other people. Don’t be afraid to be human. Engage your expertise Social Media Tips and Tricks for Getting your Message Out By Darcy Totten 1. Post with purpose. Before you invest time and energy into your social chan- nels, clearly define your goals for each channel. Be clear about your intent, your perspective, and your goals in online conversations. 2. Credibility Counts. Assume that whatever you post online will be fact-checked by potentially thousands of people. Be careful to share only credible, factual and trustworthy content and to always cite your sources and offer thanks to those from whom you borrow ideas or continue conversations from. 3. Promote the work you are doing but don’t just blast your audience. Use social channels as a way to interact with your audience, have conversations, debate policy and push ideas forward. Remember, social media is about engag- ing folks at a deep level, telling stories and sharing in an interactive manner that is focused on exchange. 4. Use social listening. Collecting likes and followers is great…and it matters. But it doesn’t matter more than engagement. Use social channels to hear what your community is telling you-What do they care about? What are they angry or excited about? What elicits passionate response? 5. Think twice, publish once. Try to spend at least as much time on your posts as you would on a headline in your local newspaper. Encourage sharing and spirited discussion; otherwise you risk becoming a bulletin board or an island. Make sure you behave the same way you would in person in a room full of your colleagues. 6. Social media belongs in every department. It is an integral part of marketing, communications, education, PR and advocacy. 7. Social doesn’t produce itself. Leveraging social channels takes time, invest- ment, effort and data-driven strategies. On average, try to tweet four to five times a day with different types of content and spread out through the day. For Facebook, two to three posts are sufficient. Remember, pictures are great for Twitter, but video content is king on Facebook. If you aren’t sure what to post, simply share from state ACSA’s page and Twitter account, or head to our Pinterest page for great inspira- tional or best practices content to download and share on Facebook. 8. Engage your expertise. Before sharing anything online, authenticate any infor- mation on which you are not an expert. If you are an expert on a topic, identify that early in the conversation. Your insight is valuable and social media is one way to expand your thought leadership. 20 Leadership Before sharing information online, do your best to authenticate any information on which you are not an expert. If you are an expert, and plan to join an online conversa- tion or debate, identify yourself with specif- ics. If you find that you have misspoken or misrepresented something, be accountable and transparent and admit it quickly. Ethi- cal rules do not go out the window simply because the platform has changed. Integrity matters and is a key part of building your online reputation as a leader. Digital mentoring In addition to being a tool that you can use in your own leadership, social media is also a tool that can be used to help develop new leaders. As with any communications tool, the ability to mentor, guide, and model behavior is inherent. Social media platforms have become places to build and cement relationships, facilitate agreements and build consensus, organize people, and drive change. Simply participating and interact- ing with current leaders helps to hone the skills of emerging leaders as they watch and develop the motivational skills, communi- cations skills, and listening skills needed to become great community-builders and change-makers. True social leaders are brave. They engage in authentic conversation and debate when so moved. They hold space for a multiplic- ity of voices without losing their own. They engage rather than broadcast. Most impor- tantly, they own the space they take. They know that whatever they say is public and that they might make a mistake. They dive in anyway and when, inevitably, they do make mistakes, they own them, apologize, and jump right back in to the conversation. Darcy Totten is a Communications Content Specialist in ACSA’s Marketing and Communications department.