Social Media Engagement

November 01, 2011

You've heard of Facebook and Twitter, and you might already have jumped into the social media universe. "Social media" are a way you can listen, communicate and participate with your fan base in a very personal and natural exchange. Here are some tips for making the most of the two big names.

Top Ten Tips for Social Media

  • Think about what you can offer your supporters, and how you can facilitate, not how you can “push out messages.”
  • Speak as a person, not as a company.
  • There are natural storytellers. Find them, and the best stories you can tell.
  • Find someone really passionate about talking with your supporters.
  • Create ways for your supporters to actively participate in content creation. Many of the most successful social media efforts are truly grassroots.
  • Always be listening.
  • The more responsive you can be the better.
  • Building relationships is a long-term commitment, not just a “campaign.”
  • Learn by doing. It’s really the only way.
  • Experiment and don’t be afraid of “failure.” If something doesn’t work, adjust and keep trying or try something else.

What is Social Media?

"Social Media" is an umbrella term that defines the various activities that integrate technology, social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio.

Social media outlets, like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, can complement more traditional communication and marketing efforts.

Three Ways to Engage

Listen: Social media can help you learn about your fans and understand how the Special Olympics brand is viewed in your community.
Communicate: You can pass on information about local events or breaking news to your community of followers. Plus, information on the web can spread quickly when you engage influential users.
Participate: Social media provides the opportunity to converse with followers and can serve as a customer service tool when responding to questions. 

When deciding which tools to use, remember to go where your supporters are and where you are most comfortable. See below for the benefits and tips for the two biggest brands in Social Media.

Facebook Quick Tips

  • Ask questions to start conversations with fans
  • Using the @ symbol, tag other organizations/followers in your status updates to help create a network of supporters
  • Use Facebook as your page and comment on other pages to start conversations
  • Create an easy “Vanity URL” so others may find you
  • Make sure you add the Special Olympics page to your favorites
  • Photos are a great way to share the Special Olympics experience with your followers; you can upload individual photos and ask for followers to share their comments or share a whole album.
  • Remember you can post content from YouTube, online newspapers, blogs and more


Facebook is a powerful social network that combines newsfeeds from your friends and what they “like” across the Internet. It can help you stay in touch with supporters, network with other organizations, gain advocates for the cause, drive fans to events, boost the visibility of your local website and share photos or videos.

Twitter Quick Tips

  • Share useful information, don’t just broadcast – include links to your site and others as relevant, re-tweet other tweets if it’s pertinent to your organizations and don’t be afraid to engage and ask followers questions
  • Update several times a day
  • Follow people who participate or support Special Olympics in your area
  • If you’re mentioning another person/organization in your tweet, use the @ symbol to link directly to their profile
  • Using a link shortening site is a great way to save valuable character space. Try for website links and for photos.
  • If you’re hosting a local event, create a hashtag where people can follow tweets from anyone at the event (a hashtag is a # followed by your topic with no spaces; i.e. #specialolympics)
  • Monitor what’s being said about your program. Search for keywords on Twitter or use a tool like Tweet Deck to aggregate multiple keyword searches (this is also a great way to find content you want to re-tweet). 


Twitter is a microblogging service that allows you to share what is going on right now in 140 characters or less. Twitter can help you connect with athletes and supporters, see what people are saying about your program, share important content via photos, videos or web links and let everyone know about your next big competition or event.