.

Make an Effort to Stay in Touch
Relationships require constant nurturing. Stay up-to-date with what they are doing by following the media. Congratulate them on any success they may have.

References:
American Public Health Association (n.d.) Tips for making a visit to your policy-maker. Retrieved from http://www.apha.org/NR/rdonlyres/D5EC69B8-B82C-4E3A-912D-8B5203960B9D/0/TipsforMakingaVisittoYourPolicyMaker.pdf
Connecticut Health Policy Project (n.d.).

Visiting with a policymaker. Retrieved from http://www.cthealthpolicy.org/toolbox/legislative/visiting_policymaker.htm
Union of Concerned Scientists (2013). How to have an effective visit with your policy maker. Retrieved from http://www.ucsusa.org/action/meeting-with-legislators.html

A personal visit is one of the most efficient methods of advocating and making a lasting impression. It provides an opportunity to share your full story and express your concerns. It also allows time for a question and answer session and improve both of your understanding of the issues.

Below are some steps for helping you coordinate a visit:

Request an Appointment
Contact who you would like to meet and tell them who you are as well as the topic you would like to discuss.

Practice for the Meeting
It’s a good idea to practice what you want to say before the meeting. Know what you want to say. If it’s a short meeting, then prepare accordingly!

Call to Confirm Your Appointment
Contact the office a few days before your appointment to ensure you are still on the schedule for the meeting.

Introductions
At the meeting be sure to introduce yourself then start with something positive. Offer a compliment or a thank you for taking the time to meet with you.

Take Initiative
Take the initiative by stating clearly and concisely what you want to discuss, what your position is. Provide facts supporting your views and a personal story to support these points.

Make a Connection
Make a connection by showing how your issue or concern will affect others including the local community of the person you are meeting with.

Be Flexible
Meetings rarely go exactly how you may have practiced them. The person you are meeting with may bring up or focus on other topics you feel are unrelated but attempt to steer the conversation back to your area of concern, but always be polite.

Allow Time for Questions
If you don’t know the answer, don’t make up an answer. Always offer to get back with them to the answer for their questions. Let them know you will work on it as soon as you leave the meeting and then follow through and provide it as soon as possible!

Provide Materials to Support your Position
Prepare in advance any leave behind materials along with your contact information. Make sure that what you leave behind is a “quick read” and is something that is “skimmable.” Offer to supply more detailed information!

Always End with a Thank You
Remember that their time is very valuable and thank them for taking the time to meet with you regardless of whether they agree with your position or not.

Follow Up
Take notes while the meeting is still fresh in your memory. After the meeting immediately write down your impressions, comments, and commitments as well as any tasks you need to do.

Always Send a Thank You Card
Promptly send a thank you letter. In this letter, you can reiterate your key points, remind them of any commitments made, give any follow-up information you promised to provide, and once again thank them for the opportunity to meet.

Etiquette and Other Tips:
Always dress nice, arrive on time, and always be respectful! Remember your goal is to create a working partnership.

 

References:
American Public Health Association (n.d.) Tips for making a visit to your policy-maker. Retrieved from http://www.apha.org/NR/rdonlyres/D5EC69B8-B82C-4E3A-912D-8B5203960B9D/0/TipsforMakingaVisittoYourPolicyMaker.pdf
Connecticut Health Policy Project (n.d.).

Visiting with a policymaker. Retrieved from http://www.cthealthpolicy.org/toolbox/legislative/visiting_policymaker.htm
Union of Concerned Scientists (2013). How to have an effective visit with your policy maker. Retrieved from http://www.ucsusa.org/action/meeting-with-legislators.html

Policymakers expect to receive phone calls from the public. This is one of the ways they can hear from their constituents and make informed decisions.

Preparation
Do you know who your legislator is? CLICK HERE to find your legislator. Look up the office number of your policymaker.

Plan What You Want to Say
Be prepared to state your name, where you live, issue or area of concern, and the specific action you would like the policymaker to take or know that you support.

Identify Yourself
Let your legislator know you are a constituent. Legislators are much more likely to be responsive to the people who are responsible for keeping them in office. Ask if this is a good time to talk, and if not, ask them when would be a good time to call them back.

Follow your plan. Share briefly. Then listen.

End With Thank You
Leave a message (if necessary). Sometimes policymakers are unavailable, and if this is the case, you may need to leave a message with his/her office staff or on a machine.

Be polite if you speak with office staff because they can have influence in conveying your message! Your message should be brief and include your name, where you live, the issue or concern, the specific action you would like the policymaker to take, a phone number and the best time to reach you if they have any questions.

