A key part of a Select Committee’s role is producing reports that make recommendations to Government. When a report has been produced and a date set for its launch, our job is to promote it on social media.
We aim to use social media to reach communities of people online who will genuinely care about the content of the report, and will share it with other people who have an interest or will be affected by it, with the aim of maximising the report's influence.
We recently launched the Women and Equalities Committee's Sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools report with a multimedia package of content, and were pleased with the results. This is a run-through of how we went about it, and why it worked.
Sharing the necessary detail
One of the things we’ve been experimenting with is what we call a 'statement graphic.' With these, we aim to give our audience instant access to the content of a report, highlighting the key findings and providing them in as shareable a format as possible.
But, this is a trade-off. Shorter sentences are much more shareable, and grab the user’s attention much more than what looks, at first glance, like a full A4 page of text.
To counteract this, the graphics are designed to replicate the feel of reading an article online. The image is the standard dimensions of smartphone screens as the chances are that the graphic will be viewed on a mobile device. The egg shell colour, rather than white, improves the readability, as does the serif font Minion, which is the same as is used in reports, providing continuity.
The longer statement allowed the Committee to explain the three, inter-dependent recommendations all together, but in a readable, shareable format.
Driving traffic to the report
As well as providing this shareable format, we also want to drive people to the report page and read more. We therefore coupled the statement graphic with a 'read our report' graphic, as a strong call to-action is vital for driving traffic to the report.
Using video to increase impact
As well as sharing the recommendations and driving traffic, we wanted to add a human element to the launch, and show that sexual harassment affects young women's lives. We therefore decided to produce videos where young women could support the Committee's recommendations by reading them out to camera. In so doing, we wanted to simultaneously share the message of the report and show who it was designed to protect.
We took the opportunity to attend an event launching the report at the Girlguiding headquarters, and spoke to some of their advocates, who were keen to be involved. We believed this would add impact and encourage people to share the recommendations even further.
Between them, the three recommendation videos were viewed almost 2,000 times.
The effect is quite striking:
Making use of influencers
Also attending this event was Laura Bates, a well-respected and influential figure in the public sphere, having founded the Everyday Sexism Project.
We organised for her to do a piece to camera, which was really important to us as it’s rare for a committee to have an influencer who’s so widely recognised by its audience, and with such a huge online following of their own. We then arranged for the @EverydaySexism account to share our tweets, significantly extending the reach of the report.
The videos and graphics were also shared by both Girlguiding, we also arranged for the Education Committee to share, who have a highly relevant audience. Together, we managed to activate an amplification network, which played a large role in the report appearing in over 160,000 Twitter feeds.
The report was also shared on our new House of Commons Facebook page.
This report launch was perhaps our most successful to date, far exceeding the reach of the committee's previous reports, and resulting in their biggest month on Twitter ever.
What I think this shows is that an approach with a wider variety of graphics and videos can be highly effective. The statement graphics are evidently ideal for getting larger amounts of information out on Twitter. And, perhaps more importantly, it shows that there’s an appetite for more information from Select Committees in this shareable format. We’ll be refining them in the future as we gather more data to make them even more effective.
But it's also important to balance out the finer detail with videos of different people affected by the issue that's being tackled in the report. If we have the option of talking to someone who has a real life stake in the report or inquiry, we should take that opportunity.
With a rich, engaging, and varied package of content, we can extend the reach and impact of Select Committee reports online.
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