A New Way to Do Old Business
A key to social-networking sites is just being present on them and listening to the conversations going on there. Organizations can search Google news, blogs (Technorati) and social sites like Twitter to find and join conversations related to their causes.
Twitter is all about conversation and getting people to feel like they're a part of something bigger. NWF tweets new blog entries, random facts, breaking news, program information and timely events, and retweets posts related to its cause, using its Twitter followers as a mini-focus group.
Organizations can become educational resources on Twitter, keeping in mind the need for authenticity over institutional-speak. This later point tops the list of Brigida's tips for organizations when getting involved in social networks:
- Have an authentic message.
- Go where you constituents are.
- Respect them. Don't be an ad. Allow constituents to have a relationship with you.
- Know they are connected to a whole network of people.
- Involve their friends.
- Combine old and new techniques. For example, a press release can be repurposed into a blog post and then shortened to 140 characters and put on Twitter.
Brigida recommended picking social-networking sites that involve something you like doing or sites that will make your life easier. Empower staff members who are on these sites already on their own. If you're worried about the lines between their personal lives and work lives blurring too much, add social-networking guidelines to your computer-use policy.
One thing's for sure, you should know what you want out of a site before you join and put the time into developing a presence there. Look at what like organizations are doing and see if there's a niche that you can fill.