When members of The American Legion convene for the Washington Conference and legislative rally later this month, they will share with Congress the organization's top priorities and initiatives. They also have the opportunity to share their messages outside the Beltway by posting their experiences on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
To get the most mileage out of those social media posts, strategic tagging can greatly increase the number of people who see the item.
There are two simple ways to create tags on social media platforms. One is to use a hashtag – simply a word or phrase preceded by a hash mark (#). When a user adds a hastag to a post, the word or phrase becomes discoverable by other users who search for that word or phrase.
The second type of tag is a social media mention. A mention is the use of the at symbol (@) followed by a username. When a user on social media receives a mention, an alert is sent - which allows the mentioned person to share the tagged post with friends and followers.
Putting it into practice
Here are a few simple tips for putting these techniques into practice on Capitol Hill:
1. Know before you go: Before arrival at a meeting on the Hill, find out which social media platforms your congressional representatives use frequently. Find out their usernames on each platform so you can quickly tag them with social media mentions. Also search social media channels to find out the most popular hashtags for the topics you might be discussing.
2. Create your post: Simple messages are often the best. Be gracious and thank the member of Congress for taking time, using @username to tag them with a social media mention. (Don't forget to tag @AmericanLegion so The American Legion National Headquarters can retweet your post to more than 92,000 followers.
3. Add a side of hashtags: Make sure you use #LegionStormsHill and #WashConf2018 so that a flurry of activity on social media builds around this legislative rally. You can also add other hashtags that pertain to topics you may have discussed like #veteran, #PTSD or #MilSpouse
4. Say cheese: Don't forget to add photos to posts. A posed group photo with the member of Congress during your visit, photos taken during the meeting, or a selfie snapped outside the office will help catch more eyes as a post rolls by on social media feeds.
Bring it home
Members back home during the Washington Conference can use similar social media strategies. When visiting senators or representatives back in home districts, make posts with tags and mentions. Do the same when meeting with mayors, governors and other legislators as well. These tactics can be used well beyond the February conference to show new audiences know how The American Legion is serving their community, state and nation.
For more background on The American Legion's legislative positions, visit the following links:
2018 Legislative Agenda Dropsheet
A trifold brochure that outlines the top legislative priorities of The American Legion. A great tool to leave behind after your meeting.
2018 Legisltive Priorities
Report submitted to accompany testimony before Congress by American Legion National Commander Denise M. Rohan.
American Legion Family Legislative Handbook
Pocket guide to help groups stay organized and plan for legislative activities.
Legislative Action Center
A site that maintains current status of issues and legislation of interest to Legion members and veteran communities. It also provides legislative alerts and updates, media links and convenient forms to take action.