Social Media Promotion

Creating a social media or communications guide

Creating a social media guide for your group can help your group think through the goals of your social media use, and track what works well for your group. This can especially be helpful:

    • for other groups in the same country or geography to rely on and to share a common approach and understanding

    • To take into account cultural differences and sensitivities when communicating EA ideas and beliefs

    • if you have several people sharing content on behalf of your group

    • if you are expecting to pass on social media roles to other members of your group

For example, see EA Ankara's guide which also includes practical advice to keep in mind, especially about tone and language.

Platforms for Promoting Your Group

Most groups publicise using Facebook, but we recommend using other platforms as well as not everyone is on Facebook. A wider variety broadens your reach and increases inclusivity.

Different platforms are popular in each country, and with each age group, and social media use changes rapidly. So the advice below will probably need to be modified for your group. The content below is based on the experiences of predominantly city group organisers in the US, UK and Australasia, so is mostly focused on Facebook and Meetup, which are popular platforms with non-students in those countries.

It may be useful or necessary to incorporate other platforms depending on the demographics of your audience. For example:

  • Instagram is popular with younger audiences

  • A LinkedIn presence may be important if your group puts an emphasis on helping community members to have a high impact career

There may also be other social media tools that are specific to your country, location or university that might be useful to use.

Facebook

Groups of any size can use Facebook as a public-facing platform. It’s useful for promoting events, sharing articles, and prompting discussion.

There are two main ways to represent a group on Facebook: a Facebook page or a Facebook group. We weigh the pros and cons of each format below. For many groups, the best balance might be a private, visible Facebook group or messenger chat for discussions and a Facebook page for announcements.

We recommend you send friend requests to Facebook users in your EA group. This will make it easier to invite them to events and to communicate with them over messenger.

Some groups have created Facebook profiles for their group. Organisers can use the group profile rather than their personal profiles to send friend requests and meeting invites. This might suit organisers who don’t want a large number of Facebook friends, or if they’re going to pass the profile over to another organiser in the future. This might go against Facebook’s terms as profiles are intended for individual use only.

Facebook Groups

Facebook groups are designed for discussion between members. They allow anyone in the group to post.

  • Public groups (less valuable if you have a Facebook Page):

    • People can find the group by searching on Facebook.

    • Anyone can view the group member list and discussions.

    • The openness allows people to decide whether they like the group before joining and makes new people feel more welcome.

    • Posts and comments made by members may appear in their Facebook friends’ newsfeeds. More people might discover the group, but members may feel less comfortable about posting and commenting.

  • Private, visible groups (probably best for most groups):

    • People can find the group by searching on Facebook.

    • People have to request to join the group.

    • The group member list and group discussions can only be viewed by members.

    • The group will be discoverable by people who are not that familiar with EA.

  • Private, hidden groups:

    • Hidden groups are private groups that can’t be found through searching on Facebook. People can only access the group upon invitation by a current group member.

    • If you use a hidden group, you might miss out on finding other EAs in the area.

    • You can control who becomes a member without having to reject people who want to join.

    • Hidden groups might work for subgroups, such as an advanced reading group.

Regulating private groups

  • Strike a balance where newcomers feel welcome, but existing members can comfortably have advanced conversations.

  • You can set up the group so that people requesting to join must answer up to three questions. The questions can help you gauge their understanding of EA, interest in a one-on-one, and inclinations towards specific cause areas. With this information, you can:

    • Connect new members to others with similar interests and career paths.

    • Give a friendly welcome that allows people to ask questions.

  • Scan for potential spammers

    • You can be more confident about people with mutual friends and groups.

    • People with hundreds of groups, especially related to finance or money-making, are a red flag.

    • If there isn’t much data, they probably have protective privacy settings, which isn’t necessarily a bad sign.

    • Having admin approved posts means that even if they are spammers, you’ll find out before they publish a post.

Admin approval for posts

  • If you have admin approval turned on, one of the admins or moderators has to approve a post before it is seen by the rest of the group. This gives you control over conversations to check they are on-topic and useful.

  • It requires attentive admins available to promptly approve posts.

  • The size of the group will affect whether admin approval is needed. Many small groups seem to manage well without admin approval for posts. Large groups often require admin approval to avoid having too many irrelevant posts.