Sample Script:

“Hi. My name is Joe Blow. I’m calling for Representative Roberts. I live at 123 Advocacy Avenue in your district.”

If you get the policymaker, ask: “Is this a good time to talk?”

If not, ask: “What would be a good time for me to call back?”

If you get an answering machine, leave a brief message: “I’m calling to share my concern with _____________. I wanted to encourage you to consider ___________. Please call me at (555) 555-5555 if you have any questions. Again, thank you for your time and letting me share my concern with __________. Thank you.”

Follow Up
Stay in contact, if you were unable to answer a question during the initial call. Call them back with any new information. Stay positive and don’t be discouraged if you don’t receive a returned call after a couple of days. Just call them back.

References
Connecticut Health Policy Project (n.d.). Calling a policymaker. Retrieved from http://www.cthealthpolicy.org/toolbox/legislative/calling_policymaker.htm

Letters are an important tool in advocacy. Legislators expect to receive mail and email from constituents. They rely on input from the public to fulfill their role and help them decide how they will vote.

Writing down your thoughts gives you time to think through what you want to say and ensure that your message is clear and concise. A letter is also a permanent method of communication as policymakers can refer to it as needed.

Here are some basic steps for writing an effective advocacy letter:

Start with your Personal Contact Information
Include your name, address, phone number and email on the top of your letter. Don’t rely on your return address on the envelope because envelopes often get separated from the letters.

Put a Date on Your Letter
I’m sure you can understand the importance of dating your letter. It’s great to have as a point of reference of when you sent the letter.

Write the Policymaker’s Contact Information
Use a legislator’s district office address when the legislature is not in session. If they are in session, you can still send to the district office, but it may get there a little later. During a legislative session, an email may suffice as most lawmakers have email on their phones and desk computers on the capitol floor.

Open Your Letter With a Proper Greeting
Be sure to include the policy maker’s title before their name, such as, “Governor Edwards” or “Representative Henry” or “Senator LaFleur.”

Introduce Yourself
Explain who you are. If you are a constituent, say so. If you voted for the policymaker, be sure to mention this as well. Include information about yourself, your child and family that will help the lawmaker understand your needs.

Describe Your Issue or Concern
Explain how the issue has or will affect you, your family, your local community, or state. Let the policymaker know what they can do to help. Being clear and specific is important. This is also an excellent opportunity to recognize and thank your policymaker for any previous support.

Ask for a Response
Let the policymaker know that you would be interested in hearing about their view concerning your issue.

Always Close with Thank You
Be sure to thank them for their consideration of your concerns as well as taking the time to read what you have to say. Being appreciative goes a long way!

THE MOST IMPORTANT TIPS:

Handwrite your letter!
Handwritten letters are well received by legislators. It’s a personal touch that lets them know that the issue matters enough that you took the time to handwrite a letter!

If You Can, Include a Photo!
It is also recommended to include a picture if possible of your child or your family. Putting a face to an issue helps the legislator personalize the issue!

Double Check Your Work
If possible, have a friendly “editor” look it over before you send it. Nothing speaks so loudly as misspelled words and bad grammar! It matters that you have thought it out and that you can express your thoughts in an organized and correct manner. Some even type out their letter, do a spell check and grammar check (I recommend Grammarly.com!) then handwrite that content!

 

We have provided a sample letter for you below as a template you can use!

Your Full Name
Your Address
Your Phone Number
Your Email

Date

The Honorable _____
Office (e.g., Governor of Louisiana, House of Representatives, Senate)
Mailing Address
City, State, ZIP

Dear Governor/Senator/Representative _____ :

(First Paragraph – Introduce Yourself)
My name is Annie Advocate. I am one of your constituents and a strong supporter. I am writing to you as the parent of Johnny, who is five years old and has severe developmental disabilities.

(Second Paragraph – Describe Your Issue or Concern)
My family would benefit from having the right to . . . . .

(Third Paragraph – Tell the Policymaker What They Can do to Help)
I urge you to support the rights of parents to make the best-informed decisions on behalf of their families . . . . .

(Fourth Paragraph – Ask for a Response)
I am very interested in knowing your thoughts on this important issue. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you again for taking the time to read my letter and for your support,
Annie Advocate

Writing an effective email is very similar to what you would do when handwriting a letter only with a few minor changes. We encourage you to visit the writing a letter section before reading this part!

Let’s get started!

Use the Correct Email
Make sure the email you have is the correct email! Sometimes legislators use their personal email to respond to your email sent to their legislative email. This is usually because they are responding from their personal mobile device and their standard reply is issued from their personal email.

It is recommended to use the appropriate legislative email, and not their personal unless you become good friends with them and they have given you the right to contact them via personal contact information.

