Recently, a number of volunteer opportunities have come my way Sell digital products regarding the use of Social media. In fact, I have become a lightning rod for requests to help establish a Social Media presence for several organizations I belong to and seek to help do well.
All these requests taken together have meaning. Everyone seems to be interested in the platforms and tools that Social Networking offers them to reach out to others in the online age. There is growing recognition that if you are not currently engaging the your membership and the general population on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and through E-mails, you are missing out on membership recruiting and retention and just plain “staying in touch” with your audience.
Eventually, I may have to say no to those asking me to set them up in Social Media and maintain their presence on the web. I just won’t have the time to give everyone the quality effort they expect and deserve – even from a volunteer. Presently, I am helping my town with Social Media as the Chairman of its Community Information Committee. In addition, I am handling the E-mail blasts for my Synagogue. And, I am also doing the Social Media for “Live from Freehold, “a hometown concert series; featuring a lineup of nationally known musical performers. If all of this is not enough, I also run a growing Facebook group with nearly 900 small businesspeople interested in learning about how they can market their services and wares to millions of potential customers on the Web.
For the record, all these volunteer efforts come very easy to me. I love what I do from 9-5 and still have a significant energy reserve to help people I care about make valuable use of web resources. It’s very rewarding knowing that I have helped these organizations accomplish their goals in ways they were not previously equipped to do before I got involved. It feels very good.
So, what are all of these groups looking for as they tip toe into uncharted waters (for them)?
1. Everyone wants to learn new ways to improve on older methods of outreach. Old habits die hard. Who wants to be left in the dust? These days there is such strong competition for attention that no one can afford to let competing interests gain the upper hand. If my Synagogue wishes to grow, the board of directors understands that they must keep the present membership constantly engaged in membership-value opportunities. In addition, they must also let potential members know what they may be missing by not considering joining our congregation. So, whenever we send out an E-mail blast to our members, we also share the blasts on Social Media. We hope that our members will do the same and enlarge our smaller reach throughout their own personal networks.
2. Few organizations have the finances to advertise and look to the web for help. Freehold Borough is a “hole in a donut town” completely surrounded by larger and wealthier with many more property ratable. As a result, property taxes in our town are higher than we would like. One way of curtailing property tax creep is to find alternate and less expensive ways to do things – including communicating with residents and prospective town visitors. Social Media is tailor made for small town communications. In fact, there are even a few proprietary Social Media Networks specifically designed for municipal outreach. To reach a wider audience, Facebook and Twitter are free services that do the job and allow people all over the world to know what is going on in a town even thousands of miles away. I have many Facebook friends, for example, living in England, Israel, France and Canada that think it is cool that I live and once served on the governing body of Bruce Springsteen’s “Hometown.” Many wish to visit here, when they vacation in the US. The web does the job for less – and often for free.
3. Organizations look to membership and friends for help to avoid consulting fees and oversight management. This is great news for students, interns, unemployed and retired people, who know about and enjoy engaging in Social Media. Where else can someone experiment with and learn Social Media, where performance standards and expected results are much less rigid than in the employment world? There may be no pay volunteering to offer your skills pro bono, but the rewards are significant. The ability to develop additional skills and experience is a boon to one’s chances for employment in Social Media. Let’s not also discount the emotional rewards you get from helping out. It feels good to be appreciated.