How to leverage social media in community programs
May 30, 2012
Rebecca Reyes, Communications Manager
Using social media in community programs can be a low cost alternative to help recruit participants and spread the word about your success. Even if you have a personal profile on some social media sites, you'll need to spend some time thinking about how to use these pages for your program. Here are some tips to help you leverage social media in your project:
Have a clear goal. To maximize your chances for success, be clear about what you want to do. Your goals could be to build interest, share information, or let people know about upcoming events.
Realize that there will be a time commitment involved. One of the appeals for using social media is that it's free. The service is free, but your time isn't. Even if it's just a half an hour a week, it still needs to be worked into your schedule.
Go where your audience is. First, decide who you are trying to reach. Your page will be more successful if it's focused. Asking is the best way to find out where your demographic spends their time online. You could put a survey in your next email, or ask at your next meeting. If you are primarily trying to reach youth, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or texting might be the way to go. If you're looking to reach older adults, you might want to consider Facebook, blogs, or LinkedIn.
Start with only one page. Learning the ins and outs of each social media page takes time, and starting more than one might spread your efforts too thin. If you've had a presence on one page for a while, take a step back and think about why it is or isn't successful to build on your strengths.
Promote it. No matter how much time and effort you put into designing your page and producing content, it will gather dust if you don't tell people about it. Put a prominent link on your website and e-newsletter. Put logos and your URL on flyers or handouts. Mention it at every meeting. Tell people to spread the word.
Listen to your fans/followers. Social media is interactive. If you're not getting any responses on your Facebook page, ask them what they'd like to hear. Reply to fan posts when appropriate. Take note in meetings of things that would be interesting to share online. Once you get a good following, experiment with different types of posts to see what your fans like to hear about.
Looking for more? Click here to learn more about how to stay with connected with participants and the community, and to see how other community programs have used social media.
Tell us your story now!