Social media focus: What can we learn from advocacy groups online?

Aug 19, 2016
Social media focus: What can we learn from advocacy groups online?

Social media is one of the most effective channels for advocacy groups to connect with their stakeholders. Whether they are patients, caregivers, policy makers or potential funders, everyone is busy and wanting a quick update on their smart phones or tablets. With that in mind, we took a look at how the advocacy groups we work with used Twitter in the month of June to identify the key topics of discussion, popular hashtags and which tweets were having the biggest impact.

Here we present our findings and share some examples of best practices for you to learn from and perhaps replicate on your own channels.

Topics of discussion in June 2016 (note: larger words in the word cloud represent higher volumes of use)

topics word cloud 2

June was a busy month for advocacy groups. If we take a look at the topics covered across the month, we can see a focus on support, research and awareness. The main disease discussed was cancer, in particular prostate cancer, which reflects some of the awareness campaigns and news stories of the month. In particular, Prostate Cancer Canada’s Plaid for Dad campaign, the launch of Cancer Moonshot, Men’s Health Month and the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting featured highly.

The key themes in the language were positive interactions and encouraging calls to action. There are many examples of groups or people thanking and praising others for their “great” efforts, while those who are likely at the earlier stages of their campaigns are calling for people to get involved with terms like “join, learn, wear and get.”

Most used hashtags in June 2016 (note: larger words in the word cloud represent higher volumes of use)

hashtag word cloud 3

This word cloud shows the most used hashtags in tweets posted from all of the advocacy groups we follow. As with the topics of discussion, it’s clear that disease types, especially cancer and its many subtypes are commonly used hashtags, picked up by all groups, patients and other interested parties. #GivingTuesday also ranked highly as a hashtag used by many groups, irrespective of disease.

What can we take from this?

Not just a matter of semantics

If we look at some specific tweets which really resonated with the Twitter audience then we can see the types of content that can be used to gain greater impact.

  • Use calls to action so your followers know what to do and spread your message further.
  • Use positive language – acknowledge your followers and thank them for all their support. They’ll appreciate being called out and those less active/visible social media users might be inspired to become more openly supportive.

Hashtags and @ handles

These are powerful tools in spreading your organization’s message online and highlighting a particular campaign or event.

  • Create your own hashtags to make it easy for your audience to find and contribute to a specific conversation. Make sure they’re simple, not too long and easy to use. If you are using an acronym, check it’s not being used by someone else already.
  • Use established hashtags to expand your reach and give you more exposure to those not following you. People will see you’re involved and may choose to follow you as a result.
  • Contextual hashtags focused on a topic, such as a disease, will dramatically expand your potential audience to anyone with an interest in the subject. Combine these with a campaign hashtag for maximum effect.
  • Use other users’ @ handles to draw their attention to your tweet or include them as part of your content. Make sure that you have someone managing your Twitter feed who can reply in good time to keep the momentum going.

Below we present a selection of tweets which performed especially well in June, which provide some good examples of positive messages and use of calls to action, hashtags and @ handles.

Social media focus: What can we learn from advocacy groups online?

Astellas Patient Advocacy is a function within Corporate Affairs at Astellas that focuses on creating, building and maintaining third-party relationships. We serve as a conduit between Astellas and external stakeholders to help improve patient outcomes, improve access issues and address patients’ unmet needs head on.

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