by Robin Bortner
Social media. The lingo changes faster than presidential approval ratings, and it seems that only those claiming the world is flat refuse to use them. They each herald a second coming of communication that promises to revolutionize the Internet.
And, like Galileo, some social networks actually make their promises come true.
As a volunteer club, tackling each new social fad is daunting. Facebook is a time-leech, Twitter is deceivingly complex, and successful blogs require a high techno-literacy level. That time and effort often feel wasted and could be better spent in service.
Optimize your time in the digital world … and optimize real-world results.
Prioritize your objectives
What are your social media goals? To attract new members? Share event photos with club members and friends? Advertise events?
Here are the best and worst uses of the most popular social media outlets:
- Facebook: Easy to use for scheduling events, uploading photos, connecting with members and nonmembers and providing your club’s mission and basic information. However, it’s difficult to customize or publish longer, comprehensive pieces showcasing your club’s work.
- Twitter: Establishes a constant community presence by sending frequent updates from in-the-moment events to followers. Also allows your club to voice its opinion on local and global events. It’s more difficult for followers to find club information (meeting times, contact info) or post comments or questions.
- Blogger/Wordpress: While harder to establish, the more creative design allows for longer, more in-depth coverage of Kiwanis events and members—including photos and written exposition. It’s easy to provide newspaper or other community media distributors with links back to your publications. Starting the page and accumulating followers will take longer than other platforms and requires a higher technological know-how.
- YouTube: Enables the powerful message of a well-edited video to reach a large audience. Updates can be less frequent, but can have a greater impact. Club information and logos can be embedded within the video to advertise your club. However, the time commitment for each piece is high—because YouTube requires knowledge of video creation and editing to be effective.
Play to your strengths
- Do: Choose a webmaster with experience. The member who spends the most time on Facebook should be able to create a club page and invite members and community members to club events. Have someone who tweets from his or her phone? Allow him or her to send updates from your pancake breakfast.
- Don’t: Spend large chunks of time learning a completely unfamiliar platform. Never made a YouTube video before? HTML code sound like Arabic? It’s always good to learn, especially from experienced members, but spending time discovering the ins and outs of a website might reap more frustration than reward. As with service, creating social media as a team will yield the best results.
Commit to the platform
- Do: Stick with a platform when you decide which one is right for you. Allow it to become a consistent voice for your club. The longer and more frequently you use social media, the larger the number of followers will receive your messages.
- Don’t: Abandon platforms or update irregularly. If your most recent Facebook update was last April, a nonmember visitor might believe your club is inactive or ineffective. Many potential members will scour the Web for your social media footprint; one good platform will look far more convincing than four or five unused ones.
Share what you’ve created
When you’ve created a good photo album or blog post, spread the word. Link it, like it, tweet it, blog it, post it, mail it, and share it!