Updated: Apr 14
April 9, 2021
By: Camelia Garrick, VVN Community Mobilization Coordinator VISTA & Tiffany Rodriguez, NOW Program Coordinator
Is your organization already using social media to lift up community voices and resources? What tips and tools do you have to share with organizations who are looking to begin using social media? Learn more about how Vital Village Networks is using social media to empower the communities with whom we work.
(the images above are 3 examples of previously posted VVN social media content)
The evolution of communication has taken place right before our eyes, especially during the pandemic. Advancement in technology has quickly transformed how we share information and receive feedback. In March 2020, when the pandemic hit, we found ourselves experiencing dynamic changes in real time. Our Village knew we had to keep the torch that we had lit, some years ago, to support social connections burning. Not being able to meet in-person and engage with our community as we used to, we knew we had to transform our ideas. As our Founder and Director, Renée Boynton-Jarrett, said, "Make room for community leadership in this moment by listening to, acknowledging, and uplifting the voices that have been unheard." To continue to tell the stories of our community leaders and champions, we took to social media. Our flyers turned into digital posts as we persisted with sharing resources and events within the community. We found ways to continue strengthening partnerships by using our platforms to connect people in new ways.
Vital Village Networks created a space for people to continue making meaningful connections when in-person gatherings were no longer safe. We invited community members to share resources and events with us through our newsletters and virtual meetings, and we shared more events via social media, especially for community-led coalitions or organizations who may not have a large social media following. During the pandemic, we rapidly updated The Abundance app, which empowers residents of Roxbury, Mattapan, Dorchester, and other Boston neighborhoods to find easily accessible, free or low-cost, high-quality food resources. We also launched the Wellness Idea Bank, a comprehensive and community-driven guide for those in the Greater Boston Area that helps aggregate resources, ideas, and events for supporting wellness and social connections.
VVN has continued to engage and relay messages within our communities to keep the communication channel open, create learning opportunities, and engage with new folks -- all of which are making a difference. We share otherwise unheard stories while ensuring that the vital signs of the community tell us what needs to be shared and how it will make a difference.
Because VVN is committed to elevating community resources and empowering community members to shape the world in which they live, we do our best to create intentional social media campaigns that are rooted in this goal. One notable project was our social media campaign focused on the 2020 Census. Vital Village worked to make sure accurate information about the census was accessible so that community members could make informed decisions about participating the census. In turn, this data informs the distribution of funding and critical resources including schools and hospitals. The campaign included staying up to date with Boston organizations who were creating social media posts with information that was geared to various Boston communities, including the Vietnamese, Somali, and Spanish speaking communities, and other communities that are highly impacted and typically underrepresented in the Census. Our team shared out posts including resources in various languages, podcasts, and direct links to the US Census website on Twitter and Facebook. You can read Let’s Get Counted: The 2020 Census, which is a VVN team curated blog post available on the NOW Innovation Forum.
The Census project resulted in an incredible connection with Congressional Representative Ayanna Pressley, who serves the 7th District of Massachusetts. Congresswoman Pressley’s office partnered with the Network to host a public webinar that discussed the importance of getting our communities accurately counted. This was an important event that highlighted how social media can be used to help create communities that are more equitable for all!
Most recently, Vital Village Networks launched a new Instagram account (@vitalvillage) that aims to continue sharing community resources, VVN events, and lifting up inspirational leaders in the Network. With the support of DPA Communications and a constant commitment to lifting up community voice, the new Instagram account works alongside the much more longstanding Facebook (@vitalvillagenetworks) and Twitter accounts (@Vital_Village & @NOW_WellChild).
DPA Communications is a local Boston Communications agency that began working with VVN prior to the 2020 National Leadership Summit. They have been incredible content curators and partners by taking our team’s ideas and needs and turning them into creative content using Canva and a social media calendar. DPA continues to meet with us monthly to help our team plan for content and support VVN’s goal of reaching 1,000 Instagram followers by the end of June 2021.
You can help VVN reach that goal by following along on IG by clicking here.
In the future, the VVN plans to utilize LinkedIn more actively as an additional outlet for social media. Our goal is to utilize additional platforms intentionally with respect to our mission to support community capacity. Community voices are already publishing and sharing critical information and helpful resources, and our role as a nonprofit and community organization can simply be to lift up that already rich content and support with building critical connections that empower communities.
Check out a few of the VVN’s favorite social media resources below:
Canva- Canva is a graphic design platform used to create social media graphics, presentations, posters, documents and other visual content. Use canva to create beautiful designs for organization. If you are a registered nonprofit you can apply for a free Pro account.
HootSuite- HootSuite is a social media management platform that covers almost every aspect of a social media manager’s role. With just one platform users are able to curate content and schedule posts, as well as, manage team projects.
GoogleSheets- This allows users to edit, organize, and analyze different types of information. It supports collaboration in that multiple users can edit and format files in real-time, and changes are tracked by a revision history.
Link in Bio- The clickable URL appearing in your Instagram profile description provides essential information about your business and typically contains a link to an organization/company website or business page on Instagram and contact information for your organization.
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn - These social media platforms are the ones currently utilized by VVN because a majority of Network members are comfortable utilizing resources shared on these pages.