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Communication Toolkit: Social Media

Social media has become a part of consumers' daily lives and can be an effective and powerful tool for communicating with and engaging an audience. This guide provides a short overview of some larger social media platforms, tips and best practices to engage your audience, and resources to learn more.


Facebook currently has over one billion users and is the most popular social media platform worldwide. It is frequently used to stay updated with friends, but it can also be a great way to connect with a business. People can use Facebook to find business hours, websites, contact information, and learn what a business cares about. Users can "follow" or "like" other Facebook accounts to stay updated on what they post and show support for the brand.

A Facebook account can also be used to connect an audience with upcoming events, merchandise, podcasts, and much more. Including links to related outside materials can create a more interactive Facebook page and keep followers engaged with a business or brand.

For an example, visit the Center for Rural Health's Facebook page.


Twitter is a microblogging platform used to share pieces of information in 280 characters or less. Twitter is an efficient place to share short news updates, sneak peeks, or other information in concise posts called "Tweets."

Tweets are often linked to other accounts or topics to increase the reach of the Tweet. Including another account's "handle" or username (such as @CRuralHealth) in a Tweet notifies the other account that they were mentioned and allows an audience to easily find their profile. Twitter also utilizes "hashtags" (#) to connect similar Tweets and topics. When certain hashtags are posted about frequently, they can become "trending." Utilizing trending topics can be an efficient way to reach a wide audience, so knowing current trends is an important aspect of Twitter.


Instagram is a photo-sharing site used to display aesthetically pleasing images. Instagram's specialty is using eye-catching content to intrigue an audience and create an interest in your business or profile. Instagram also offers users the option to create and share "Reels," which are short videos used to creatively present products or unique aspects of a business. "Following" an account allows a user to be updated when an account of interest posts new content.

Instagram can be a great place to showcase products, such as jewelry, clothing, or other branded merchandise. Products can also be linked to an Instagram Shop, which allows consumers to be directed to your store and purchase products within Instagram's platform.


YouTube is a video-sharing site that is free to view and use. It should be noted that a Google account is required to create a YouTube account, and YouTube accounts can be classified as either business or personal. YouTube is ideal for longer videos, such as instructional videos, that may require detailed explanations. A brand could use a YouTube video to showcase a new project, explain how to use a product, or help an audience understand a complex topic.

YouTube is organized by "channels" which can categorize similar videos or topics. Viewers can like, comment on, and share videos they watch, creating an interactive platform. An audience can also "subscribe" to a channel to be notified when new videos are uploaded. To help viewers understand what they can expect from your YouTube channel, a channel "trailer" can be an effective tool. This trailer, which should be about 30-90 seconds long, can provide a brief introduction or examples of the content that will be uploaded to the channel.


LinkedIn is the world's largest professional network. It can be used to connect employees with past and future employers, showcase professional skills, and update viewers on a company's accomplishments or projects. LinkedIn is known for its networking capabilities, which makes it important to create an easily recognizable profile or company page. An easy way to accomplish this is to customize your URL and use consistent profile and cover photos.

When posting to LinkedIn, it is often best practice to post about relevant topics, such as company updates or industry insights. A LinkedIn audience is often looking to make new connections and learn more about a particular industry or business. Off-topic or irrelevant posts can disengage your audience and turn them away from your business.

For More Information

Want to learn more? This guide features information on additional social media platforms.