Social Media as an Outreach Tool

There’s been a lot of talk over the last couple of years about how we, as professionals, have to get on the social media bandwagon. MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, blogging—all of these new tools are being touted as the next great, indispensible thing for non-profits. The problem is figuring out how to harness the power of these tools in a way that’s not only high-tech and glitzy, but that also helps you further the mission of your agency.

It’s great to be on the cutting edge, and to be the first to delve into new technology. But I’ve found that technology purely for technology’s sake is, well, counterproductive. That’s why I was so hesitant to jump into things like Facebook and Twitter (TeenNow California now has both a Facebook page and a Twitter account). I wasn’t really sure just how useful they would be, and knew that keeping the information fresh and up-to-date would be a real drain on our time. I’ve seen other agencies, members and colleagues use social media in creative ways. One agency created a virtual clinic where teens who used a certain virtual world program could go to get information about reproductive health and contraception. Other agencies have MySpace or Facebook pages that help disseminate important information about health and their programs. Still, until recently I wasn’t convinced that our main audience—professionals—would be interested in getting Tweets or visiting us on Facebook.

I’ve been participating recently in trainings and webinars geared toward harnessing social media to improve your visibility and outreach, and I’ve become very intrigued. We’ll have to see how this new blog, and our Facebook and Twitter accounts, really do impact the work we do. And, I’ll be looking into new and more effective ways to use social media to further our mission and get information out to members and the general public. If you have any ideas or want to share your stories of using social media, I’d love to hear them and maybe even publish them on this blog. Send me an e-mail at tnca@teennowcalifornia.org.

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2 thoughts on “Social Media as an Outreach Tool

  1. Getting some mileage out of social media tools is a matter of setting your sights on the goals you plan to achieve and how best to craft the messages you’re spreading. FB and Twitter are incredibly effective tools in keeping you and your organization at the top of the minds of those professionals whose attentions you want to engage, without forcing the engagement — you’ll know you’ve engaged them when they begin to participate in this little social experiment with you in growing numbers. (One suggestion would be to pose some sort of ambiguous question to elicit comments from blog readers. Even a poll might do; you can find free poll software for blogs at polldaddy.com. Let me know if you’d like any more suggestions, of course…)

    Good luck! I’m definitely not your target audience, but what I’ve read is already intriguing and you have my attention.

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