Create a Short Descriptive Subject Line
In the subject line of your email, please include the legislator’s title and name with a brief mention of the purpose of your email.
(Example: To Representative Burrows concerning a Parents Rights)

Open Your Email with a Proper Greeting
Introduce yourself as you would in a written letter as well as describing your issue or concern.

Body of the Email
Tell the Policymaker what they can do to help or what you would like them to consider. Remember to include information like you would in a written letter.

Ask for a Response
Ask them their thoughts on the issue and offer to answer any questions they may have. Offer to become a resource for information in the future should they need help.

Close with a Thank You
Thank them again for taking the time to read your email and for considering the issue.

End with Your Personal Contact Information
Unlike a formal letter that begins with this information, your email should end with your full name, address, phone number and email address.

Attachments in Email
You can add a personal touch by attaching a photo or document to the email. Please in the closing of your email, mention that you have attached a picture or a document and a brief description of that attachment.

Follow Up

Many online free email accounts, as well as Outlook, offer the capability to get a read receipt on your emails. This will help you ensure that your email was received and read. If you don’t receive a response soon, call to be sure the policymaker received your letter.

 

Etiquette and Other Tips

Be Polite, Respectful and Reasonable.
Do not threaten or belittle your policymaker. The goal is to have a bridge building relationship, not create an enemy!

Be Brief
It is best to address only one issue in a letter and you don’t get extra points for more words or additional statistics. Be specific about your concern and what you want the policymaker to do about it.

Be Clear
Avoid jargon or overly technical language, emoji’s or web words (remember . . . no WTF’s!)

Be Yourself
We recommend that you do not use form letters – these are ineffective. You can use a template to start with but you should use your words. You don’t have to be an expert, just explain your story and point of view. Personal stories and observations are the most persuasive.

Recycling Emails
You can “recycle” the language from one letter into other letters to other policymakers, or to the same legislators next year.
If you are sending emails to many legislators with the same message, recycling the language of your email can save time by cutting and pasting the body of the letter into multiple emails. This can be done by highlighting the original text, right-clicking, and selecting copy. Then, opening a new, blank email, right-clicking, and selecting paste. NOTE: Make sure your subject line and greeting includes the new legislator’s name!

References
Connecticut Health Policy Project (n.d.). Writing to policymakers. Retrieved from http://www.cthealthpolicy.org/toolbox/legislative/writing_policymaker.htm

Your personal story is your most powerful advocacy tool. It can help change how people view a particular issue or cause, and it can also help legislators know how their decisions affect the lives of the people they represent and the state as a whole. Personal experiences and stories speak volumes.

So the question becomes, “What constitutes a good personal story?”

A Story You Love to Tell
Think about the stories you’ve told your family and friends when describing the situation you’re trying to change. What examples did you use? What facts or incidents draw the most emotional response from them?

A Good Story Captures a Central Idea
Don’t try to cover too many events in one story. Focus on one issue and use real-life details to bring it to life.

The Main Person in the Story is Relatable
The more your audience knows about you or your child as individuals, the stronger the emotional connection and the more likely you’ll be able to affect real change.

Presents the Struggle
Conflict is a struggle between two needs, wants or situations. Your story might illustrate a conflict between your child’s need for certain supports and services and an agency’s unwillingness to help you receive those services. It could be how state government made decisions that affected the aid your child needed.

Your Story Needs a “Climax” or High Point.
Your story should build up to an example that makes your listener say, “that’s unfair” or “that’s too ridiculous to be true.”

For example, if you had to chose to put your child in a community home. However you can’t get the in-home supports and services your child qualifies for, that would be ridiculous? Unfortunately, for many families this is true!

Include Vivid Images
Use words to draw mental pictures that help listeners connect to your story at an emotional level. Don’t be afraid of strong words. Words like “cold,” “dark,” “hate,” “terrified,” “cringed” and “panics” create a negative emotional response.

Positive words can cause emotional reactions just as easily. Think about how you feel when you hear the words “giggle,” “sunny,” “beautiful,” “artistic,” and “loving.”

Your Story Must be Detailed
The more details you can provide, the better the reader will understand – and sympathize with – your position.

A note of caution: Make sure the details and images you include are relevant to the story you’re telling and are brief and that it only addresses one issue!

Does Your Story Address the Big Questions
Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? The reader will need the basic facts to have a buy into the story and to become vested in the individual’s situation in the story. Legislators also need to know these to help guide their decisions.

The Story Needs a Beginning, Middle, and an End
Think about an ongoing television series. You might not be a regular viewer, but within a few minutes of watching, you know the characters and the situation they’re confronting. By the end of the show, you’ll see the story unfold and the conflict resolved. Your story should be just like that!

