Social media is the best way to connect with people, and for disability organisations in New Zealand, it is heavily under-used.
CCS Disability Action and Parent to Parent, two of New Zealand’s most well-known disability focused community organisations have taken a big step toward social media in the last year. Every branch of Parent to Parent has its own Facebook page, and the National body has its own as well. CCS Disability Action Waikato and CCS Disability Action Bay of Plenty have regular content going on their own Facebook pages, but it has only been in the last year that this has really “stepped up a notch”.
Behind the scenes, both organisations are well aware that their use of social media needs to be increased.
It’s not like organisations in the disability sector are the only ones slightly behind on the social media front either. Nearly every business now days, even not-for-profit charities, need to be focusing their marketing strategies to the online spectrum, and sites like Facebook are hugely crucial because that is where the people are.
CCS Disability Action in particular wants to enable the people they support to advocate for themselves as much as possible, by allowing people with various levels of disability to share their stories.
Last year, a “call to blog” was sent out, asking CCS Disability Action members to send in blogs for publication on the National website that discuss the issues in the disability sector that matter to them, or to share their stories of living life with a disability.
Both CCS Disability Action and Parent to Parent also have Twitter feeds and update regularly.
So why, with the two major forms of social media covered, does it feel like New Zealand’s disability community is still seriously lacking on the web?
This isn’t exclusive to New Zealand, other countries are facing the same issue, and once again a portion of the answer is down to a lack of push for anything disability related by the mainstream media. In New Zealand, the two big news corporations are all over Facebook and Twitter, and they have a large audience of people, including those with disabilities to reach, but you don’t often hear a lot.
As the discussions about how to best use social media continue, what also needs to be taken into account is how to get young people with disabilities connecting together online. Facebook groups are a great way to achieve this, and it has the potential to further grow the audience. Keeping an existing regional Facebook page is good, but it doesn’t allow for much group discussion about the issues that matter or aid to find ways to solve them, it acts as advertising more than anything else.