Getting—and keeping—participants interested in workforce development and human services programs can be a big challenge, particularly with the volume of services available in New York City. Many service providers rely on classic recruitment techniques such as flyers, door-to-door outreach and targeted presentations at partner organizations to drive in participants. But, lately, a lot of the organizations we work with are looking for ways social media can help to keep them in their participants’ minds. Here are some tips we’ve seen work: 

What sites should I use? 

Just like any form of outreach, different social media sites serve different purposes and different audiences.

  • Facebook and Twitter reach broad audiences and are great for making announcements.
  • LinkedIn is the perfect complement to a workforce development program. Help your participants make their own profiles, and make sure they connect to each other. This is a built-in alumni network!
  • FourSquare – Fewer people use this but it’s the most place-based social network with highly engaged, young users. Participants can check in at your events and win badges (or maybe even prizes!) for attending the most events (in FourSquare lingo, becoming the “mayor” of your location).

What do I post?

  • Celebrate your participants’ successes! Post photos of graduating classes or participants who just got a job. Just make sure you have permission from participants before doing so—and that they understand what they’re agreeing to.
  • Post workshop and event schedules. Cancelling a workshop? Notify people using social media!
  • Engage participants in real-time Q&A. It can seem daunting at first, but social media is all about entering a dialog with participants. Responding after a few days won’t resonate, unfortunately.
  • Post helpful resources such as links to relevant government sites or articles that reinforce things you’ve talked about during workshops.

What if I don’t have a lot of followers?

See if you can piggy-back on someone else’s pre-existing social media presence to get a larger audience. Ask others to post information about your program or to share the messages you post with their audience.

  • Your parent organization: If you’re launching a new program, see if you can leverage your parent organization’s Twitter feed or Facebook page. Just make sure the person managing social media for the organization has the information needed to respond to questions about your program—or a quick way to get hold of someone who does. You might dedicate a member of your team to be the point person who will eventually be your own social media guru.
  • Partner organizations or businesses with a lot of Facebook or Twitter followers.

What else should I remember?

  • Having a weak social media presence can actually be worse than having none at all. Make sure you post regularly, and respond to questions in a timely manner—no later than 24 hours.
  • Build time to manage your social media sites into staff schedules. It can’t be an after-thought.

Questions? Have a suggestion to share? Drop us a line at info@publicworkspartners.com or at our Twitter or LinkedIn page.