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International Cooperation

Public Participation Guide: Social Media

Social Media outreach can provide interested stakeholders with project information, announcements, documents, and opportunities for input or discussion. Social media, such as Twitter, WhatsApp, and Facebook, allows for the use of a wide variety of media formats, including video. Social media allow stakeholders to share and obtain information quickly, effectively, and at low cost. Social media platforms provide the chance to inform a wide range of people about issues and to invite users to become involved in a variety of ways.

Social media platforms provide opportunity for greater involvement of stakeholders and should be used to compliment other outreach activities. Not all stakeholders have access to the internet and this must be taken into account in its use and application.


  • Provide public information about the project
  • Serves as a real time outreach tool
  • Used to obtain public input via tweets, messages, Facebook posts
  • Reaches large numbers of people with enormous amounts of information
  • Offers a low cost way of distributing all types of documents and media
  • Offers a highly accessible forum for advertising upcoming events and posting project updates
  • Can be used to provide streaming video of events and activities and enable participation of stakeholders in remote locations and those unable to attend meetings or events 

Challenges to Consider

  • Many people still do not have access to the web
  • Many people are still not social media-literate or have slow access or will not be able to access all available content
  • Its success as a participatory tool is important, but cannot completely replace face-to-face interaction
  • The anonymous nature of many social media users presents challenges for honest and open interaction among stakeholders
  • Information overload and poor design can prevent people from finding what they need

Principles for Successful Planning

  • Design all social media posts thoughtfully - all the levels of information, links and illustrations available are necessary to inform and engage the user
  • Design your social media program knowing that it will be shared with other stakeholders
  • Ensure that you have alternative communication options for those who are not social media-literate or do not have access to the internet
  • Consider usernames and hashtags (#) that will give stakeholders information about the project
  • Place the social media platform addresses on all correspondence and other printed material from the organization

Resources Needed


  • Social media requires knowledgeable and readily available staff to ensure it is designed well and kept working and up-to-date


Planning Time

  • Designing social media outreach should be strategic and should be tracked to make sure your outreach is working

Implementation Time

  • Social media should be maintained throughout the life of the project


  • Design and creation of a good social media program requires trained staff 
  • Invest in training

Group Size

  • Unlimited

Most relevant participation levels:

  • Social Media can be used at all levels on the IAP2 spectrum

Explore the full Public Participation Guide.


For additional information on EPA's Public Participation Guide, contact:

Shereen Kandil
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of International and Tribal Affairs (2650R)
1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20460