Be Real with Social Media

Non-profit organizations such as Semiahmoo House Society that support people who have disabilities through programs and services face a dilemma: we have a responsibility to advocate for the people we support but we have little money to do so. Social media can play a part in resolving this dilemma if it is used in an authentic fashion. At Semiahmoo House Society we have been using Facebook pages and Twitter to share who we are, advocate for the inclusion of people who have disabilities, and promote events such as our Taste of BCs Finest evening. I have found that our social media posts get the most action and reaction when they feature people who are part of our organization’s community. A post about scientific research on autism engages 200 people; a picture of people we support and our staff playing Foosball engages five times that many. A recent video post to our Facebook page demonstrates how social media can be used to share who we are and advocate for the people we support in a fun and authentic manner.

On February 27th, Semiahmoo House Society, participated in Pink Shirt Anti-Bullying Day. Stephanie, our Director of HR, suggested we create a Harlem Shake video to promote our stand against bullying (yes, I realize that when over-40 social worker-type people start making Harlem Shake videos then the videos may no longer be hip…). On the morning of the 27th, we interrupted a managers’ meeting and in less than an hour had filmed, edited and posted Semiahmoo House’s Harlem Shake.

Within a day, the Harlem Shake Facebook post had received significant interest online (over 1000 views, which for us is pretty decent). It was being shared and enjoyed by people online—most views were coming from these shares, not from our Facebook page, demonstrating that people appreciated the video.
I loved the post because it did three things in a very authentic fashion:
  1. Allowed people to participate in a cooperative and creative endeavour at work
  2. Showed that Semiahmoo House values inclusion
  3. Demonstrated that people with disabilities are the same as everyone else.
I could make 100 speeches about inclusion and they would not have the power of this amateur dance video put together in less than an hour for free.
The good news for non-profit organizations is that they don’t need a big budget and a professional public relations team to get their message out and to advocate for the people they support.
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