A Primer on Social Media for Nonprofits
Build a space on the Web for just your community: Make a private social network
When an organization wants to connect with its constituency in the context of a social network, a Facebook application, group or page is a great answer, right? After all, your people are likely already there.
But sometimes that isn't the whole story. In life and on the Web, people engage in different social realms, and the huge, very-public melting pot that Facebook represents isn't always a perfect fit if you are aiming to create an environment that is saturated with your group's unique character and whose functionality is specialized to your domain.
Luckily, you can solve this problem without developing your own Facebook from scratch; there are a number of great tools available to help you on your way.
The United States Naval Academy Alumni Association and Foundation found itself in exactly the situation described above and employed the User Networking Manager within Blackbaud's NetCommunity system to quickly and effectively build USNA Connect, a specialized social network for Naval Academy alumni, parents and friends.
Facebook still has its place in the organization in the form of a fan page with photos, videos and articles. But USNA Connect is a unique site that reflects the camaraderie of the Naval Academy and it features a host of functions that were specifically designed for its users.
What it takes
Specialized tools greatly simplify the task of building a private social network. The back-end database along with all the foundational pieces of functionality needed for a social network are already provided. These building blocks give your members the ability to create personal profiles, send messages, make friends, form subgroups and upload photos to their accounts. Users can also link their profiles to their Facebook accounts to allow easy picture sharing.