It’s Friday morning and the first thing I did this morning was check Facebook and Twitter. Before it would be with the intention of catching up on what stupid things my friends would have gotten up to over night but now it is for a far more functional reason. We are organising a charity walk in my local community and I want to see if anyone signed up on Facebook, I wanted to see if anyone made a donation or if anyone needed a query answered. Social media's purpose has drastically changed from a space where chatting with friends who were abroad was seen as “groundbreaking” to a place where business can be conducted from bed.
Today’s generation of organizers and community activists don’t know how to operate without social media. We like things done fast, we like to be able to research who we are working with and we like to be able to showcase out results.
Depending on what activity your team is planning, it usually starts with an announcement on Facebook or Twitter. It means you are utilizing a following that already knows what you stand for.
Setting up an event on Facebook is relatively straightforward and as long as you have the dates, times and cost finalized, spreading your message should be easy. Creating a buzz around an event like a charity walk is easy as people love to help out with such events because there is a 'feel good' factor attached. Things become a little more difficult if you are organizing a feedback session for a local development. We find that people struggle to promote public consultation projects through social media because often times their messaging doesn’t translate well to these platforms. This is why having a point person is crucial here. You will need to advertise to the areas who will be directly affected ie: find your stakeholders. This is where Twitter works best, you can directly follow those who you think will be influenced by developments in the area even if they fail to see they will be involved initially.
Social media takes organizing to new realms when it comes to relaying information anytime, anywhere. Online engagement through social allows your community to engage at a time and place that suits them! It's super capacity to automatically recognize and adapt to provide an interface for mobile phones, tablets and PCs mean that everyone sees the same update or same event notice.
So, you are getting all this information out to your audience, how can you make sure they are hearing you?
One thing we love about social media is that a lot of them come with their own analytics so you can track the engagement and interaction from individuals, and if they don’t you can easily integrate with something like Google analytics. Capturing feedback from your consultation means you are going to need some kind of google analytics etc. Real time integrated reporting within social media with the capacity to capture all feedback and activity associated with an individual consultation, a selection of consultations or all consultations over various timeframes is now possible. Reports should incorporate the full range of participant activity on the including site visits, page views, individual document and video downloads, participant demographics, graphs and comments captured by surveys, mapper, submissions and quick polls and all comments captured via discussion forums.
Social media is a commitment, one we think is worthwhile when it comes to reaching out to stakeholders and helping organize so don't underestimate its value.
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