Social Media

These days, we hear this term a lot. People are talking about Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and other popular sites on the internet.

But what is Social Media really? To be clear, Social Media is NOT Facebook, Twitter or Linked In. These are mainly tools that are optionally used to perform Social Media types of experiences. Each of these tools have particular purposes and some will interconnect with others. These tools will come and go with their popularity over time. Already, there are indications that Twitter is loosing favour among many people because it’s just too noisy. Many teenagers are now stopping use of Facebook because too many adults, parents and grandparents are using it to keep an eye on the kids. And there are many, many other tools for social media in existence.

To understand Social Media, you need to go back to consider previous forms of media.

Printing Press1 to manyFirst method of duplicating text and sharing with a large group of people. One way only
Telegraph1 to 1One way communication with the option of replying.
Telephone1 to 1True two way communication between two people.
Radio1 to manyOne way communication to the masses from a central studio
Television1 to manyOne way communication to the masses from a central studio.
Traditional Websites1 to manyOne way communication to the masses from a central website.
Web 2.0Many to manyWebsites with content for the masses with an easy way for two way communication where everyone can see all sides of the conversation.

Social Media is really about harnessing the ability of the web to allow for conversations to take place between many people at the same time. As such, it’s all about the content and how it can be shared and viewed. If a website has this ability built into it, it becomes a Social Media.

Building Social Media directly into the website brings huge advantages to the ability to users.

Using external tools such as Facebook is a poor substitute to a website that has the functionality built in. One of the obvious and immediate problems is that each and every user will need an account on each one of the various tool sites. Having worked with a lot of Rotarians, many have a problem remembering one login name and password let alone having many different logins to many different sites. And if they don’t, they could miss out on a lot of the conversations and information that is being shared.

In addition to having discussions on a subject the website needs to have an option to Share the link with other people that are interested. For example, if there is an article that someone finds extremely compelling, they can send the link to their friends and associates to have a look. As these people come to the site to view the page, the system can ask if they would like to register and keep getting e-mails as people add comments.

It use to be that you could measure a website’s effectiveness by the number of hits or page views. But a newer and better way is to measure how well the pages are shared with others. Those are articles that are shared are interesting and compelling enough to be shared will provide some insightful website statistics.

In addition, we are trying to recruit new members. Those people that have been invited to share a page view and sign up for more info could be future members. Those are the people that we want to occasionally pass on additional information about membership, local clubs and how to join.

That is, this becomes the gift that keeps on giving. By having a mailing list of people that have self subscribed to getting continued information about Rotary has to be one of the key considerations of the public side of the website. It’s part of our ongoing marketing plan.

When we advertise on the radio, on TV or in the newspaper, we get one view from the prospect and hope they take action from that. On the website, with Social media, ongoing conversations, mailing lists, etc., we get to make multiple impressions instead of just one.

So the bottom line is the website must have a Social media component. It’s the content that is important. It could include articles, videos, pictures, testimonials, etc. but it should primarily be on the Rotary website.

Then, other Social media tools such as Twitter, Facebook, Linked In could be used by the members so inclined to spread the word to their friends and contacts and supply links to the Rotary website to get them within our system rather than an external system.

We should not be planning to rely on these external tools as that will alienate a lot of Rotarians. One of the biggest problems I have heard people mention is all the various websites, login names and passwords they are expected to remember. When they are frustrated, it just doesn’t happen. Already there is a problem between the club websites, district website and RI website and how to log into each.