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A Primer on HCDP Social Media

We're going to need more good people becoming louder about what is and isn’t within the bounds of civilized society.”

This 2021 quote by North Carolinian John Pavlovitz has been cited often over the past two years, including here at HCDP. For those who are interested in “becoming louder” using social media, please keep reading!

I’m part of the HCDP social media team and I’ve worked in communications my whole career, including running social media accounts for nonprofits and a tech company. While I’m not an expert, I have learned a few things along the way that I’d like to share.

First, I’m happy to say that HCDP has a healthy and active social media presence. We have public accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter/X, Threads, and, most recently, TikTok. Dalton does a great job of putting shareable information on the website and both he and Megan have a talent for creating attractive banners and GIFs, so we always have good, up-to-date content. From what I’ve seen, we are much more active on social media than most county parties on either side. To give a snapshot of activity, in the month of July our Twitter/X account had 26.7K tweet impressions and 4338 profile visits. These analytics probably exaggerate, and some of this activity could be from bots, but still, that’s not nothing, and unlike signage, it is free.

It’s important to note that we also have a private Facebook group, which is large and active. The group is great for providing a safe place where we can pass along news, commiserate, and share memes. But the group is not at all a good way to reach people outside our bubble, which is one of the main goals of social media. Posts cannot be shared beyond the group without using workarounds and many of the posts aren’t suitable in tone to reach persuadable voters anyway.

Sharing posts from one of our public accounts, however, does three important things—it amplifies our message, it brings awareness to our social media accounts so we can grow followers, and it lets people know that they do indeed have friends and family members who are NOT right-wing conservatives.

All of these are important, but I believe the last is most crucial. Representation matters. I know after living here for more than 30 years and growing up in a nearby county that there are many people who assume that virtually all their acquaintances are conservatives, and they believe what the right wing tells them about us. Why wouldn’t they if the only thing they hear are right-wing talking points?

A good way to encourage people to question these old ideas is to let them know that their own friends and neighbors have progressive values, that real people whom they like and respect believe in things like social justice, reproductive rights, environmental protection, and gun safety.

“Coming out” as a blue dot in a red state is not for everyone. People have different abilities and situations. Many contribute in other ways such as door knocking or phone banking or contacting representatives. These are all extremely important!

At the same time, I’d like to ask everyone at HCDP to at least consider being a social media amplifier because I believe these people play an important role and we could use a lot more of them. And really, if we’re too reticent to publicly state core democratic beliefs--that white supremacy is bad, for example--what kind of world will we be living in next year?

Take a look at the guidelines below and see if you’d like to be an amplifier. Or, if you’d like to learn more, please contact our third vice chair, Dalton. He will make sure one of us gets back to you.

Thanks for reading! Elizabeth J.

Guidelines for being a HCDP social media amplifier

  • Set aside a time to visit our feed at least once a week—you will not see most of our posts if you wait for them to show up in your feed.

  • See if there are posts you could share on your account, adding your own personal commentary. The frequency of this will largely depend on the platform—each has its own flavor. (Liking our posts is nice, but it doesn’t do much to spread our message.)

  • Please try to be non-inflammatory in your introductory comments. The goal is to reach “persuadable” voters as well as to motivate our own side.

  • Helpful tip—if you refer to the other side, use an adjective in front of “GOP” or “Republicans” to have broader appeal—ie, “the current NC GOP” or “today’s radical Republicans.” We’re trying to reach people who have voted Republican in the past—we don’t want to turn them off at the gate.

  • Similarly, avoid being partisan when it’s feasible. Young voters in particular want to hear about issues, not the Democratic party per se.

  • If you are trying to keep your social media a “politics free” zone, I understand. To a degree, I do that as well, but there are ways to share our values without being obnoxious or starting an unproductive exchange. I personally treat each platform differently—on Twitter I’m extremely political, but I use the other platforms primarily to stay in touch with people and I don’t want them to get turned off by too many political posts. Still, I post enough that people know I support progressive candidates and policies. I’m just careful about how I do it.

  • Try starting off by sharing news about an event. This is not provocative—it’s just news. You can add that you’re thinking of attending or something like that. Voting information is another good, non-controversial thing to share. If someone clicks on it and it takes them to our page, they may take time to look around and learn more about us.

  • On Facebook, if you have a connection who is hard-core MAGA, you can exclude them from a post’s audience. I have done this on rare occasions—it’s a last resort and it won’t work if you have a lot of connections in this category (Bless your heart!). But it is an option. If you do get negative reactions, it is generally good practice not to engage with them. Depending on the platform, you can hide or delete the comment or block the person if necessary.

  • Also on Facebook, if you are comfortable, set the privacy settings for the post to be “public” so other people can share and expand our reach even further. Remember to set it back to your preferred settings afterward!

  • Every so often, reach out to a progressive friend here or elsewhere and invite them to amplify our message, too. You could explain that this is a way for progressives in blue states to support our hard work. Feel free to share these guidelines with them if you like. In general, the more followers and interaction we have, the better the algorithm works for us.


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