  • It can be challenging to decide whether a post is too low-quality to approve. Reduce the burden on admins and moderators by asking posters to describe why less-obviously helpful posts are relevant.

  • When deciding whether to approve a post, consider whether it will prompt valuable discussion, lead people to update beliefs or encourage people to take action.

  • Keep in mind that disapproving posts may discourage people from submitting posts at all.

Tips for groups

  • Ensure your group has a tidy and appealing cover image.

  • Facebook crops your cover image differently on computer browsers and mobile devices, so ensure it looks good in both formats. The ideal dimensions are 820 pixels wide by 462 pixels tall.

    • On a computer, the top 48 pixels and the bottom 48 pixels will be cropped off.

    • On mobile devices, the entire image will be visible.

  • The graphics section of the EA Resource Hub has logos and images you can modify and use, including designs based on Facebook’s suggested image dimensions.

  • Write a friendly description for your group.

  • Once you’ve created the group, you can change the URL to include words rather than a string of numbers. This will look better when cross-posting to other FB groups, and make it easier to share your group URL.

  • Aim to engage the audience by asking questions and replying to posts from the community.

  • Important messages can be marked as “Announcements”, which will mean they’ll appear at the top of the group’s page.

Facebook Pages

Generally, pages take less effort to maintain than groups. Only admins can post, and posts aren’t tied to Facebook users. The benefits include:

  • People can message group organisers more easily. Facebook Messenger has a page managing feature (to access this click on your profile picture in the top left, then ‘Switch Account’), or use the Facebook Pages Manager app which has a notification system that you might find more reliable than using Facebook Messenger.

  • Posts can look more professional as they are coming from an organisation, not a person.

  • Pages can be turned into official charity pages. This allows for fundraising directly via Facebook.

Tips for using Facebook pages

  • Ensure your group has a tidy and appealing cover image.

  • Facebook crops your cover image differently on computer browsers and mobile devices, so ensure it looks good in both formats. The ideal dimensions are 820 pixels wide by 462 pixels tall (same as for groups), however, the top 75 pixels and bottom 75 pixels will be cropped off when viewed on a desktop. The entire image will be seen on mobile phones. The graphics section of the EA Resource Hub has logos and images you can modify and use, including designs based on Facebook’s suggested image dimensions.

  • Add a logo that is 360 pixels by 360 pixels.

  • Write an “About” section for your group.

  • Once you’ve created the group you can change the URL to something that is words rather than a string of numbers. This will look better when cross-posting to other FB groups and make it easier to share your group's URL.

  • Use your Facebook page’s ‘Insights’ tab to track the times of day at which posts get the most engagement, and which types of posts attract the most attention.

  • You can schedule posts on pages to be posted in advance, so you might want to schedule many posts in one go. However, it’s good to post more recent articles as well so members have a sense of what is happening currently in the movement. Facebook pages can join groups, and then post on the groups, so you could get your Facebook page to post important announcements on your Facebook group to increase the chances the announcement will be read.

  • Aim to engage the audience by asking questions and replying to comments.

  • Aim to update regularly, especially during key times of the year such as around the holiday season when people are giving, before hosting bigger events, or for uni groups during the semester. Important messages can be pinned to the top of the page.

Meetup

Meetup is a platform for creating groups and hosting events, aiming to create communities and bring people with common interests together. Meetup groups are easy for people to discover by browsing the groups in their city.

  • Meetup is useful for getting newcomers and people who may not use Facebook

  • Meetup does have a cost for group organisers which can be covered by CEA through General Group Support Funding.

  • Some groups find Meetup useful, and others do not. This probably depends on how popular Meetup is in your city, and the size of your group.

    • New groups find Meetup a good way to get new people to discover EA.

    • Some large groups find that advertising on Meetup results in a lot of new people that are just searching for a social event.

    • It may make sense to only put events on Meetup for larger talks or newcomer social events where you will have the capacity to talk to lots of new people.

    • Meetup can be good for finding other groups to coordinate with. For example, most locations seem to have a philosophy based Meetups that EAs can join to network with their members.

Tips for using Meetup

  • Add a friendly and descriptive headline and description.

  • Under “Manage the Group”, edit the appearance to change the colour palette, banner image. The ideal size for Meetup banner images is 820 pixels wide by 462 pixels tall. Meetup doesn’t crop the image.

