There are 100’s of networks out there and more being added everyday, it can be incredibly overwhelming to know where to begin! But have no fear, not everyone of these is a good fit for our vision, mission and constituents. Just because they are out there and “everybody’s doing it” doesn’t mean it is right for you and your chapter.
When we first started looking into social media sites and where to begin – I took a step back and listened. It was really important to get a sense of who’s talking about us? What are people saying – is it positive or negative? Who’s talking about our constituents and the disability world overall? Where is it being said and what is being said.
In order to active listen there are several FREE tools to utilize to see what is being said in the world wide web. Google Alerts: I use this to alert me to what is going on with certain topics, or keywords. So I have about 30 or so keywords set up that pulls information from the whole web (blogs included). Examples of the words I use – down syndrome, ARC, the arc of the united states, peter berns, disability, disabled, health care reform, mental retardation. * It is important to remember that people may not use the terminology we use – there are articles that read disabled person instead of person with a disability. And use MR instead of I/DD. I have keywords that cover both sides, so I don’t miss anything. Twitter Search: Allows you to tap into the Twitterverse. Again I set up a feed (which literally feeds what I want to know into a source) of keywords that I can watch the conversation. Technorati: Blog search (I rely more on my alerts to bring me this info) Google Reader: This is where I run all my alerts, twitter words. I also subscribe directly to blogs. So if you are a chapter and have a blog – chances are I’m watching. There are days where I just might not get the chance to read this and the number of things will be very overwhelming, sometimes you just have to do a “dump” and start over.
I continue to be an active listener, but after seeing what was out there and where resources and information to spread was coming from, it was time to jump on the social media bandwagon. But again, where do you begin? Start small – it is better to start with one network, become familiar with it, build a community and solid relationships then to start with five of them and not have the time to focus on figuring out how they tick and to grow a proper community. We chose Facebook and Twitter. Initially I checked out what other organizations were doing and I read the difference between pages and groups and decided a page would be the most effective for The Arc of the United States. With Twitter, I started a personal account and just jumped in and waited for that lightbulb to go off and really get it, before starting the national account.
Here is a quick chart about the differences between a Page and a Group. To me, it made more sense to have a page, because my goal is more about brand awareness and reaching various audiences. People can see a page without being logged in, people can easily become a “fan” of the organization without the added involvement a group might require. Another HUGE benefit to using a page – is the data you can see. I am HUGE on data and rely very heavily on numbers.
Here is a quick snapshot of our page and also of the insight data that is provided when you have a page (not provided in a group).
We joined YouTube’s nonprofit program, which allows you to have premium branding capabilities, increased uploading capacity, option to fundraise, listed on nonprofit channels and nonprofit videos page. Can add a call-to-action on videos Post a video opportunity on the video volunteers platform to find a skilled YouTube user to create a video for your cause. Currently, for The Arc video production is something we need to do, but in the meantime we’re getting familiar with the space. We mark favorite videos, become friends with viewers and watch what others are doing.
Contrary to belief – it’s ok to make mistakes – it’s a learning process. You will tweet or facebook something and find that there might have been a more effective way to do so. You will learn that you won’t build a strong community by asking for money all the time and not providing relevant information and resources in the process. You will learn that you have to think of this as a two way street and reach out and start conversations and focus on what others are saying instead of just speaking of yourself You will learn that negative comments happen and they will need to be addressed (sometimes) and you’ll learn the best way to address it.
Embracing Social Media Part 3
TWITTER, FACEBOOK, YOUTUBE, OH MY! How The Arc of the United States is learning to embrace social media
What Does @TheArcUS Tweet? <ul><li>Disability News </li></ul><ul><li>Chapter News </li></ul><ul><li>Serve as a Resource </li></ul><ul><li>Random Facts </li></ul><ul><li>Action Alerts </li></ul><ul><li>Timely Events </li></ul><ul><li>Retweet </li></ul><ul><li>Reply to People </li></ul>
Guidelines to Live By <ul><li>Be positive </li></ul><ul><li>Be open & honest </li></ul><ul><li>Listen & Acknowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Leave the wonk talk at home </li></ul><ul><li>“ What works at a Backyard BBQ works in social media” </li></ul>
Marathon Not a Sprint <ul><li>Learning process </li></ul><ul><li>Focus on building strong communities </li></ul>