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Using social media to create a positive perception of social care

Social media platforms have been a vital source of information for providers during the pandemic, especially while awaiting the publication of guidance. Mark Topps, a Social Media and Marketing Director, outlines how social care decision makers can join the positive movement currently trending online.

We all have things we don’t agree with or that we think could be done better to improve the service and/or sector that we work in. The passion for change is within us all; where we differ is in whether we allow ourselves to unleash this passion and are brave enough to stand up and talk out. However, it’s not necessarily about shouting it from the rooftops or bombarding people with one constant message. You can do it more subtly.

A voice for change

Social media has given us all a voice and enables our comments and opinions to reach thousands of people. If you are new to sharing your opinions on social media and wondering how you can use your voice effectively to create positivity about social care online, then you need to think about how you want to connect with others. Ask yourself questions such as: do I want to use words, videos, pictures, memes, GIFs or something else? Or a combination of them all?

Five steps to success

Statistics from the petitions and campaigns I have published show that Facebook has the biggest engagement of all social media platforms. However, Twitter gains more attention from stakeholders/decision makers and people who share the same view, but does bring with it more negative views from trolls and members of the public than Facebook. If you are looking to reach journalists, then Twitter is probably a better platform for sharing your message, whereas Facebook allows you to join topic-specific groups and find like-minded people. The types of posts that create good engagement in social care are:

  1. Using an image that is captivating or tells the story without the need for too many words in a post, and not just an image depicting ‘an older person in care’.  tweet
  2. Honest views on trending topics that others can relate to, as opposed to sitting on the fence.  tweet example
  3. Polls and asking followers to answer a question or for their opinion.
  4. Using Awareness Days to showcase how your organisation and/or team are embedding this into their day.
  5. Post at different times and use analytics to establish which posts get the most engagement.

How social care began trending

The presence of social care has grown over the last two years on social media. One of the biggest hashtags to use is #GreenHeartForSocialCare which I am proud to have co-produced during the first wave of the pandemic with my co-hosts at The Caring View and alongside the National Care Forum. The idea is for people to add a green heart next to their name on social media to show their support for front-line care staff. Another hashtag is #SparkleForSocialCare which is an initiative from Championing Social Care and designed to bring together the incredible efforts of care workers and care providers and showcase the positive side of social care. I personally tend to also use #SocialCare #Care and #CareOn.

The pandemic highlighted how under-represented social care is and how the continuous changes in guidance led to confusion and annoyance within the sector. However, this created a unified voice and encouraged joined-up working and brought people together. As we have moved into 2022, this unified voice is stronger than ever.

Word choice

It is important when we talk about social care online that we try to evoke a positive message, as all too often the language used from outside of the sector is negative. It is, however, important to portray your views and opinions as this can also help engage with the audience, but from experience you can do this alongside putting forward how you would change something or ask for your audience/followers to offer their suggestions/feelings. You may receive a negative comment or a viewpoint you do not agree with, and it is important to weigh up whether to respond or not as often this can add fuel to the fire. Being open minded to others’ views can help us to learn and shape the future of social care, but it is also worthwhile remembering that, if you do get someone who trolls your posts, you can always hit that ban button to prevent them from having access to your content.

Join the community

During the first wave of the pandemic, I co-founded The Health and Social Care Club, which allows people to join in and engage with conversation and network in real time. The club now has a membership of just under 1,000 members and takes place on Clubhouse every Wednesday at 7pm. What is unique about Clubhouse is that it is a voice-only platform, so you can be as interactive as you want to be. We often host industry leaders and debate relevant topics within the industry, so you may want to get involved in the discussion or just sit back and listen whilst in the bath or cooking dinner.

If you want to be involved, I recommend following these organisations and community groups on social media:

It is worth noting that some of the above may come with a cost associated to them; from experience, you do not need to pay. Follow them on Twitter, network with people within the organisations on social media (LinkedIn and Twitter) and help drive positive change for free.

A reason for action

Positive change does not have to come directly from you. Perhaps look at organisations or charities that share values and goals similar to yours and find out how you can support them with their mission. A small amount of your time could go a long way to supporting a small organisation to achieve big things. For example, I have long supported the National Association of Care and Support Workers to raise awareness of front-line care staff being highly skilled individuals. I have overseen the social media for the organisation for just under two years. Social media is a big part of any organisation and I feel rewarded knowing I am utilising my skills in an organisation that will benefit care and support workers and unpaid carers.

Regardless of whether you choose to raise awareness for positive change on your own, through an organisation or alongside others, it is important to remember your values and what drove you to start doing it in the first place – and to stick to these. Don’t be swayed due to public pressure and remember that your views and opinions will not be the same as someone else’s, so learn from others and respect their viewpoint. Finally, ignore the trolls.

I am always happy to discuss how you can kickstart positive change or if you want to network. You can find me on Twitter @_mark_topps or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Mark Topps is the Social Media and Marketing Director at NACAS (National Association of Care and Support Workers). Email:  Twitter: @_mark_topps

Have you joined online communities in social care? Which groups are you part of and do you think social care has gained a larger online following? Leave your comments below.

About Mark Topps

Mark Topps has worked in the care industry since 2005. He has experience of supporting people with various needs, including elderly, learning disabilities, mental health and children. He has worked in both domiciliary care and within care homes and has experience of developing new businesses and supporting failing services. Mark holds the equivalent of a master’s degree in leadership and Management and has won numerous awards, both for his work within the sector and also for his work campaigning for the rights of those living with dementia and learning disabilities.

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