Coalitions in Action—WHEN Coalition Gains New Members and Engagement Through Social Media Initiative

“The Webster Health & Education Network (WHEN) was established in 1995 and is a recognized leader in the advocacy and promotion of healthy, substance-free behaviors and lifestyles in the community of Webster, New York,” said the coalition’s Executive Director Janine Sanger. “WHEN has always worked closely with the Webster Central School District, the town and community partners to support drug education and awareness initiatives. In 2018, WHEN became a CADCA member coalition and was renamed Webster Health and Education Network: A Drug Free Community Coalition (WHEN: DFCC). Our organization was awarded a federal grant by The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) in December 2019 and will receive $625,000 over the next five years in DFC grant funds to involve and engage our local community to prevent substance use among youth.”

“The inability to meet in person or host events, and the cancelation of community-wide in-person events has required us to redouble our efforts to reach our community online,” said Sanger. “We continued member meetings using Google Meet. We also built a new, more robust website to provide additional resources to the community online. We have produced several social media campaigns to educate the community about the risks nicotine and alcohol pose to kids, as well as to broaden our reach and name recognition within the community.”

“One of our most popular social media endeavors has been the ‘Meet Our Members’ campaign, where we introduced coalition members with their photo and why they choose to be a member of our coalition,” said Sanger. “We captured this information via a Google form sent to coalition members. We found that the public is drawn to personal stories and getting to know individuals doing great work in their own community. The campaign expanded our social media reach, website traffic and even brought in a couple of new members. It's a simple project any coalition could execute, despite pandemic limitations.”

“Because we are limited to online activities for the foreseeable future, we have invested in the necessary resources to maximize our online efforts,” said Sanger. “These include a more robust website allowing for the engaging presentation of data, email marking, event ticketing and members-only resources; Access to better stock images and graphics for use in our digital communications; Access to marketing tools like Canva Pro to assist in quick and easy creation and scheduling of marketing materials; And a dedicated part-time media management specialist to work on these projects.”

“We find that our audience is more drawn to upbeat, personalized information,” said Sanger, “so we focus on messaging that promotes protective factors. Please consider following us on social media @whendfcc and we will follow you back so we can jointly amplify our messaging!”