“Where do we start,” is the common question I get at workshops on social media for global networks. The struggle that many have is partially based on a technology gap, partially quick turnover of volunteer boards, and often too much fear of getting out of the comfort zone. This leaves much room for knowledge to be lost and information to get caught in transitions and never shared. In my workshop on PR tools at the BPW Europe Congress yesterday, the discussion was quickly diverted to what are the tools for, how to use them effectively, as they were all perceived as channels. The beautiful thing about the way things are evolving, social media tools are, in general, user friendly and free (non-profits love this). So here is one way to simplify the recommendation:
Firstly, with each of these tools there must be an account that is shared by the club to access and a record of which tools are being used. This will simplify the archive and tracing process during handover of new boards. This can be done by creating a free gmail account which forwards to those currently responsible.
Second we select the content to be shared. This does not always have to be created, as it may have already been created by others (interviews, photos from events, in the press, links to products, services, articles, blog posts,…). Write your commentary and questions in text format and save for insertion.
Third we send these through translation tools that will host the dynamic content and provide an embed code or link to it to insert when you broadcast.
Here are some examples of translate tools that I have found effective:
- Links: http://bit.ly Shorten urls so that they are easier to share.
- Presentations: slideshare.com Converts Powerpoint presentations and images and hosts them, providing a, embed code
- Documents: Adobe Acrobat, from Word download the conversion tool to make any doc a pdf
- Video and Music: YouTube.com Upload video to host on YouTube, can use the direct link or create an embed code
- Pictures: picasa.google.com Upload your images and create an album to share via link or embed
Fourth step is to take ownership of these tools and provide them context. You can do this through creating a press release uses the links and embeds to enrich the content. This can be broadcast through onlineprnews.com which with the free version will broadcast and the fee based will optimise it for search engines (determine which is best based on the importance of the reach and accuracy in targeting required for the particular message). Maintain a blog that can be linked to your homepage where your editorial, and content can be compiled and broadcast. Both Blogger and WordPress are free and easy to set up and use.
In between these lies the infamous twitter. Do not use your personal twitter, keep a separate account for the organisation for relevant, contextual only tweets. They can be managed separately using tools like tweetdeck. Tweetdeck will also enable you to shorten urls within it, so that you can share individually elements of the content (from content host links, above) or the full summary (press release or blog). This is important as you are limited to the 140 characters. You can also embed the twitter profile and tweets in a sidebar of the blog or website by using a badge. If you are new to twitter, keep in mind to stick with format of headline and link only. To avoid “ego” only tweets, refer to other links in context outside of organisation.
Next you have the channels which here is just to name a few. The key is to understand where your audience is interacting and have a presence there, whether it be in the form of a group, a fan page, a separate community or site. Here are some of the ones that I use and their different purposes:
- SOCIAL: Facebook is a great tool for social interactions that have extended and local reach. Just remember that the interaction is social, not professional, so unless it is of personal interest to the audience, it is not appropriate. As an organisation you can create a Fan Page that Facebook members can join to hear news, give feedback and share their appreciation of with their friends.(note: rule of thumb for connecting on Facebook, only do so if it is someone that you would ask how their family is, not just as a conversation starter, but because of genuine interest).
- PROFESSIONAL: LinkedIn is the best tool for professional referal and reputation management. Create a group to where you can have interactive dialog, update when there is new content or news of note or interest to others. (note: rule of thumb for linking on LinkedIn, only do so if you have an interaction or experience to base a referral on to ensure the integrity of your network. When you refuse, do so politely leaving the door open for when you have that interaction or experience).
- ~Xing is a hybrid of the social and professional that also encourages local communities to create face to face events. Most active in German speaking countries but does have global coverage.
- Homepage: Provide a space to announce your presence and link to them on your homepage so that your readers know to look for you there. Also be sure to provide the opportunity for your readers to share content via both RSS and tools they are using (try adding ShareThis). If you already have a community or blog, make sure to integrate the new content regularly).
- INTEREST: Ning is a free online community building tool that can be used for both professional and social purposes, depending on your need.
Lastly, but very importantly, once you get to your audience, you need to remember that it does not stop there. To be truly effective, monitor and measure who your reader is and their behavior. Google has two great tools for the monitoring (Google Alerts) and measurement (Google Analytics): I am currently evaluating some of the more indepth tools that are coming out onto the market for measurement. This is a critical step to understanding our effectiveness and continuing improvement. You can always ask them directly if you know your audience or embed a survey in one of your communications via SurveyMonkey.
As we all know these tools are constantly evolving and new ones come to market daily. The recommendations made in this posting are simply what I am using today. I welcome your thoughts on others to try.