As part of our capacity building for members, we have organised training sessions on how to make the most of social media for equality bodies. This manual brings together the learning from these meetings to help you to set up a social media strategy, identify how best to monitor your results, how to create engaging content for the appropriate audience, get the most from the tools available, develop successful social media campaigns and deal with negativity on your social media channels.
All equality bodies seek to achieve positive change in society, by investigating complaints, following the implementation of the legal and institutional framework for equality, and actively promoting equal treatment and tolerance. In order to maximize the effect of this work, an equality body needs to raise its public profile, which it does by consistently and strategically reminding people of its existence, accessibility, effectiveness, independence and reliability.
An equality body’s activities to seek a public profile are generally directed toward awareness campaigns, events to promote equality and non-discrimination, publications (guidelines, codes of conduct, toolkits, brochures etc.) and lately through the most important social media networks. According to the Equinet Report The Public Profile of Equality Bodies, written by members of the Working Group on Communication Strategies and Practices, over half of Equinet members use one form of social media or another as an integral part of the promotion of their work.
Social media is another communication channel that will enable us to talk with the people where they already are. It is an easy to use and cost effective way of reaching a wide range of people or indeed, specific target groups. There are many options for making good use of social media, such as:
One clear disadvantage of social media is that it excludes the offline audience. Furthermore, dialogue can sometimes be difficult as it can be hard to get complicated messages across. Equality bodies may not always have the capacity (time or knowledge) to react properly to messages. Furtherrmore, considering the increasing phenomenon of hate speech online, and the extensive discussion regarding the right to freedom of speech, the regular monitoring of content on social media channels is becoming more and more complex. Equality bodies may not have the resources to work regularly and effectively with social media, and this must be taken into account before creating social media profiles.
This publication was prepared by Adam Zbiejczuk and Jaroslav Faltus (Key Influencers Active), Katrine Gaustad Pettersen (Equality and Antidiscrimination Ombud, Norway) and Sarah Cooke O’Dowd (Equinet Secretariat).
We are very grateful to have received the support of the Equinet Working Group on Communication Strategies and Practices, as well as staff members of equality bodies who attended the training sessions on social media for equality bodies that took place in the Facebook Offices in Dublin in October 2016 and April 2017. Special thanks to our colleagues at the Federal Antidiscrimination Agency (Germany),Office of the Equal Opportunities Ombudsperson (Lithuania), Office of the Ombudswoman (Croatia), Ombud for Equal Treatment (Austria), Ombudsman for Equality (Finland),Public Defender of Rights (Czech Republic) and Unia (Belgium) for more extensive contributions.
Useful input and editing were proposed by the trainers of the April 2017 session, Mahtab Khan and Adam Stokes (eyewitnessapp.com).