Your Story Should Be Short and to the Point.
Many legislators are extremely busy. Focus on telling your story in five minutes or less. Three minutes is best so try to stay super focused!

Tells the How the Reader can Help
Be clear on what the reader can do to help. Let them know how they can take an active role in making a difference in your cause and issue. Start and end your story with this specific request.

References
Minnesota Developmental Disabilities Council (2001). Making your case. Retrieved from http://mn.gov/mnddc/extra/publications/Making_Your_Case.pdf

You feel strongly about issues related to people that deal with your same issue, and you want to let people know what you think and feel. Letters to the editor and opinion pieces can be an effective way to get the word out to a larger audience.

A letter to the editor is brief and is often written in response to a previously published article or letter and can also focus on a current issue. Opinions (called op-eds) are longer pieces that make a strong argument about a current issue. Op-eds are usually written by an expert and rarely in response to a previously published article or letter.

That doesn’t mean that letters to the editor cannot be written if it’s not in response. At any time you can write a letter, but unless the topic seems to be a potentially hot issue, it may not get printed. It’s all up to the editor to choose which to print in hopes to gain readership.

Most newspapers prefer receiving letters to the editor and op-eds via email or through an electronic form on their web page. Before you begin writing your letter or opinion piece, you should look at the editorial pages of your target newspaper for specifications on writing letters to the editor and opinion pieces.

Tips on Writing & Submitting

Choose a Single Topic
Don’t try to discuss multiple issues in one letter. Choose just one. When you try to stuff too much into one letter, then the issues have a tendency to cancel each other out or “step on each other” so to speak. Single focus with impact!

Be Clear and Direct
Explain what you’re writing about, why it’s important, and your opinion about what should be done. Remember that issue may seem clear to you, but the general public may not have your experience or background. Include suggestions about what could be done to improve a situation and offer ways people can get involved.

Choose your Words Carefully
Simple, plain language is best to convey your message. Use language that most people will understand. The article is not about how much you know but is presenting an issue that is important and that everyone can grasp the meaning.

Do not write language that is offensive or defames another individual. This type of language will often get your letter rejected immediately. Refrain from personal attacks, instead focus on making a positive change to a negative situation!

Follow Length Guidelines
If you don’t follow the guidelines set forth by the editor, it will immediately remove your letter from publication.

Letters to the editor are usually very short, so it’s important to write a letter no longer than what your target newspaper tends to publish. The most common reason that letters to the editor are not published is that they are too long.

Opinion pieces are usually no more than 800 words, so be sure to check the specifications of the publication you are preparing for!

Follow Submission Guidelines
Be sure to submit your letter or op-ed as specified by the newspaper.
Include your full name and contact information. You will be contacted by the information you submitted to confirm that you wrote the letter. Newspapers usually will not publish anonymous letters, although in some cases, they may withhold your name upon request.

Proofread Your Letter
Check your spelling and grammar! Be aware that your letter may be further edited by the newspaper, so don’t take this personally. It’s a fact of dealing with mass media. Editing happens.

Follow Up
You can try to contact the newspaper to ensure they received your letter. If your letter does not get published, find out why and send it to another newspaper. Sometimes they may print it on a day you are not expecting. If you submit and expect it to get printed the following day, you may be surprised to find it in the weekend edition. Printing is at the editor’s discretion.

Another way of working with the media is to do interviews. Interviews can be done for TV, radio or print media sources. As a parent or self-advocate, you know how vaccine injury/policies issue affects your family and can credibly share your experience with a reporter or a local talk show.

Tips on How To Conduct Yourself on an Interview

Before the Interview
Know the context of your interview. Make sure to ask if the interview is for TV, radio or print. Usually, they will let you know when they reach out to you. Ask about the subject of the interview, who else the reporter has talked to, and when the story will run. Ask how long the interview will last and ask if the interview will be live on air or recorded

Define your Message
If possible, review any fact sheets/talking points before your interview. Decide before your interview on one or two messages that you want to emphasize.

Dress appropriately
Wear dark and solid colors. These look better on camera. Make sure that your hygiene is on point!

During the Interview
Be yourself because the best way to combat nerves is by being you. If you’re pretending, people will be able to tell. Focus on staying on message. Your mission is to relay your message! Be prepared to stick to your talking points and don’t be shy about repeating them multiple times.

If the reporter brings up a confrontational issue, remember that your responsibility is to get your message out. Stay calm. Stay on message. Say what you know.

Tell the Truth
Credibility is the key to relationships with reporters. If you don’t know the answer, it’s okay to say that you don’t know. Honesty wins over trying to look like you know everything!

