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How to use social media to raise awareness of Community Sponsorship

Social media can feel like an intimidating place sometimes but it’s actually a wonderful way to connect with other people who want to welcome refugees and inspire others to get involved.

1. Choose your platforms

As a general rule, we recommend using Facebook for raising awareness locally and Twitter for joining national (or international!) conversations. But, like all general rules, there are many exceptions so don’t be bound by this distinction. You know your local area best and if you know that there are lots of local conversations happening on Twitter, follow your instincts!

If your volunteers already heavily use one platform, prioritise the use of that platform because you can tap into their existing networks. For example, you can invite your friends on Facebook to like your Community Sponsorship Group's page.

And don't forget about Instagram! If you have a volunteer who's particularly good at taking photos, Instagram can be a really brilliant way to raise awareness.

2. Create a base

On Twitter, you'll need to create an account for your Community Sponsorship Group. Check out this account from a Community Sponsorship Group in North London.

On Facebook, a volunteer who already has an account can set up a group or a page for your Community Sponsorship Group. Here's a useful article giving some pros and cons of groups versus pages if you're trying to decide between the two. And check out this Facebook page from a Community Sponsorship group in the South West of England.

3. Join the conversation

Use #CommunitySponsorship so that your posts will be picked up by other Community Sponsorship Groups and charities supporting the movement. During Refugee Week you can also use #RefugeeWeek2020 to join the broader conversation.

4. Make use of your personal social media accounts

When you set up a profile for your Community Sponsorship Group, you might find that it takes a little while to get followers. But lots of your volunteers will probably already have accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and will have lots of followers and friends. It's a good idea to make use of your existing networks by getting your volunteers to share the your Community Sponsorship group’s posts and encouraging people to follow, like or join.

5. Use pictures and videos

Whichever platform you use, posts with pictures get more views. And if you want to get even more views, use videos!

Video clips on social media should be short. Aim for 30 seconds or so. If you can, try to include subtitles as lots of people watch without having the sound up.

6. Amplify others' voices

Search #CommunitySponsorship to discover posts from other #CommunitySponsorship Groups and the organisations that support them. Share these posts and add comments. This way you'll help build momentum across the Community Sponsorship movement more widely.

If you're new to social media and you're unsure about creating posts yourself, sharing other people's content is a good place to start!

7. Tell stories

People respond to stories. It's just how our brains work! If you have a photo that you want to share, think of a way you can make this into a little story. It doesn't need to be long or complex -- just frame it with a beginning, a middle and an end, and give it a setting and a main character.

Remember: If you're going post about the refugees you support or any of your volunteers, you MUST check that they are happy for you to do this. Don't post about someone without asking them.

8. Find stories in yourselves

Community Sponsorship is special because not only is it about supporting refugees, but it's also about recognising the positive impact that welcoming strangers can have on communities and the individuals within those communities.

Try to tell these stories – how has welcoming refugees changed you? What have you gained from this experience? We often hear that by getting involved in Community Sponsorship, people get to know their neighbours for the first time and feel a new sense of purpose. Tell these stories to inspire others to get involved.

9. Be prepared for questions

A lot of Community Sponsorship groups find that they are contacted on social media by refugees who want information about how they can be resettled in the UK. We know that you got involved in Community Sponsorship because you want to help refugees, and it can be really hard to get messages from people in really difficult circumstances.

But it's important to be clear that neither your Community Sponsorship group nor Reset has any influence over who is selected for resettlement. You shouldn't give people false hope or promise to help if you know that you can't.

You can send people our short guide to eligibility for Community Sponsorship in English and Arabic.

Explaining eligibility for Community Sponsorship

10. Dealing with negative comments

Sometimes you will encounter people on social media who disagree with welcoming refugees. Our general advice is not to engage if you get negative comments on a post or on your profile. People don't change their views in the comments sections. By replying, you're more likely to waste your own energy and you may risk turning your post into a bigger debate with others wading in. If you do find that your post has attracted nasty comments, you can always delete the post. And if you get a hateful comment, you should report the account.

But we find that the vast majority of comments are supportive!