  • Add topics to your group to help people find your group, using the “Manage the Group” to find “Group settings” Under “Manage the Group” you can add social media links under the “Optional Features” section. You can add up to 15 tags to your page (the maximum possible). You may wish to include the following phrases: effective altruism · Charity· Philanthropy · Charity Events · Philosophy ·Altruism · Altruistic Endeavors · Rationality and Reasoning · Critical Thinking · Exploring Career Choices · Strategic Philanthropy · Social Philanthropy · Less Wrong· Intellectual Discussion

  • Add a personalised welcome message to appear to new members in the “Your members” section.

  • You can email members of your Meetup group through “Group Tools”

  • Check out other EA Groups Meetup pages to see how they advertise their group and events.

Mailing Lists

Mailing lists are ideal for keeping members who are not on social media up to date with activities and news.

Tips

  • There are platforms you can use to manage your mailing lists and newsletters. Advantages of using a platform, rather than your regular email client:

    • You can create a form that people can fill in to join the mailing list (you can also automate a welcome email that informs people about Facebook groups and other useful sites)

    • The platform tracks open rates and clicks

    • Members can unsubscribe in one click if they decide they don’t want to remain on the list.

  • Mailchimp is the most popular mailing list platform, and most groups only require a free account. Check out EA Cambridge’s guide which covers

    • Importing Subscribers

    • Tips for Composing Emails

    • Example Email Schedule for a large group

    • Useful Mailchimp Features

  • Your group can get an email address with an EA domain name. Guide to getting EA email addresses and websites.

  • Don’t spam! If you send too many emails people will unsubscribe, so aim to send emails at a maximum of once every two weeks.

Newsletters

Newsletters are good to keep members up to date with events, job openings, and what the local group has been up to. They also allow people to feel part of the local community even if they only turn up to events infrequently.

Newsletters are recommended for larger groups where organisers have the time to write them, and enough mailing list members for whom reading the newsletter would be meaningful. In smaller groups, you could share links more informally via a group chat or Facebook group, or just send emails to announce events or when you have an influx of new members to the mailing list.

You can also encourage people to sign up for other EA newsletters.

How to find content

Tips for newsletters

  • Have the most important link at the top of the email

  • As your group grows in size it might be wise to think about avoiding your email being marked as spam: Make it easy to unsubscribe, and have double opt-in (when people sign up to your newsletter using a form, they are sent an email to confirm they do want to join the newsletter).

Instagram

Instagram is a lesser-used platform by many EA groups, which may be due to its limits and challenges. However, it can be a valuable platform especially for new local groups established in countries or places (eg. universities) where it is highly popular.

Some of the disadvantages of using Instagram to publicise EA groups are:

  • The word limit: This is especially problematic for EA groups wishing to run bilingual accounts (See the reasons why EA Ankara found a bilingual account to be problematic and what they advise instead). The word limit also makes it harder to preserve the integrity of the content and increases the risk of shortening ideas to the point where they become too diluted or misleading. This could potentially misrepresent effective altruism.

  • Not being able to provide direct links within the posts: Unless the EA group’s account has an incredibly high number of followers, the only direct link that can be updated is in the bio. Therefore, some links are bound to disappear over time. If there isn’t a direct link that can be clicked on, visitors of the account are less likely to view it, which is unfortunate given that sharing resources and providing information is highly valuable for communicating ideas related to effective altruism.

  • Shortness of videos: Videos are valuable visual aids to communicate the ideas related to effective altruism. However, the short duration of Instagram videos could makes this difficult. Using IGTV instead could be an option.

  • Inability to rearrange posts and update the visuals of a post: Instagram itself does not allow for these functions. For this reason, if something needs to be updated the only way to do it would be to delete the previous post and to make a repost. Followers would not get the notification of this update, the only way for them to know is if they actually checked the post or the story itself. Deleting and reposting could also be damaging to the order and comprehensiveness of the posts, if they were arranged in such a way either for linking ideas or for aesthetic purposes. Moreover, there is no way to “pin” the most important posts. They could be made into a story highlight, but those are less likely to be viewed. Constantly posting the most important content to tackle this problem would create another one: which is that it could lead to less engagement and unfollows from the existing community members. It could also be seen as a “selling” approach rather than an “offering” approach, which could again turn off community members.

