Member Spotlights

Missouri Family Health Council

An interview with Suzy Day conducted by Ponta Abadi

 

The Missouri Family Health Council (MFHC), located in Jefferson City, Missouri, is the sole Title X grantee in the state. MFHC serves nearly 50,000 women and men at 76 locations across Missouri, including federally qualified health centers (FQHC), local health departments, Planned Parenthood affiliates, community action agencies, and others. Along with supporting agencies that provide high-quality family planning services through direct service delivery, education, and information, MFHC supports state and federal advocacy efforts in support of policies that strengthen the publicly funded family planning provider network. MFHC leverages social media to advance its policy and organizational priorities and promote the importance of publicly funded family planning. MFHC’s Director of Outreach and Advocacy, Suzy Day, shares MFHC’s social media outreach strategy and provides insight on how MFHC has used various digital platforms to gain influence among key stakeholders.

What social media platforms does MFHC support? Why were these the platforms selected to bolster outreach?
MFHC is on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn. Facebook and Twitter are great ways for MFHC to share information about the current climate of family planning in Missouri and engage with clients and other supporters. It also serves as a platform to distribute information about family planning and general health. Twitter is helpful because it allows the user to quickly and easily aggregate activity and information on a specific topic by searching hashtags. [A hashtag is a label used to make a word or a phrase searchable on social media platforms, for example, #TitleXCutsHurt.]

We wanted to make sure reproductive health information is available to the patients our network serves. To share information about preconception care and family planning methods, MFHC chose to deploy Pinterest, which is a digital platform where individuals can save information to view later. 

LinkedIn is MFHC’s professional collaborative tie. We have a presence on the site to share information about the organization, including job postings, data, and organizational updates with our public health partners.

How do you establish tone for social media platforms? Does the tone vary by platform?
Creating a consistent voice or message but varying your agency’s tone across social media platforms is an effective way to participate in social media. Different constituencies use the varying platforms, and the goal is to reflect those variations. Our tone on Facebook is an online “business casual.” The topics about which we post content relate directly to our organizational objectives and priorities, but our tone is conversational and informative, and the same can be said for Twitter. However, for LinkedIn we strive to maintain a more professional presence. Our tone on Pinterest is like talking to a friend. “Pins,” or posts, on this platform are what you would expect to recommend to your friend or family member.

How does MFHC use social media to advocate for family planning? 
Social media allows MFHC to reach people who are connected to our supporters but with whom we might not have otherwise had an opportunity to connect. These second connections may often align with our mission, broadening our reach. Once you have gained credibility from new supporters, social media provides the space to share information as well as serve as outlets for effective, low-lift strategies to engage in advocacy. 

MFHC also uses social media to encourage engagement and discussion around state and federal legislation regarding family planning. This summer, MFHC created state-specific images that highlight family planning network statistics, services provided, and direct quotes from patients. This was not only important to contribute to the national debate around Title X, but to increase awareness at a state level of anti-family planning legislation. Along with the images, MFHC included information on how our supporters and fellow advocates could contact their legislator or sign a letter to protect Title X funding.

What challenges might a social media manager face? Any specific examples?
Time! Finding high-quality content that is fresh (and also in manageable amounts) that pairs with a relevant image takes time. 

Replying quickly to people on social media is also a good practice. Sometimes engaging on social media will need to take place outside of a typical work day – this often requires social media managers to participate in around-the-clock monitoring and engagement. 

Setting aside time to sketch out organizational guidelines that offer concrete parameters on acceptable content to share has also proved helpful. Your organization must be clear about its mission and the tone of its communications. Without this information, the social media manager, or staff charged with managing social media platforms, may not be able to easily portray the vision of the organization.

What do you enjoy most about managing social media for MFHC? 
I love interacting with users and knowing that information we post on Facebook or Twitter is being received by to those who may not have ever heard about what our organization does and the services we provide, if not for social media.

I also enjoy knowing that people learn and can access timely advocacy information about the value of publicly funded family planning and issues critical to the provider network and patients we care for because it was shared on our platforms. 

What advice would you give to other organizations that want to get started on social media or improve their presence?
You must get the entire organization involved. Everyone should be submitting ideas for content and helping to share the content once it has been posted.

Be real. No one wants to follow a robot organization. Use the skills that you have interacting with patients or colleagues to help influence your organizations tone and voice on social media. 

There no longer is an option to not be online. Being absent from social media not only makes it more difficult for patients and supporters to find you, but may lower your credibility as a high-quality provider or organization. Your social media presence should be an extension of your brand. 

Connect with MFHC on Facebook and Twitter at facebook.com/MissouriFamilyHealthCouncil and @MOFHC, respectively. NFPRHA regularly shares sample social media content in Reproductive Health Watch and its advocacy toolkits. Members can contact NFPRHA staff for additional guidance and resources or with questions about social media.

 

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National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association

1025 Vermont Ave. NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20005
Phone: 202-293-3114  |  info@nfprha.org

© 2011 National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association