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EU and Social Media: Twitter or Facebook?


This article was first published on the Online EU Training blog


EU and Social Media: Twitter or Facebook?When it comes to social media, most EU officials, decision-makers and public affairs specialists are uncertain what it actually means, so their dilemma is translated into the question ‘Should we use Twitter or Facebook in our online efforts?’. This is the same as, when building a house, you would ask ‘Should I build a kitchen or a bathroom?’. In short: focusing on building blocks instead of the building will not take you far.


The core concept of social media is that you, being an EU industry association for sugar cane, the Polish embassy in Brussels or an NGO lobbying for longer maternity leave in Europe, want to create more visibility, credibility and influence for your policy efforts by using online tools. To do so, here are five core elements of social media for EU public affairs purposes (also click on the image for dozens of useful tools):


i) create content and discussions that are two-way conversations instead of top-down messages, such as a PowerPoint presentation that can be rated by stars and reviews, an E-book on your key EU policy ideas that readers can provide feedback about or an online forum on your website where open discussions can take place


ii) make valuable insights, information, advice and remarkable content on your EU initiative or position easily available online on your website and on dozens of content-sharing platforms so when journalists, Commission officials or European Parliamentary assistants are Googling for valuable data, research or background information, they will find your content on SlideShare, PDF Share, Scribd and dozens of places, or watch your unedited but honest and compelling YouTube video on why a certain directive should be changed


iii) engage your stakeholders, citizens and readers by inviting them to comment on your EU policy blog, your embassy website, your online forum, and give their inputs, feedbacks, views and critiques of your ideas so you can identify the public’s views or support for your ideas


iv) chatting with your supporters, decision-makers and virtual friends via Facebook, Twitter and other tools by giving them useful, enjoyable content about yourself, your message and your industry, such as the latest news on a topic of their interest, a great new video that your followers or supporters would enjoy, or a funny image that helps build your credibility


v) actively participate in other (external or 3rd party) platforms by commenting on a LinkedIn discussion regarding your issues and pointing readers to your content, signing up and adding your personal insights to a specialized mailing list where policy discussions are happening, and raising online awareness and visibility of your organisation, message and content to maximise impact.


Facebook and Twitter are crucial. But it is even more important to look at the big picture of what you want to achieve with them, which tools are out there (almost all of them are free!), and create a roadmap of which direction you are heading towards.


Just like when building a house, the minimum requirement is to have a kitchen, a bathroom, a living room and a bedroom, the same way you must use multiple online tools together that will reinforce your message and build on each other. Instead of picking just one single element and decide that your house will be fine even with just a kitchen, take the time and effort to build something that will be robust and complete.


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