Thank you for the opportunity to share with your some of the ways that social media can be used to enhance communications within Rotary and to the wider public.
What is social media, for those not yet familiar with it? Social networking sites and applications provide tools for collaboration and rapid sharing of information all over the globe, which can include text, photos, videos, or links to other information. Social media is no longer a brand new technology – the first social media sites started up in the year 2000, and a number of those original sites are still around. Facebook was launched in 2004, LinkedIn in 2003, and Twitter has been around since 2006. These days, social media is as vital for communication as a mobile phone or email. In fact, if you wish to communicate with the younger generations, social media is THE main way to reach them, as they rarely use their email and consider it antiquated. Some universities have stopped distributing email accounts to students because they just don't use them anymore. It's quite a different way of communicating, and does require a different mindset to use it effectively. Rarely are conversations on social media 1 to 1. The younger generations are far more open and like to communicate in bigger groups. For the most part, social networking involves engaging in conversations with people you know - your own trusted networks – and with others whom you share an interest with. Talking with people rather than talking at them. All about building relationships rather than old fashioned “ marketing ” . No longer do you blast out information that is all about you. People increasingly want to contribute to discussions on all manner of topics, and to reach them, you need to be a part of those discussions. It is important to be engaging, and consider what it is that others want to hear, learn or discuss.
The relative ease of use of these tools means that it is easy for anyone to contribute content quickly – no programming skills are required. You are n o longer reliant on one person to upload information as is often the case with old static websites. As such, social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook are the best place to find the latest news, often before it hits the mainstream news channels. Because of this, journalists do keep an eye on Twitter in particular, so having a Rotary account on Twitter can be a good way to establish a connection with a local journalist. I no longer watch the news on TV or read a newspaper – if something important has happened, I will learn about it on Facebook, For example, at the beginning of 2011, we had terrible flooding in the state of Queensland in Australia. Rotaractors tweeted and used their Facebook statuses to spread news that the Rotary District in the state of Tasmania was getting donations made through them matched dollar for dollar through the local state government. I helped spread that news through my own accounts, including my business Twitter accounts, and through the Rotary pages that I admin. I also follow the Shelterbox Australia page, and saw the news that they were on the ground assessing the needs At our next club meeting after the floods, I was able to announce both these pieces of news, which no one else had heard. The real power of social media is in the sheer numbers of users who contribute and consume information daily on these networks. If Facebook were a country, it would be the 3 rd largest in the world, with over 833 million users, most of which log in daily. 50% of 18 – 34 year olds check Facebook first thing in the morning, and 28% of those do so before even getting out of bed. To take advantage of social media, you need to be where the action is. How beneficial would a billboard about Rotary be tucked away in the lobby of ONE Rotary Center? You need to get out to where people hang out: the main social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc. One of the things that I like best about social media is the fine grained control over what information you wish to consume and how you receive it. It comes to you rather than you having to go in search of it. And it doesn't have to take over your email inbox in the process, which is one of my pet hates with how communication within Rotary typically happens currently. But if you do like to receive email notifications, that can be done too.
The ability to have access to all your existing networks, be it family, friends, coworkers, classmates, Rotarians, or any other circle, in the one place, makes it easy to share Rotary authentically and as naturally as you would share any other day to day news, with whichever audience you choose. Not everyone feels comfortable talking about Rotary to their friends face-to-face, let alone inviting them to a Rotary meeting. Social media makes this much simpler. Brief mentions about some of the exciting and meaningful things you are a part of in Rotary, or sharing a quick photo, video or link to a webpage along with a brief message about why you are sharing it, opens the doors for others to ask questions about what Rotary is and how they can be a part of it too. It t akes the “ Humanity in Motion ” campaign a step further, where YOU are that real Rotarian, who makes a real difference in this world. At my last high school reunion, one of my classmates asked, What is this Rotary that you are always talking about on Facebook? Other high school and university classmates have picked up on events I have posted about, and have asked questions about the sorts of projects that Rotary does. Of course, it's not necessary to use your own profiles or accounts to talk about Rotary, though I personally feel these are the most powerful ways of spreading the news about Rotary because it comes from a trusted source. There are many options you can choose from when it comes to sharing Rotary news depending on your level of comfort, as public or as private as you like. It is possible to share Rotary news in relative anonymity from club or district accounts rather than your own personal one. The myriad of social media tools provides a buffet, where you can pick and choose what suits you best.
