First in a series on the fear some people in government, associations and nonprofits express when whey contemplate social media.
People exchange information and photos in all sorts of informal groups. You learn from friends and associates their preferences, likes and dislikes.
Social media is nothing more than an electronic form of a small group exchange only you do it with the world through the Internet.
Research clearly states that people are influenced by what’s said on social media sites; as much as they are influenced by exchanges with their peers and friends.
Social media is having a conversation; the audience gets to have their say. You put materials in a blog or website (an increasingly blurred distinction) and they react to what you post.
The goal is to create “things” that people really want. They want a video on how to do something. They want a funny or insightful article. They want an audio telling them about their interests that they can listen to at their leisure.
People are also looking for clarification regarding the issues of the day. They seek sites where there is clear authority and knowledge of the subject at hand. In their minds, no one has more authority than government, associations and nonprofits. You have golden opportunity.
Your job is to provide these materials and thoughts/observations in a way that no one else is doing for your target audience.
So what’s your payoff? Media respects those who do social media. They like your willingness to engage. They sometimes are willing to give you the benefit of doubt because you are obviously unafraid of the issues.
Associations and nonprofits get new members and donations. People support you because you provide a better understanding of issues. You get to influence a regional or national audience. You no longer have to depend on the media for outreach. You control your own destiny.
Why do social media? Because it accomplishes organizational objectives. It gets you and your organization where you need to go.
For those who desire a checklist as to what to do to orientate yourself, here are some “very” basic recommendations:
- Create a WordPress.Org-based blog/website. Spend money to have a web designer install a professional looking theme and skin. See http://mylifeaudio.com/telling-your-story-for-free/ for an overview of WordPress.
- Get help from your IT department, local college or community volunteer to create your social media presence.
- Post a minimum of three short articles, videos or audio messages a week that appeal to your audience.
- Create accounts with Facebook, Twitter and StumbleUpon (YouTube if you do video). Post updates often.
- Market your site to similar sites and exchange links. Google and other search engines send you traffic based on the number and quality of links you have.
Hopefully everything I just said helps put things into perspective
The next step is “doing” social media and folks, it’s not nearly as hard or as expensive as some people are trying to make it.
You can do this. You really can.