The Importance of Being Social

People having a picnic by the canal

You can’t replace real life interactions, but what role can social media play?

In an age of ‘selfies’ and over sharing, it might be difficult to imagine the role Social Media has to play in community projects. Why does a physical community group need a Facebook presence? What could a community development project possibly have to tweet about? It’s not really as if we can consistently share pictures of our food (though some of the volunteer’s packed lunches do look very good!)

However, after setting up a Facebook page and Twitter account for The Conservation Volunteers Berkshire a couple of years ago, I am taking a little time out from my extended maternity leave to help them maintain and, hopefully, expand their social media presence.

So for projects who’s key purpose is genuine face to face interactions and physical joining in, what role can the rather faceless world of social media play? Firstly, it keeps us connected. The volunteers receive a weekly email (delivered through Mail Chimp) about upcoming tasks and other news, but Social Media helps us also provide updates in ‘real time’, in a quick and accessible format. Rather than people having to wait until the next email, they can also connect with us, though, for example, their smartphones, anytime they choose. We can also use Social Media to feedback thanks and photos of tasks people have been involved in, hopefully making them feel connected and involved in the projects. It can help give us a collective sense of identify

We also use it to connect to wider audience – partner organisations, other interested parties and the wider community. Recently, by using a local hashtag (#rdguk) some work the volunteers had done at the local community sports stadium was widely retweeted by a plethora of community members, private companies, local politicians, generating much feedback and thanks. Giving the volunteers’ work the status it well deserves. Social Media can quickly share what we have been doing far and wide, helping us raise the profile of ourselves and our funders.

I am currently exploring other ways we can use Social and traditional medias to raise our profile and continue to outreach to a wider audience. What experience have you had of using these tools? What other Social Media platforms have you used? I would be really interested to hear your views of using Social Media in the context of community development work please. Over to you…

*As always the view expressed on this blog are my own and not those of any other organisation.

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