How to Use Social Marketing to Build Healthy Teen Relationships

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Photograph of a young woman liking something on social media

Does your program work to promote healthy relationships among young people? A recent webinar hosted by Futures Without Violence, a national organization that aims to prevent family and relationship violence, explores how to use online social marketing to engage young people in dating violence prevention. The webinar features lessons learned by Start Strong, a multi-site effort to prevent dating violence by teaching youth about healthy relationships. Presenters from Start Strong programs in Idaho, Massachussets and Rhode Island shared how they used social media and other online communication to spark youth dialogue in their communities.

Here are our three favorite tips from the webinar:

  1. Capitalize on pop culture: Start Strong Idaho tied a Facebook campaign about independence to the release of one of the popular "Twilight" teen vampire movies. Staff members handed out relationship quizzes at local movie theaters and created Facebook messages showing how Bella, the lead female character, could choose to better love herself instead of picking between two competing love interests.
  2. Learn how to “hide the broccoli under the cheese”: For Start Strong Boston, it’s important to use language that “sells” events and makes them seem more relevant to young people. A recent workshop on conflict resolution, for example, was promoted on social media as a day to talk about breakups.
  3. Involve youth at all stages of the communications process: Presenters emphasized the importance of youth involvement over and over. Youth not only know what events, topics and communication tools best engage their peers, they can help their friends learn the importance of creating a responsible “online footprint.” A great example of youth involvement came from Sojourner House, Start Strong’s Rhode Island affiliate. When staff decided to create an interactive game about relationships, they asked youth what characters and scenarios they would find interesting. The feedback heavily influenced the game’s final design, which features a high school class of robots interacting with one another.

Listen to the webinar and view the slides on the Futures Without Violence website.

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