By Jim Myers, Kidney Advocacy Committee Liaison
WHY WE NEED TO BE ACTIVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Social media is a fun and interesting way to communicate. It is also a great tool for raising awareness for kidney disease! Why use social media? It is one of the most authentic ways to communicate to your legislators. Additionally, it is also a great way to amplify your message. During an average 8 hour day at a kidney table, I might see 50 people. Over the same period of time on social media, I reach over 10,000 people, sometimes as many as 100,000 persons in a week!
USING SOCIAL MEDIA TO AFFECT PUBLIC POLICY
Most elected officials use multiple social media accounts, including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. The form and content of communication is only limited by your imagination. Many kidney organizations have public policy action pages to help you advocate and shape public policy, like this one from the National Kidney Foundation, that also allow you to “tell your story” to your elected officials.
You can use social media to:
- Inform, discuss, update, and influence others about kidney disease policy and legislation
- Develop a collective voice and collaborate
- Share knowledge about kidney disease
- Influence the behavior and decisions of your elected officials
You can also use social media to invite elected and government officials to join events such as:
- Meetings in Washington, DC
- Local (District) meetings and town halls
- Dialysis clinic visits
- Local NKF events, like Kidney Walks or KEEP Healthy screenings
There are subtle differences between how each social media platform can be used to reach elected officials. Facebook is useful in providing information, photos, and video, as well as sending requests and messages of appreciation. Twitter is effective for engaging in a conversation with your elected official. Commenting on Instagram can help put a face to your name and issue.
Blogs are also a great tool to express your point of view or share an idea. You can use them to create original content, add photos and video, or host an opinion poll. Free, quick and easy, blogs platforms, such as WordPress and Tumblr, can give you instant visibility. Make sure you ask all your friends to like your blog and Facebook pages, and comments, and to share them. You can also share the page with general public, on other kidney pages, and in kidney groups to raise your circulation.
By establishing constant contact with your elected officials and their staff, you can become a trusted source of information related to kidney issues and legislation. This trusted relationship can help you get attention when sharing content (I like to send my government officials links to posts on the NKF’s Advocacy in Action blog) or when you ask them to co-sponsor a bill.
Using other media to promote a bill or issue
There are several websites that help you prepare, solicit, and transmit petitions that are designed to promote a kidney disease bill or important kidney issue. They include:
- Org- Petition supporting kidney donors’ rights
- I Petitions.com
- Social Bright – a directory of petition sites
- We the People – petition the Whitehouse
No matter what form of advocacy you choose, social media can make you more effective and give you a broader reach than other forms of advocacy.
James Myers is the Statewide Advocate for the National Kidney Foundation for the State of Indiana. He is a member of the Kidney Advocacy Committee. He is the inaugural winner of the 2016 Social Media Advocate Award for the American Association of Kidney Patients. On April 27, 2016, he received a kidney transplant! http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/post-tribune/opinion/ct-ptb-davich-kidney-donor-found-st-0508-20160506-story.html