Facebook and Social Media
Social networking is one of the easiest ways to connect with potential members and an outside audience. After you finish with this resource, be sure to check out our page on using social media to increase involvement within your established members. There is a lot of information on the Internet on how to use different networking platforms, but this guide will give you a brief overview of all your options. Remember that there’s no need to make an account under every one of these options. Start with a very polished account (Facebook is the most popular with our affiliate groups), and work up from there. The most important piece of advice for any social media is to update it frequently and with pertinent information. Good luck!
You will go insane if you have an account for every platform listed here. This is a general overview, and you should stick with the formats that work best for your group.
Social Platform: Facebook
What: A social networking site that allows users to interact via personalized profiles and common interest groups.
When to Use: Facebook is omnipresent at many universities and high schools across the country. Use a Facebook group page to generate general interest and post about events open to the entire campus and/or community. Facebook discussion pages or private groups are also helpful for facilitating intragroup communication.
Tips: Facebook is the primary social networking presence for many groups. Keep in mind that your posts only appear to a percentage of users, but that posting too often will get you blocked. We have created a sample posting guidelines and information block suggestions. Additionally, we offer the Facebook LeaderSpace for our officers and local leaders. Carefully moderate contentious discussions and encourage your members to refrain from commenting negatively on the SSA page. Lastly, keep in mind that (shockingly) not everyone has a Facebook. You could drive away potential members if you only communicate via Facebook. If you want to get into the nitty gritty details of Facebook, check out our Everything Facebook guide.
Social Platform: Twitter
What: A microblogging website that allows users to send messages of up to 140 characters.
When to Use: Twitter is especially helpful for promoting events. Use a hashtag so users can follow the event in addition to your group account. You can also use your account to keep updated on news and opportunities by following national and local secular organizations. Twitter tends to be less prevalent on campuses, but many of its users are more active than on Facebook.
Tips: Avoid having extended conversations with one or two other users. All of the tweets will show up individually in the feed and will annoy other users. You can post messages longer than 140 characters, but they will appear as separate tweets. Try to have the cutoff fall on complete sentences, rather than in the middle of a word. Also check out our Twitter Guide.
Social Platform: GroupSpaces
What: A social networking and website platform designed to help organizations manage their membership.
When to Use: GroupSpaces is a pretty versatile space that you can use to manage email lists, create discussion feeds, collect dues, create events, and a whole bunch of other stuff. You can interact with your members even if they don’t have a GroupSpaces account, meaning that this could be an ideal forum for managing official group business.
Tips: Visit the GroupSpaces blog for ways to enhance your GroupSpaces experience. It’s a fairly unique website, and you should explore around the website for all the options. For example, there is an invite tracking device that will let you see the status of your invites to join a group (for example, if the member has opened the email or just not clicked on the link). Additionally, GroupSpaces gives you plenty of options on how to customize your experience and openness of the website, email list, and group in general. See our Everything GroupSpaces guide for more tips.
Social Platform: Meetup.com
What: A social networking site that allows users to connect with potential groups and find offline meetings based on a common interest or by searching a zip code.
When to Use: Campuses don’t frequently use Meetup, but it is huge with our off-campus groups. Regardless, you might consider Meetup as a tool for reaching out the community and for finding similar non-theist groups in the area.
Tips: You can avoid having to pay the organizer fee by setting up an individual account and reaching out to other local groups by using this account. Additionally, your local secular allies might be willing to allow you use of their account (ask, don’t assume). If you do decide to use Meetup for large events or for reaching a nontraditional audience, remember to keep this page as regularly updated as your other networking pages. Cost: $12 to $19 a month in administration fees.
Social Platform: Atheist Nexus
What: A social networking site exclusively for atheists and other secular individuals. The site includes a space for blogging, forums, groups, and chat.
When to Use: This is a great way to connect with other local groups. Atheist Nexus is another resource that is more popular with our off-campus affiliates, but you may find a few students from nearby campuses interested in joining your group. You might even find that the spare atheist or two on your campus looking to be adopted by a loving secular family. Atheist Nexus also gives more confidentiality to your group, as only approved secular members can participate on the website. New groups might find this especially helpful.
Tips: Keep in mind that “Atheist Nexus” might be off-putting to potential agnostic members. However, there are plenty of simply “secular” groups and individuals on Atheist Nexus, which you should stress if Atheist Nexus is your primary form of communication. Strongly consider using Atheist Nexus if you are planning a conference open to the wider atheist community. Keep your page on Atheist Nexus updated.
Social Platform: GooglePlus
What: A multilevel social networking site that gives users the capability to classify their relationships into
different “circles,” have hangouts, and to find like-minded communities.