Stay Calm
If your interview is recorded and you mess up, tell the reporter you would like to stop and start again. Live interviews are rare, but if you have one just talk to the reporter. Don’t think about the camera.

After the Interview
Stay connected. Exchange contact information with the report and offer any additional materials or information. Remember to ask how you can get a copy of the interview and if you can get a digital version of it to share on your social media streams!

Through social media, ordinary people, legislators, reporters, etc. can exchange ideas, debate issues, and motivate others to take action by sharing links, meme’s, videos and other information.

If you are not using social media, you are missing an opportunity to be part of the conversations related to issues that affect individuals with your specific issues.

There are many reasons why it is important to have a presence on social networking sites:

1. It can enhance relationships
2. It offers a venue for reaching new advocates and supporters
3. It engages people in shared communication, and
4. It can make the work you do more accessible to others.

NOTE: There is one main thing to remember with all social media or information you post: Once on the web – Always on the web. Remember that what you post could have ripple effects that don’t just affect your life, but your loved ones and become an influence down the road on potential employment and engagement with other advocates!

 

Let’s look at some of the most common Social Media Platforms:

Facebook
Facebook allows users to create personal profiles, company pages, and group pages. It allows you to communicate with advocates, legislators, friends, and others by sharing messages, photos, meme’s, links and other information.

Facebook also allows you to use ads which have a low price point to push your message to a specific demographic. Facebook also now has live streaming which is great for when you are doing an interview with someone, or sharing a message or even having a Q&A session. It’s like a micro-vblogs (video blog).

 

Twitter
Twitter is considered a microblog that allows users to communicate using “tweets,” which are short posts of up to 140 characters in length. You can also attach links, photos, meme’s and use hashtags that are used when you want someone searching for a specific phrase to find your information.

You can also tag other people in your messages in two ways:

  1. The first by just using the @TheirTwitterName that will get broadcast to a general audience. The second and most effective is to use the same naming scheme but using a period before it, such as .@TheirTwitterName.
  2. The second method allows your content to be pushed to everyone’s feed that follows that person! It’s effective when you are trying to get a response.

 

YouTube

YouTube is an online video community where users can create, watch and share videos. You can also determine who can see, share, comment or even repost your video when you upload a video to your channel. You have the opportunity to do great branding by doing vblogging. This is video blogging that allows you to share your stories, document your issues, struggles, and life and there is now the option even to live stream using YouTube.

The great thing about live streaming is that YouTube keeps these live streams in your channel so that you can turn around and share these on other social media streams!

 

Instagram
Instagram is owned by Facebook, so you will see more and more that it will be integrating technology from Facebook to Instagram and Instagram to Facebook.

Instagram allows you to upload images and videos in a square format. It’s fantastic for documenting and pushing your message using created artwork as well! Instagram has also included a competing Instagram Stories which is similar to SnapChat stories. It’s a stream of multiple videos, images all with potential links that allow you to send the viewer to another external link such as your website, or to a new video on YouTube!

Snapchat
Snapchat is a micro video chat app that allows you to create up to 10-second videos or upload images that show for 10 seconds. There are some fun filters as well that overlay on your video as well.

There is a Snapchat Storyline that allows you to create multiple Snapchat videos into a longer storyline, but remember each one is only 10 seconds. So you could have six stories that equal a full minute of content! Also, Snapchat by default does not store your content. However, you can change that in the setting to save a copy of all of your created content, when you create it, to your phone’s photo app. Then you can go and take that content and share it on other social media streams!

 

Tips for Using Social Media

Are you ready to start networking? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Keep your content concise and on the subject.
  • If you have one, include a link to a website explaining the issue you are advocating for or against, as well as any actual documentation or resources to support your case.
  • Remember that social media is a dialogue, not a monolog. You have to engage your friends and followers.
  • Ask a question, because it can be the quickest way to involve your audience and make your content interactive.
  • Be positive! If you disagree with something, it’s okay to state your case, (Not everyone will share your experience,) but avoid making cruel and nasty comments. It doesn’t help your cause.
  • Do not attack others! Do not post personal attacks or negative comments about any political or public figure. Doing so could damage any future dialogue between you and your legislator.
  • Be mindful of having accurate information. Posting false information about a topic, or an individual without having the proof to back it up could hurt future advocacy issues. Having consistent, correct information makes you a thought leader!
  • Don’t be a troll! A troll is a person who spreads conflict on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory or off-topic messages with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

 

Remember this: It only takes one piece of misinformation or one negative interaction to ruin your reputation as being someone to be trusted with the information you share!