By Kate Luce Angell
Some of you might remember me as the person who helped to develop the 2010 Pennsylvania Report Card. Since October 2015, I’ve been leveraging social media to help the four PA sections of ASCE promote the current campaign in support of the Highway Trust Fund and spread the word about the 2014 PA Report Card.
This autumn, as part of that effort, I audited all of the social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) currently used by the Pennsylvania sections and gave a report to section leaders on where their social media efforts stand. At the end of the year, I’ll take a step back and look at how successful we’ve been in advancing our Highway Trust Fund and Report Card efforts.
Looking at sections’ social media accounts, it was great to see people posting reminders for ASCE and Young Member activities, pictures from get-togethers, and job opportunities. In the Social Media Playbook, ASCE says that the first two principles of social media efforts should be connecting with members (communicating locally), and acting as stewards of the society and its mission (promote events, share photos, celebrate member successes). Everyone was doing a pretty good job on these two. Kudos to all the hard-working volunteers who maintain these accounts! It isn’t easy, I know.
However, ASCE social media also has a third principle: Promote civil engineering. That involves “sharing civil engineering news and interest stories so your community can understand the importance of your members’ work.”
This goal is a little harder to meet for most sections. But it doesn’t have to be! I’ve put together a few tips to make it easier and more intuitive for you—whether you’re in charge of your section’s social media efforts or even just want to use your personal accounts to spread the word.1. Think of yourself as a citizen advocate for ASCE and the profession. You’re part of a profession that of which people don’t automatically understand the critical importance. You have to help them out and educate them. If you’re handling your section’s social media, that means keeping on top of the efforts of ASCE National, as well as what’s going on at the state and local level, and lending your social media voice to help make people aware and take action. It means recognizing the cool things engineers are doing in your community and posting about them. If you are using your personal account, you can post about civil engineering topics to your friends and family. And, if you’re game, you could even be tweeting out to your legislator about causes like infrastructure funding.
2. Like, Follow, Repost, Re-tweet. There’s a lot of great civil engineering social media content out there, ripe for re-posting and re-tweeting. Here are some ASCE options you may already be following:
But there’s also AASHTO, the Society of Women Engineers, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, PennDOT, and so many more. Make it easy on yourself—if civil engineering news shows up in your Facebook and Twitter feed, you can amplify the message with just a click of the button. Or join the conversation at hashtags like #FixtheTrustFund.
3. Ask for help and get the OK. ASCE National has a nifty Social Media Playbook that can help you navigate the social media world. If a section wants to begin a new social media effort, ASCE National asks that you let them take a look first. But even if your section’s social media is well-established, you can always consult ASCE’s social media experts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Don’t expect big results right away. Social media can be a powerful tool to amplify important messages, but payback in the form of more followers or Likes might not come easily or quickly. Still, it’s worth it to have a social media presence that can work to raise awareness of all the great things civil engineers do, and how important you are to your communities. That’s a message that bears repeating.