Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Getting Your Feet Wet

MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn: there are so many different social networking sites that serve so many different audiences, and sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. Here are three simple things to keep in mind when you decide to tackle the social networking beast…

Set Your Goals: Why does your organization want/need to be on a social networking site? This is important. Developing a presence on a social networking site can take hours for a single staff person to build and maintain, so knowing what your goals are ahead of time is key. You can use a social networking presence as part of your overall public awareness strategy, advocacy plan, or fundraising campaign. You can also use it to communicate with the target populations you serve. Knowing what you hope to accomplish first will help you decide which site to start with and how to begin crafting your presence.

Take Your Time: Do not try to develop a presence on every single social networking site out there. There are way too many for that! You’ll never be able to successfully maintain them all. Find the one site that is the best fit for your organization and grow your community there. Many social networking sites allow users to socialize with the people and the organizations that share the same goals and beliefs as you and your organization. Don’t worry if you don’t have 1000 contacts in the first month; building a network takes time, patience, and persistence. This means that you will have to actively recruit users! Then, after you get a grip on one site, consider creating a profile on additional sites.

Evaluate: Treat your social networking site like an extension of your organization’s website. Once it’s developed, it’s out there for the entire network of users to view. After people have access, evaluate whether or not it is meeting its purpose. How can it be improved? There is always room for improvement in every aspect of your public awareness strategy; your social networking presence is no different. You need to constantly think of new ways to keep your presence fresh and exciting, and ways you can incorporate it into other public awareness activities.

Taking the leap into social networking can be fun, and if you’re anything like me, it’s also an important part of your daily activities. Think of your networking presence as an office plant. It has be watered, nurtured, and spoken to regularly for it to stay alive.

Remember that when you’re tired of all the tweets and status updates, these sites provide our organizations FREE access to millions of people throughout the world – and with networks of over 300 million active users, it’s a world that we can‘t afford to ignore.

by: Zenica Chatman, Public Awareness Associate, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy
Contact Zenica:

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