How to promote your messages on social media

Want to get your campaign off the ground and give it momentum? One way is to post about it on social media, but how do you use it your best advantage? Hannah Duncan, Cycling UK’s digital and social media officer explains

1.Reach the right people

With almost 80% of the UK’s population on social media, targeting is key. Here are some ways you can reach the right audience:

  • Follow the accounts of relevant individuals and organisations, including local cycle clubs, politicians and like-minded campaigners.
  • Jump on relevant conversations, especially those initiated by the accounts above or posts featuring relevant hashtags. Engage by liking, commenting and sharing posts.
  • Use hashtags which fit your niche to extend your reach. It’s worth including two to three hashtags per post, though avoid more than this as it can appear spammy. We recommend experimenting with generic, cycle-themed hashtags (i.e. #cycling or #cyclists) as well as location-specific hashtags (i.e. #Belfast or #Cardiff).
  • Tag relevant individuals/organisations in your posts as they may choose to share your content. If there is no space in the tweet itself due to character limit, you can tag up to ten accounts in an attached image. Don’t bombard other accounts with tags, so do this sparingly when there is a shared connection. Numerous politicians are active on Twitter and it’s worth tweeting them directly if there is a specific action you want them to take.
  • It’s sometimes worth direct messaging key contacts on Twitter and asking them to help promote your campaign, especially if they have a large following and the right audience. Click the share icon on your tweet to see the option ‘Send via Direct Message’.
  • Retain a loyal following by responding to comments and following back supporter accounts.
  • If you’re on Facebook, join relevant interest groups active in your local area, and engage in conversation with your campaign message. It usually works best when you do so via your personal profile, keeping it natural and avoiding a salesy approach.

2.Stop them scrolling on

The average person spends over two hours a day on social media, but how do you stop them scrolling past your post? Here’s how to grab attention and boost engagement:

  • Post regularly to build a consistent online presence. On Twitter we recommend aiming for at least one post per day, while on Facebook three times per week is a good target.
  • Upload a high-quality image or short video with your post to support your message. Videos on Twitter can be no longer than 2 minutes 20 seconds.
  • It’s sometimes worth creating a unique campaign hashtag as this allows you to create a movement and monitor engagement. Keep it simple and readable, and reflect your message. A recent, successful example is #ThisMachineFightsClimateChange from Pedal on Parliament in Scotland ahead of COP26.
  • Make it really clear how people can take action from a post and support your cause. If your campaign is ongoing, you could pin a strong post to the top of your profile so that it is the first people see when they view your account.
  • Strengthen your case by; including interesting statistics, highlighting real-life stories and examples and sharing external news stories and articles Bike Is Best and London Cycling Campaign use these tactics effectively.

3.The dos and don’ts

Many factors determine whether a social media post will be successful, but there are also some standard rules to bear in mind. Here are some final things to consider:

  • Always check over your post before publishing, paying attention to spelling and grammar, accuracy and tone.
  • Be polite and professional. Campaigners need to stand up for what they believe and be firm, but it’s important to keep it respectful and avoid getting into fights – once a post is out there, it’s out there forever.
  • Keep it clear and concise. Ensure your copy is neat and easily readable, using line breaks and URL shorteners, avoiding caps lock and acronyms.

4.One last thing

If you’re not already, please follow Cycling UK on Twitter. By engaging with our content, not only will you support our campaign work for safer roads and improved access for cycling across the UK, you will also boost the visibility of your own account. If you are able to tag us in your posts, we will do our best to like and/or share to help extend your reach.