This week I am focussing on the concept of ‘social media presence‘ and the whole strategy of using social media to promote and support online Toastmaster clubs! There’s more to this than I thought – and I wanted to share some of my new thoughts on how to persuade you to consider a better social media presence for your online club.
I am no expert on the matter of social media, however, I do know what works well and who to ask for help when it does not. I have a few Toastmaster friends on whom I rely for up-to-date information and learning about best practice in Facebook, YouTube, Blogs and Twitter. These are the ‘big four’ for me right now in my social media world, therefore, I will use some practical examples from these in my post this week.
Warning: Frequent Links in this post.
Let me begin with some helpful advice from David F. Carr, a Toastmaster member of Club Awesome, writer, editor, and web consultant. David is also the author of ‘Social Collaboration for Dummies‘ and is the developer of WordPress for Toastmasters.
David was my guest presenter for some online training for online Toastmasters last week and he graciously and expertly provided advice on a myriad of criteria to consider for an improved social media presence for online clubs. His timely wisdom will set the scene for this week’s post by highlighting the Elements of An Online Strategy. Yes you do need a Strategy!
You can find out more about David’s strategy by viewing his video called Toastmasters Social Media Outreach Tactics.
Ideas from Research on Social Media Strategy
I agree with David’s first strategy – a strong website content, current and updated frequently. He advocates the use of WordPress as a website for bricks and mortar clubs, and some of the online clubs in formation are also considering that as their ‘base camp’.
Others are using an easy-Speak site as ‘base camp’ and it does have some fine attributes for Club Management – however, you may find the need for other sites to engage socially.
Perhaps the development of your Facebook Group or Page is the first step into social media that you take in your journey to build an online club. In my opinion a wise move – because that is where you will find the bulk of the ‘traffic’ – an easy way to capture a large percentage of your Expressions of Interest (EOIs).
You may also make the best use of your District Newsletters Online and their Facebook social media presence. Leveraging from one to the other is also a smart move.
Twitter may be a preferred tool for getting the message out to a wider range of Toastmasters. This would be useful during your building of EOIs phase! Best Practice advises us to use #Toastmasters in our Tweets to ensure that they will be sent on (retweeted) to other Toastmasters in the Twitter Sphere.
Social Media Practice
Learning from experience is also a sound strategy, here’s how the latest batch of Online Clubs in Formation are using their Social Media Presence to advantage. Note: Susan Ellsworth, Kim Hahn, Svetlana Rakhimova and Julie Kertesz (team leaders of this batch) are from the Firebirds Collective Online Club. I am providing some ementoring for them.
- Watch how the Toastmasters Without Borders is building its EOIs in their Facebook group and shepherding them over to their easy-Speak website. Kim and her team have also made use of the D73 Newsletter and posted an article recently called Toastmasters Without Borders – No Box Needed! These are strong methods of showcasing the personality of the club.
- Take a look at the way the EOIs are shaping up for the Great White North Online Toastmasters right now. Susan, is stewarding this group and building a community of likely Toastmasters who will join this club, soon to be in formation. Pay particular attention to Susan’s technique of welcoming new members of the group. Susan now sends a PM to Welcome new members. She has a consistent approach to community building, she ‘listens’ to what the members have to say. Susan also moderates the Online Toastmasters public Group in Facebook which now has over 1280 members.
- What about a quick trip over to Witty Storytellers who are gathering their EOIs in their Facebook Page.They are attracting another group of Toastmasters who are looking for a specialty club and leveraging their attraction from the postings of their leaders. Julie is marketing this club with strategies that work and smartly using her recent Toastmaster articles, YouTube video and blog posts. Svetlana is gathering her club officers right up front with links to ‘how to be an officer’ videos.
Note: there are currently two new online clubs in formation that have sent in paperwork to WHQ and most likely two or three others close on their heels. You will find these listed in District U in Daily Reports. Look for those listed in Division V, Area 1. This list currently includes the Toastmasters Without Borders.
Social Media Content
I will refer back to another of David’s strategies – make web content easy to share on social media. Be smart about the link backs from your website(s) to your social media and make it easy for your followers to Like, Share and network. Do have a mix of images, videos and text to engage your followers! And at all times Keep Calm and guide your viewers deeper into your social media communities. I like what I see in some Toastmaster Facebook Pages, group events, videos, links to other clubs in their areas and careful attention to posting relevant and engaging information.
Perhaps we need to encourage our online Facebook Page administrators to do likewise. For Facebook Page Administrators, my advice is to view the advice given by Facebook Business Help.
My Thoughts on Moderating your Social Media Presence!
Your ultimate goal is to moderate your social media site(s) with care and attention to the following 10 objectives:
- engage with your members to build trust
- provide relevant information to the community
- invite discussions on matters of interest
- support members in their engagement with others
- remove outdated, commercial or inappropriate posts
- keep the site active and interesting
- provide current resources that will help members
- send timely invitations to attend meetings
- publish links to meetings with time zone conversions in place
- share the administration with others
Note: One of my pet peeves is the ‘distracting comments and replies’ we find sprinkled in among our postings on social media. The ones that take the viewers on a different journey of thought and dialogue than the one you intended. This is called ‘hijacking’ in my book, and is a practice to avoid.
Remember your social media site is the ‘lifeblood’ of the Toastmaster Online Club members. It is here where you will find frequent communications between the live meetings scheduled. From my personal experience, I find that online Toastmasters experience a more frequent social media presence than those in bricks and mortar clubs. Keep that in mind as you decide how the social media site will be administrated.
One optional extra you may build within your social media presence is a separate ‘space’ for your Executive team – always useful to have smaller group discussions using tools fit for that purpose. eg Trello and Slack.
This little ‘management tool’ will help keep your team on track.
NEXT WEEK: Training needs and opportunities for organizers of Toastmaster Clubs Online meetings. I will focus on how to prepare for effective management of your meetings.