Social media is not a new concept in the working world– it is used for sales purposes, for marketing, for branding, and, of course, for personal use. So, is there a way to use social media for member engagement, and help an organization come together and thrive? You don’t need to have a product to push to find social media beneficial – there are several ways organizations of all sizes and purpose can really create connection.
One of the biggest benefits of social media is increased organizational knowledge and awareness.
A social media platform is a sort of social statement about who a group is, what they stand for, and who is involved. It is also a great way to centralize all the crucial information and key communications members. A Facebook organization page might have an address, phone number, and hours for a physical location, as well as the names of board members or staff. It might list the guiding principles of the group, have pictures of past events, and list future events as well. Social media often works in place of or as a supplement to a website – because it is much more interactive than a website, it tends to serve some better. Facebook and Twitter allow you to “tag” people who are part of the social media networks and say they attended your events, thank them for attending, invite them to a gathering, or give them props for their contributions. These touches can make a huge difference in helping your organization feel and stay connected when it comes to social media for member engagement.
While social media certainly works to serve an active, established group, one of the greatest strengths of social media is that it can attract new members.
A healthy, active group that asks and answers questions and engages in conversations with each other through Tweets or Facebook postings will look interesting to outsiders. It shows that there is a dynamic community and that there is something worth talking about within the group. If several members have asked when the next meeting is or have all commented on a picture from an event, it seems like there is a tight group of individuals who are invested in the goings-on of the group.
Relatedly, social media allows you to build relationships with members.
While emails might share information in a one-way format, Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites bring about real digital relationships. They allow you to have conversations in real-time, by either sitting at your computer or having a social media app installed on your phone that you have right in your pocket. If someone has a question or a comment, it can be addressed right away.
Social media is also a great tool for publicity or general marketing, allowing for the promotion of a cause.
Social media allows you to share anything, in any format. You can show members and any new, potentially interested parties, new promotional materials by uploading pictures that are featured right on the home page of the social network. You can share links to donor pages. You can feature webpages that are affiliated with the cause, creating a larger community.
Because of the intensified effect of information reaching more people and from a more unified location, more people are mobilized to act.
Members become more engaged and their capacity and desire to get further involved increases. It might start with adding their thoughts or questions to a conversation by sending a tweet reply or adding a comment to a Facebook wall, but then branch out to reaching out to their personal friends through social media - if they are able to share all information through the one centralized social media site, it becomes much easier and user-friendly to participate in any kind of action for a cause. A decentralized and disorganized group can be harder for members to work with, and often discouraging when it comes to raising support, rallying for a cause, and generally being engaged.
Social media for member engagement has a real, distinct purpose and reason with many different ways that an organization can use it and have it play out with their particular group. It offers communication, connection, and a way to promote causes, all with existing social networking tools.