Social media has become a part of many peoples’ everyday lives, but if you’re still asking yourself, ‘what is social media?’ you’re not alone. The social media world is large, complex and constantly evolving. Examples of social media tools include Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
In its simplest form, social media is a shift in how people discover, read and share news and information. By communicating online, everyday people can comment and become connected to information in ways that are not possible through traditional media.
So as a patient, carer, family member or friend of someone with kidney cancer, this means more than ever before you have the opportunity to have a voice, and have it heard by many people. The more contacts you make or followers you attract online can increase the volume of your voice, so the right people hear it.
But as you engage in the online world, remember whatever you post on the Internet lives on forever. Be mindful of this when posting a comment or linking to a video, for example. Always think: Is this something that may come back to hurt you in the future?
How to use Social media for advocacy
Social media is a quick and easy way to connect to people all over the UK, and best of all – it’s free! You may know people in your community who want to help in your efforts to improve the quality of life of those with kidney cancer. But by using social media, you can extend your network even further and share information with people beyond your immediate circle of family and friends.
There are multiple social media outlets. Here are a few examples of how various outlets can be used:
Facebook is a social networking website where users can add friends, send their friends messages and update their personal profile to notify friends about what is happening in their lives. Users can join and create groups according to their interests or areas of expertise, upload pictures and videos, and post links to their favourite websites.
What you can do: Join our patient support forum on Facebook and connect with others around the UK with similar goals. Invite your friends to join too. You can also post relevant and interesting articles and videos about kidney cancer so your friends can see them and share with their friends as well.
Similar to Facebook, Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows users to send and read messages known as ‘tweets’. Twitter is less personalised and tweets can only be up to 280 characters and, therefore, need to be very brief. Tweets are posted on the user’s profile page and delivered to the user’s subscribers, known as ‘followers’.
What you can do: Sign up for Twitter and you can give real-time recaps of your kidney cancer advocacy efforts. Find out if your local government representatives have Twitter accounts and begin ‘following’ them. This is a great way to get close and learn about some of their interests before you meet with them.
YouTube is a video sharing website that allows users to upload and share videos, with their friends and the general public. The content is generated by users and can include movie and television clips, music videos as well as short original videos.
What you can do: Speak to us about uploading a personal video of your experience with kidney cancer. Remember, before posting a video, double check to make sure it does not include any copyrighted content.
Tips for success with social media
- Share often. What is new on the Internet can become old very quickly. Be active and keep on top of your social media.
- Don’t be ashamed to ask for help. Kids, grandchildren, nieces and nephews can be a great resource when it comes to technology. The younger generation has grown up with social media and can help teach you strategies to make it easier than it may appear.
- Online lives on. The social world is in the public domain and can live online forever. Remember to pause before you post.