When to Use: Although GooglePlus is less popular than Facebook, it is quickly becoming LinkedIn’s primary competitor to business networking. You can easily connect with leaders in the secular movement (including all of the SSA staff) and can network efficiently. GooglePlus also gives you the capability to create events.
Tips: Use the “communities” feature to find other secular individuals in your area. The atheism page currently has over 20,000 members - there have to be a few close to you! Nobody can see your circles, but your default settings will display your connections. If you are concerned about confidentiality, make sure that others can’t see who’ve you added or who added you.
Social Platform: YouTube
What: A video sharing platform.
When to Use: Youtube can be used to share your own videos or to share preexisting videos with your members. You can easily track helpful materials by liking and favoriting videos under an account for your group, even if you never upload a single video.
Tips: Consider creating a playlist of music to play before events or meetings. Chances are you will have a computer handy, and can have an easily accessible folder waiting for you. YouTube is also one of the favorite sites of trolls, so carefully monitor comments on uploaded videos.
Social Platform: Pinterest
What: A photo-sharing site that enables users to”pin” information on “boards” as an organizational system. When to Use: You can use Pinterest both to upload photos of your own events and to share other pertinent images. Pinterest goes beyond Facebook in photo sharing potential, and can highlight issues that your group is specifically involved with. For example, consider creating a “Science Rocks” board in honor of Darwin Day.
Tips: A site that allows your members to interact with images instead of text may attract more attention and is excellent for procrastination. Pinterest users a follower/following system similar to Twitter to create a network. Beyond your own event and club information boards, consider including creative subjects like “humanist heroes” or “secular library.” Pinterest has a reputation of being the wedding planning site, but it is quickly becoming popular among organizations for its image-sharing potential.
Social Platform: Instagram
What: A photo-sharing site that allows users to highly customize images.
When to Use: Instagram is unique because it is mainly mobile based. If you want to create fancy pictures but don’t want to use camera, Instagram is the way to go. You can like and comment on pictures that are not your own. Additionally, Instagram makes it easy to post to other social networking sites, especially Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. Instagram is best used if you want to post pictures while an event is occurring and share them on other sites.Posting pictures of food will quickly suck you into the vortex of Instagram cliches, so try and avoid it.
Tips: Instagram is most frequently used by people on mobile apps. Posting simple and fun pictures will earn you an interested audience. Don’t get too worked up about the filters. New models of the iPhone include similar filters, which might be useful to you.
Social Platform: Tumblr
What: A microblogging website that is highly geared towards sharing multimedia content, including pictures, videos, audio, and quotes.
When to Use: Like Instagram and Pinterest, Tumblr helps you share information in visually appealing ways. Sharing content related to your group’s interests, like with Pinterest, or uploading your original content from Instagram are all great ways of highlighting your group. Unlike other platforms, Tumblr doesn't let you create albums of photos, so you should pick out one or two of your favorites to share from a given event. You can use your Tumblr to share general media with your members and to promote secular themes.
Tips: Many users have a “photo of the day” format; they update Tumblr with either one reblogged photo or personal photo. This could be a great method for your group, especially if you make it a weekly or monthly post. Like Facebook, Tumblr’s comment section can sustain contentious debate, so check back fairly often. Keep in mind that Tumblr has quite a few problems with inappropriate content and copyrighted posting. Be careful with the information that you share and you should have no problems. It might be useful to you to only have a Tumblr or a Pinterest, instead of both, but the decision ultimately rests with your group.
Social Platform: LinkedIn
What: A website geared towards professionals and networking.
When to Use: Since your club is unlikely to be hiring any individuals in the near future, LinkedIn is best used for networking with other organizations. For example, by following the national Secular Student Alliance, you can connect with secular groups and may be able to find a non-theist organization in your area.
Tips: Take a few minutes to update your “about” page to make your organization appear more professional.
Social Platform: Reddit
What: A social news site that allows members to upvote and downvote posts.
When to Use: Reddit is a great way to network with other secular individuals and students within the movement. Secular students have their own reddit feed at /r/secularstudents. We frequently discuss leadership issues, upcoming opportunities, and group management. The /r/atheism feed is very active and provides plenty of interesting links and resources.
Tips: The age of Reddit users tends to be much younger than the other resources that we have discussed so far (middle school and high school). High school groups may find Reddit helpful if planning a large event. You can create your own feed for your group if you plan on having frequent group discussion. Creating your own subreddit is fairly straightforward. Don’t be upset if your posts don’t catch on at first in popular forums, such as the /r/atheism. Keep on posting and sharing your ideas!
There are, of course, hundreds of social media options beyond those presented here.
DON’T FREAK OUT. You will probably need only two or three of these resources, but it’s excellent to know about all of them. Please let us know if you have questions, and check out this page (link) for information on how to get in touch with SSA.