Next week is the big 2010 Alliance for Community Media conference and people from access centers all over the country will be converging on Pittsburgh to network with one another and discuss community media, PEG TV and all the possibilities the future affords. Attendees will be able to choose from six different tracks this year including:
- Citizen Journalism & Social Media
- Community Media Center Management, HR & Board Development
- Fundraising & Collaborations
- Engineering, Broadband, Network management & Related Issues
- Media & Telecom Policy
- Community Engagement, Training & Marketing/Outreach
Our good friend Colin Rhinesmith from CCTV in Cambridge Massachusetts has been charged with leading the Citizen Journalism and Social Media track and I was lucky enough to have been asked to present on the “Using Social Media to Serve the PEG Community and NonProfit Organizations” panel on July 9th. I will be joining Colin, Lee Webster the iYouth Director at channelAustin and Jason Daniels the Executive Director at ECAT in North Easton, MA to discuss the way our centers utilize social networking to inform our communities and strengthen our alliances with NonProfit Organizations.
We were each asked to develop a short presentation on how our own social media strategies have proven to be successful. I have chosen to focus on how VCAM has used social networking in an attempt to build an online identity that is faithful to the values and spirit in our mission. The following are some of the bullet points that I have started putting together for the panel discussion:
Social networking is sharing culture:
- Social media, unlike the “dreaded” newsletter, we don’t have to think of everything to share with our audience.
- We frequently share news items (blog posts, tweets, photos, video – any content shared via social networking) from sources that aren’t directly related to our organization but are related to the spirit and values of our mission. Net neutrality, rural broadband, copyright and creative commons, media access, fair use, free speech etc.
- It is all part of illustrating a larger context and sharing the greater culture around our organization.
- Sharing is key: The power of the retweet or “share” functions: sharing content that originated outside oour center (news from a partner nonprofit org partner for example) = speed skating relay (i.e. teamwork, partnerships)
- By sharing information that others in our social media network have created, we are helping push information further and to more people than the originator of the content could do alone.
- Not only are we indicating to our own network of followers that we value the information we are retweeting, we’re also telling the creator of the content that we appreciate what they have to offer and are willing to help their cause.
- Why do nonprofits come to VCAM? A fundamental principle of ours: We’re here to help others get important information out to their community. Social media is an extension of that commitment.
Strategy around content created by our staff:
- We try to distribute all of our own news throughout our network, link to blog posts and newsletter (constant contact) via Twitter and Facebook, Tweet “round-ups” on the blog etc.
- Redundancy is OK in fact has proven quite useful for us.
- If we shoot a short PSA we’re going to put it on our channel, upload it to blip.tv & YouTube > embed the video in our blog > link to the blog post via Twitter > and share a link to the blogpost on our FB wall.
- Cast a wide net.
Direct benefits of developing our network:
- It has enabled us to offer more effective social media workshops to our nonprofit partners.
- More and more people are listing our social media network as how they heard about our organization and/or know about our workshops.
- Through discussions with many of our members we are noticing a growing familiarity with the larger context of community media (i.e. legislation and policy, challenges associated with evolving technology in relation to our funding structure, why advocacy is essential etc.) and many people have credited our Facebook page and Twitter feed for keeping up to date with important issues facing PEG.
- These are things that have worked for VCAM and every center is different..so listen to your community, find out what tools they are using and shape your social media strategy around where they are interacting.
- When developing your social media network remember the phrase “Redundancy is a plus….consistency is a must”
- Lastly, for those folks just starting to develop their social media network and online identity: There are thousands of social media experts out there – feel free to ignore them all. (Just have fun with it)
I hope to update this blog post as the list develops……
Note: Post was updated on 7/9/10 in preperation for panel discussion.