My BIS 280 Class Blog. Left up for reference, but not maintained.
This post is a little old, but I felt that it is important to republish, especially as I have transferred my material to a new site. The original post was made in December 2011 for my JRN 397a class at Central Michigan University. The class is over, but I remain a member of the social media staff for Michigan DeMolay.
For my final project, I decided to help create a better social media presence for an organization that I have worked closely with for many years, Michigan DeMolay. The organization, whose members consist of young men between the ages of 12-21, is a non-profit that aims to build better leaders and better men out of the members that come through. One of the big missed opportunities that they have had thus far are connecting the alumni and the active members, and then using that connection to their benefit.
My goal for working with them was to not only better their presence on social media, but to show them how using social media can help them accomplish their goals as an organization.
The first thing that I set out to help them do was to set up their Facebook account as a brand page. Prior to this project, they operated a Facebook page, but as a personal page, which presented a few areas for concern. Among those was the ability of Facebook to delete the account for violating the terms of service. I was able to convert the profile page to a user page, but at first the friends didn’t transfer. This was a major area of concern for me as the page had upwards of 2,000 friends. I was very thrilled, however, to find that all the friends were likes by the end of the day. This was a huge relief for me, and I am excited to see what this type of page can do for us.
One major area for improvement for this organization is their Twitter page. The organizations Twitter page has not been active in well over a year. While, at one point, the Twitter was extremely active, and a great place for the organization to spread its message, it has since been irrelevant. I have begun working with the organization to regain control of the Twitter. This is preferable, however, if this is not possible, they will begin to implement a new Twitter profile.
One page that I set up for the organization was a Google+ page. While not many people are on Google+ at this point in time, I expect that, in time, Google+ will begin to take off. I did run into a few problems with Google+, however. One of the big problems I ran into was that you cannot connect with people without them adding you to a circle first. Being a small, non-profit organization, there are many people (mainly members and advisors) who are members and would probably like to connect with Michigan DeMolay on Google+, but without them adding the page first, we are at an roadblock. Another problem that we have run into is that Google+ currently only allows for one administrator on each page. Having been the one to set up, I am the only one update the page, which is difficult as I am not as connected with the organization as I once was. However, from what Mashable tells me, Google+ will allow for multiple administrators by years end. The last of the major problems that I ran into was that there is currently no way to update a brand page using the mobile application. With working 40+ hours per week, and having 12 credits in school, much of my updates on my own social media sites are from mobile applications. It would also be helpful if Google+ were available on Hootsuite, however that is still in beta testing.
A second social network that I set up for this organization was foursquare. There was a very big opportunity using foursquare that I felt could help the organization. What I did with foursquare was create a brand page and leave tips at different places. The locations where I left tips were Masonic Temples, which is where each individual chapter meets. My tips stated when the chapters met. I also created a list of all of these Masonic temples and the tips I added. One problem with this was when the certain chapter’s meeting places were not on foursquare. I have a plan to go to each of these places so that I can add them to foursquare’s list.
The final social media presence that I created for Michigan DeMolay is a company page as well as a group on LinkedIn. One of the biggest assets of any fraternal organization is the built in networking among people. Generally people who are connected with a fraternity will give others connected to the same a leg up. Using a professional social networking site, such as LinkedIn, helps to make this easier. Connecting people on LinkedIn will allow Michigan DeMolay a few opportunities that other sites cannot. Mainly, it gives those people who work in a position where they are able to hire employees, the chance to promote a job opportunity in their group first. This is one of the goals of Michigan DeMolay’s social networking: assist the members, both active and senior, even outside of the organization.
During this project, I ran into quite a few problems. One issue that I ran into was that when working with a volunteer organization, getting stuff done quickly is difficult. When people volunteer for an organization, their work there generally takes a backseat to other priorities in their life. Another problem I faced was some of the organization’s policies. Being a youth organization, there were very strict policies set forth concerning the privacy of the members. A status update could not contain the members last name, pictures cannot be updated by the organizations page unless they, and their parents, have signed a release form. The privacy issues of it’s youth members is a big concern of the organization, and working around that was a difficult task.
One major concern of mine came in relation to the Michigan DeMolay Twitter Account. The account, which up until about 1 year ago, was extremely active. It promoted events and pushed relevant information to its followers. But it has since been lost, and the organization is unable to find the current owner of the account. I have been working to resolve this, and while it has not yet happened, I believe that I am on my way to resolving this issue, and hopefully we can prevent it from happening again.
Michigan DeMolay has the mission statement of “Building Tommorow’s Leaders Today”. Their philosophy with social media is to continue this ideology and to help support the organization. The organization hopes that social media will accomplish a few things for them. First, they hope that it will allow them to better promote their events. As kids today spend most of their time online, and on Facebook in particular, it would seem like the best place to promote an event would be on Facebook. They have used Facebook events in the past, and continue to use them, but using them more effectively is something they are working on. They also hope that social media will allow for better communication. One major secret to success of any organization is communication. With email slowly working its way out as a mainstream communication tool, and the postal service way gone, everyone, including Michigan DeMolay, is struggling to find ways to better communicate. Social media will give them that opportunity. Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ will allow them to communicate with their most active members, LinkedIn will allow them to communicate with a large portion of their alumni. The biggest thing that they have to remember when communicating with their audience is that most of them are still youth. They, and myself in particular, must remember that while it is important to get the youth excited, it is equally important to make sure that their parents are aware of what is going on.
One of the advantages I have is that even after this semester is over, I intend to work closely with Michigan DeMolay, specifically with regards to their social media devices. The youth leadership of Michigan DeMolay changes every August, and I intend to be working with those young men, as well as the advisors, to help the organization thrive.
Since the original post, Facebook has updated their brand pages to incorporate the new Timeline format. Michigan DeMolay has changed its page to accommodate the change. This new format provides Michigan DeMolay with many opportunities. Among them, it gives us an opportunity to tell the history of the organization as well as to highlight some of the key moments in our history. The full potential that the new format offers has yet to be fully utilized, but I am confident that it will help us to better promote our organization.