Understanding Social Media with Maja Graham

By Christine Jean-Baptiste 

Before taking on the role as Chief of Social Media serving Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, Maja Graham spearheaded many highly engaging content for Canadian Army Public Affairs. For example, she worked on: Remembrance Day videoStar Wars video, and Multi-camera Livestream of a military and musical concert on Parliament Hill - Fortissimo.

Headshot of Maja Graham
Maja Graham

The public servant said that social media brings a breath of fresh air to traditional communications because it enables government messaging and information in a more creative and unconventional way. Especially in the context of COVID-19. 

We as the Canadian government and more specifically Health Canada during a pandemic environment, we need to leverage it [social media] and be the credible news and information source in encouraging Canadians to follow public health measures, avoiding non-essential travel and the increasing willingness of Canadians to be vaccinated through building trust and confidence in the vaccine,” said Maja.

A lot of the time people think it’s easy to take a key message and tweak it into a Tweet. However, the Chief of Social Media says the job is not that simple.

According to Maja, developing an effective social media strategy requires:

Sergeant Dennis Moore is interviewed by Maja Graham in Paju City, South Korea ahead of the Imjin Classic 2018 hockey game
Canadian Korean War Veteran, Sergeant (Retired) Dennis Moore is interviewed by Maja Graham in Paju City, South Korea ahead of the Imjin Classic 2018 hockey game

As social media is still considered relatively new, a challenge Maja’s team has faced is proving that a social media strategy is effective, which is why she says digital literacy is important.

There is a great need to increase digital and specifically social media literacy within the department to demonstrate the importance of social media but also how qualitative and creative content is more engaging and resonates better with our audience,” she said. 

Maja proposes that another way to overcome this challenge is to test different concepts techniques, to analyze the impact of creative and engaging content. 

In terms of managing a digital team, she says, “you definitely want a team with a diverse set of skills, good writers, creative thinkers, strategic thinkers, graphic designers, those who pay attention to detail, good research skills, etc.

For someone who is trying to enter the social media industry, Maja advises:

  • Keep on top of trends;
  • Research what other departments are doing on social;
  • Don’t think a job in social media is just about being a good writer;
  • Try to think creatively and strategically in terms of messaging but also visuals;
  • And most importantly don’t underestimate yourself, take on a challenge, don’t be shy to ask for help.

For those pursuing a communications career – be creative, don’t be shy about pitching ideas and pitching new concepts, test new ideas, and show initiative,” she said.

There are several resources for social media creatives out there, especially during COVID-19. Start with reading these helpful tools:

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