Social media doesn't just enable you to communicate easily with people you know – it also provides a variety of ways to meet and interact with other people that you have something in common with, such as other Rotarians. Meeting and collaborating with other members of the Rotary Family, be it for fellowship or to find project partners, is best done using discussion groups on LinkedIn and Facebook, or can be done via live chat, such as via Skype or Google Hangouts. Which platform to use depends on what the discussions are for. Shortly after last year's convention, a Rotarian posted a discussion topic in the Rotary group on LinkedIn that he had heard that RI was going to spend $900,000 to build its own social network. Hundreds of outraged comments followed, demanding to know what the rationale for this was. What need was there that this was going to fill that wasn't already able to be met by the existing major social networks? Some RI staff were monitoring the heated discussions, and agreed to a group of us setting up a survey to determine if there were in fact needs that were not being met, and based on that, to see what if anything RI could facilitate. One Rotarian volunteered to lead the effort, and moved the discussion from LinkedIn to his preferred medium: email, courtesy of a Yahoo Group. Only a very small percentage of those that moved across actually sent any emails, and everyone had their say, but didn't have an actual conversation. Another member of the group tried to bring all the points raised together into a series of documents, that he hosted on a different network that required yet another account to be created. Work ground to a halt. Email was not the best way for 20 Rotarians around the world to collaborate on building a survey, and we were in danger of not meeting our deadline. So I set up a closed Facebook group, where each topic had its own thread, discussions could take place in real time without emails being generated for every single reply as they are in LinkedIn, and documents could be created within that same Facebook group to keep a track of the questions that had been agreed on. Within 24 hours we had achieved more than we had in the previous 2 weeks, with instant feedback from RI staff. We did meet our deadline, and the survey went out. Another example of successful collaborations via social media is the Rotary Global Swimathon, coordinated by a Rotary Club in the UK. Contacts made with clubs via Facebook and Twitter in particular and regular promotion saw 5,244 swimmers from 104 clubs in 23 countries setting a new world record on February 23, raising over $100,000 for polio eradication in the process.
Sharing Rotary news via your own profile will reach non Rotarians, but a limited set To reach a wider audience, it is also important to promote Rotary news, causes, programs and events via dedicated pages or accounts, be it Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, SlideShare, or the like. Speak on behalf of the club or cause rather than as an individual Rotarian – ideally your club or district should have a social media strategy in place that aligns with your overall PR strategy. Share content that others will find interesting enough to then share through their own networks, to vastly increase your reach. Your own unique stories showcase how your club is making a difference. The content doesn't have to just be your own though . You can also share other related news, videos or images, such as successes of other clubs or particularly good presentations.
This has been a small selection of the many, many ways that Rotary's profile can been lifted, friendships created and projects brought to fruition thanks to social media. I hope that this has given you some food for thought about how you can make use of social media for your own Rotary fellowship and service. The Rotarians on Social Networks Fellowship is happy to provide free training and support to anyone who would like help, and I invite you to visit the Rotarians on Social Networks Fellowship booth #825 in the House of Friendship. I look forward to seeing many of you in the social media panel session later this morning. Thank you.
Social media keynote
Social Media Simone Carot CollinsRotarians on Social Networks Fellowship Training Chair
What is social networking? The use of dedicated websites & applications to interact with people you already know, or to connect with people with similar interests. Another avenue for building relationships
What is social networking? Rapid sharing of information worldwide Not reliant on one person to upload info People dont need to visit your site – the information comes in to their own feeds
Sharing with friends Your family, friends and acquaintances can learn just what it is that Rotary does Enables you to share your Rotary story authentically You choose how much or how little you share, and who you share it with
Interacting with the Rotary family Discussion groups for fellowship and planning Find project partners Source news for publications Real time meetings Keep in touch with alumni Real time news: events & disasters
Reaching out to the public Promote clubs, programs and projects via dedicated pages / channels / accounts Can follow events as they unfold in real time Rapid sharing of information during disasters
Want to learn more? Join me for the panel session after morning tea Stop by the Rotarians on Social Networks Fellowship booth (#825) in the House of Friendship