Like the shift in communications the telephone brought, social media technologies represent a whole new age in communications. While a static website was at one time sufficient now there is an expectation that we will increasingly be online engaged in sharing, caring, commenting, friending, following, digging, giving, texting, tweeting and so on. What does this mean for a coalition or organization intent on doing good in the community? Where to enter the fray? How to be present?
While you could dive in without giving your coalition's identity much thought - at some point you'll need this step. I think a lot of us get started in social media with a specific tool like Facebook or Twitter and actually back door into developing an identity - partly because we don't know the details up front of what kind of information will be required ... which leads us to thinking about developing our presence. More than an logo, icon and tag line, Presence is about who you are, what you do and how your are viewed by the community both online and offline.
Start with a paper napkin and a marker. Finish this sentence ...
When you talk with community members about your coalition, do you actually spout out your formal mission statement? Not likely. What is helpful and more engaging is to come up with a brief description from the heart rather than from the head (we'll get to the head work later). We often talk about this kind of description as our elevator speech - that 30 second opportunity in an elevator with your Congressional Representative. Or you might try to get your description down to a 140 character tweet (great coalition meeting activity). Regardless of how, make sure what you come up with is conversational, informal and heartfelt.
Developing your Presence using technology in prevention is made easier when you do a social media communications audit (doc). Sounds hard but it doesn't have to be. The audit puts your social media communications into the larger context of your coalition or organization. Like always there will be places where you shine and places that need some work - discovering and bridging the gaps that are important to you will advance and establish the kind of presence you want.
Give the audit a try and let me know how it works (or perhaps doesn't) for you purposes. Where does it fit? What's missing that feels important?