Social Media for Sisterhoods
Social media can be a powerful tool to engage members and potential members. When thinking about why and how to use any communication tool, we should always remember that we have two audiences-those who know us, and those who need a reason to want to know us.
This process is nothing new. In 1913, the initial NFTS board created a "Propaganda Committee" (which now would be call PR). This is a continuation of that effort. Hopefully we can become as successful in spreading our message and mission as they were back then. What we need to do is engage our members and entice potential members to join. As we do at Passover, we have to repeat regularly what our purpose is. We need to provide reasons to be passionate about our organization and projects.
So Why Social Media?
- is popular- really, really popular
- reaches all ages and demographic
- helps to get the word out and share a lot about your Sisterhood and what it does
- has active user
- encourages two-way communication
- can create communities of interest
- and for the most part-- is free
Your Social Media Toolbox
There are a number of social media tools that can help you accomplish your goals.
Facebook connects you with friends and friends of friends. It has a strong graphic appeal-you can see photos, videos, albums; review past events, and you have the ability to participate in "conversations" Women especially like Facebook, visiting it a few times a day. It gives you the ability to share with many people at once. It's entertaining, providing the opportunity to share the absurd or things that are endearing or meaningful. It's opportunistic, letting us learn about ways to help others, getting updates, and receiving support from your network. It's newsy, keeping us up-to-date with news, causes, and friends. And you want to be sure that your Facebook site links back to your Sisterhood webpages, and other social media channels.
Twitter started as a microblogging site and has grown to be one of the most widely-used tools for marketing and communication for businesses, nonprofits and individuals. Once you (or your sisterhood) set up a Twitter account, you can send out 'tweets' of 140 characters or less. Tweets can include text, images and/or links to content on the web including videos. These tweets are visible to anyone on Twitter. In order to make sense of the enormous "twitterverse", you can follow other Twitter accounts such as those of your temple, other sisterhoods, WRJ, local businesses, news sources, etc. Once you become a follower, you will automatically be able to see all of the tweets coming from the sources you follow. In turn, anyone following you will see all of your tweets. If you are interested in seeing tweets from numerous sources on a particular topic, you can use a hash tag to search for information. For example, if you are interested in seeing tweets about Women of the Wall, you can search on #womenofthewall and you will see the information. If you see something especially interesting coming from one of the sources you are following or hash tags you search on, you can "re-tweet" it and post it to your followers. Some things you might want to tweet or re-tweet about include events, awards, social action projects, or photos of sisterhood activities. Your twitter account can be connected to your Facebook page, blog or website, so your tweets and re-tweets can be automatically posted there as well.
Google Plus is Google's foray into social networking. The idea is to make online socializing more like socializing in real life by having users arrange contacts into "circles". You might have a circle for your sisterhood board, another for members, and yet another for the whole congregation. Users can post as on Facebook as well as link their Google Plus activities to other Google tools such as Search and Hangouts.
Pinterest is really visual and fun. Pinterest engages the mind, imagination and provides inspiration. It's very visual-in fact you need an image or video to load or re-pin to your Pinterest page. You create "boards" and pin to them. TBE Sisterhood now has a number of boards-Purim, Passover, Hanukkah, Challah, Knitting, Recipes (we are selling a cookbook), Spring Flowers (we sell bulbs), Baby Knitting, and more. It's fun to create and easy to reach audiences of all ages with things you find to pin to your boards. Each of the pictures you pin has a web connection, so be sure to load lots of your own pictures to the site and provide the url for your website or pages.
Instagram is a photo sharing and storage tool that is quickly gaining popularity, especially with younger women. Instagram is primarily for mobile devices, although it is possible to view photos via the Instagram website. Like Pinterest and Twitter, Instagram can be linked to Facebook and other social media tools. With Instagram you can post sisterhood photos, include information about when, where and of whom each photo was taken, use filters to improve the appearance of photos taken on mobile devices, connect with younger members, learn about members' interests and activities, "follow" other Sisterhoods and create an accessible archive of your photos.
You can create and support a blog for free, or for $100 or less a year, you can have a blog with its own "url" and hosting account, and with the freedom to ask for donations run a fundraiser, sell your own advertising space (or not) rather than live with general "ad and link" clutter of the free option. With blogs, the emphasis on content. Not just short, user-generated chatty content, but the production of content that is an alternative to traditional print media AND that can benefit from interlinked conversation and comments. A blog gives you the space to create stories, provide in-depth information, and answer questions. Blogs also give you space to provide some static information. Like a list of your leadership team, a calendar or programs and events. You should create entries for your blog at least monthly, but more often - like weekly - is much preferred. The stories show up chronologically and get archived by month. However past stories are searchable by word or category.
It's just one step away from the blog to the website. Once you start creating static content, you effectively have a website. So why not create both at the same time? Using a tool like Wordpress, which is a great option for your blog, you can also create those static (or static for the year or until you change it) pages that you want for a site. So now you have a combination of pages that tell what your sisterhood is, what is on the calendar for the year, who is in charge of what committee, Fundraising activities, Social Action projects and more as well as creating a buzz and conversation on issues that come up or projects that need help.
Many sisterhoods produce newsletters to keep their members informed. There are tools out there to make your newsletter even more useful to your membership. Producing and distributing your newsletter online can facilitateregular communication, save money, and allow you to create an automatic archive. There are tools that will enable you to make your publication more powerful by allowing you to attach documents (forms), link to other sites, provide email links, include images and video, and manage mailing lists. Producing an electronic newsletter can be as simple as creating your content in a word processing program and emailing it to your membership. The cost for this method is low, but there is a fair amount of work that needs to go into formatting and list-management. Using a tool like Constant Contact can make design, distribution, and tracking easier, but there is a cost. In recent years, competitors such as Robly and Mail Chimp have come on the scene. Each of these tools provides a different combination of services at a different price point (Mail Chimp is free).
Your Social Media Strategy
When considering how your sisterhood can use social media, it's important to have a strategy. Experienced users of social media recommend these four steps to get started:
- Clarify your goal(s). Do you want to ...attract new members? ...communicate with current members? ...refine your image? ...reach out to other organizations? ...get better feedback?
- Look at what your members are doing already. Are they online? On Facebook? Using mobile devices?
- Start small. Choose just one or two tools at first.
- Assign the task. Choose a person to be in charge of using social media on behalf of your sisterhood. That way your online presence will be consistent and you can ensure that your sisterhood is posting regularly enough to be worth following or friending.
Social media cannot replace more traditional forms of communication, but it can be a powerful asset if used wisely.
Questions? Need help getting started?
Click here for a list of links with explanations and instructions for all of the tools listed above.
You can also consult our WRJ Central District Social Media Guru, Hillary Handwerger, firstname.lastname@example.org
-Hillary Handwerger, District Webmaster
and Patty Rehfus, District Bulletin Editor