  • Greater focus on aesthetics: Instagram heavily relies on visuals. In order to have a more professional looking account, Instagram requires greater effort in designing and scheduling, especially since it is not possible to re-order and change the images

These challenges and limits may potentially become irrelevant if there are Instagram updates accounting for these or by using social media management platforms (although some are better not trusted).

Some suggestions for Instagram:

  • Follow other EA accounts, EA’s and tag them in relevant posts eg. those with general EA related content (best to ask for permission via direct messaging first) The simplest way to find other EA groups is by using Instagram’s search function:

    • You can search for public accounts that use “effective altruism” in their title. Afterwards, you can also check who they follow to see whether they follow other EA groups that you don’t know of (some EA groups use only “EA” abbreviation in the title of their account or use a different language eg. Efektif Altruizm / Effektiver Altruismus)

    • EA groups can also be found by looking at the users of “effectivealtruism” hashtag

    • Effective altruists can be found by looking at the users of “effectivealtruists” “effectivealtruist” or “effectivealturismglobal” hashtags

    • If you would like your EA group’s account to be easy to discover on Instagram, you can also use these hashtags.

    • You can also create a hashtag for your own group eg. #eaankara so that people involved in the local group can use it to connect with each other

  • Repost EA-related content or share posts and updates from other EA Instagram group accounts as stories (best to ask for permission first)

  • Follow people who have a large following in similar fields and engage them in conversation or repost their content (ask for permission first if necessary via commenting or direct messaging).

  • Use the post to lead people to other sources of information about EA. Prioritize posts that introduce EA, the members and events of the specific EA group or posts which guide audiences to resources that have more high-fidelity information about EA. For example, you could link to your group’s website or effectivealtruism.org in your Instagram bio, recommend books or podcasts, and add relevant links to the comments of your post.

  • Further tips about how to use Instagram stories, hashtags, captions and the links in bio with a focus on publicising EA groups can be found here (based on EA Ankara’s experience).

Twitter

  • Check out Rob Wiblin’s guide to promoting ideas on social media for some pointers.

  • Use your own Twitter to publicise stuff about EA to your followers.

  • If you want to use a Twitter account for your group: regularly post short statuses / quotes / one-liners / links and so on (similar to updating a Facebook page). Shorten links using the bit.ly website or similar.

  • Follow people who have a large following in similar fields, and engage them in conversation or retweet them. This allows their followers to discover your Twitter account.

Website

Websites

Websites are particularly good for large groups and national groups, to create a professional online presence that can be found through a Google search.

  • Many groups get by using only Facebook and Meetup, so your group may not need a website or a personalised email address.

  • If your group is part of a national group, you could ask whether it’s possible to have a page on your national group’s website.

  • By creating a website you are committing to keeping your website up to date.

  • CEA can assist you to create a website

  • You can link your newsletter signup form to your website, and set it up to send a welcoming email to everyone that signs up with links to useful introductory videos and articles, and relevant groups.

  • Check out websites from other groups to get some ideas of what to include.

Coordination Tips

  • If you are regularly posting to multiple social media platforms you can use a social media management platform such as Hootsuite which allows you to manage multiple Twitter and Facebook accounts and to schedule future posts. Sign up for a free account and use the box in the top right to schedule future Facebook and Twitter posts

  • If you are using Instagram you can link your account with Facebook, which allows for Instagram stories and posts to be selectively synced without the need for an additional social media management platform. Images and photos previously uploaded on Instagram can also be shared on Twitter or Facebook later. See instructions for these here

What to Share and When

Rob Wiblin’s guide to promoting ideas on social media covers what to post, how to share it, and a few do’s and don’ts.

You can find articles to post from these places:

Articles relating to trending topics tend to get more attention, but consider if they are relevant to EA. You may prefer fewer clicks but from people who are more interested (and having them become more inclined towards EA), than for lots of people to engage, but only superficially.

Luca from EA Hungary and Dewi from EA Cambridge are available to help groups that would like a short video to promote their group. They’ve created a general EA video and can add on specific to your group. Contact Luca at bontaluca@gmail.com if you're interested.

Responding to messages and requests

  • Prompt, friendly communication can help make people feel welcome to your group. Make sure you know who in your group is responsible for communications such as:

    • Emails

    • Facebook messages to your page

    • Requests to join Facebook groups

    • Approving Facebook posts

  • To save time, you can set up standard messages to common requests and make small changes to personalise the message.