People often tout Social Media as the primary way to connect with consumers, funders and other stakeholders in your Center. Here are a few examples of social media and how you might use them:
Your own website: Most centers maintain a website with basic information about your center and its services. Often this includes key staff and contact information. More and more, before they pick up a phone to talk with you, people check you out on line. Make sure your website is clear about who you are and what you do. Make sure it is accessible. Make sure that you are communicating your message to the disability community around you. Put the address on business cards, stationery and brochures to help people find you. Some centers also use their site as a Portal to Board or Staff information.
Facebook: An online social media and social networking service. You can create one or more pages for your Center to carry on a conversation with consumers that is either general or focuses on specific elements of your services. You may want a separate page for youth, for example, and feature a calendar of their events along with posts that youths with disabilities are interested in. People can like, share and follow your page to see your posts in their feed.
LinkedIn: A professional network. You choose/invite your contacts and can post professional articles or communicate with your contacts individually. LinkedIn has offices in 30 cities around the world. LinkedIn operates the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with more than 467 million members in over 200 countries and territories.
Snapchat: An image messaging and multimedia mobile application. One of the principal concepts of Snapchat is that pictures and messages are only available for a short time before they become inaccessible. A center using this service would need to examine the accessibility of any images used.
Twitter: An online news and social networking service where users post and interact with messages, “tweets,” restricted to 140 characters. Registered users can post tweets, links and images. You collect followers who receive your tweets, and may choose to follow or retweet the posts of others.
A WordPress, My Space or other blog: A blog (a truncation of the expression weblog) is a discussion or informational website published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete, often informal diary-style text entries (“posts”). Posts are typically displayed in reverse chronological order, so that the most recent post appears first, at the top of the web page. You are reading a blog maintained by Paula McElwee as part of the IL-Net project for technical assistance. Blogs are typically written by an individual and are somewhat editorial in nature.
You Tube: A video posting site where you can upload short videos about specific topics. These should be captioned for accessibility. Some Centers post about accessibility, independent living skills, history and philosophy of Independent Living and other how-to or historical videos for the field. Some interview people and post the peer support videos of individual experiences.
Google +: This brand-specific option combines your own page about your CIL with videos, invitation lists, calendars, Google describes this as “a social layer across all of Google’s services”.
Flickr: A popular website for users to share and embed personal photographs, and effectively an online community, the service is widely used by photo researchers and by bloggers to host images that they embed in blogs and social media.
Pinterest: A photo sharing site where you post your own images or re-post others, using topical boards to categorize them. These images should be described for accessibility.
Soundcloud: A post for podcasts, other audio files. You will want to assure you can caption, or also post a transcription.
Don’t just assign your Facebook page to a youth and let that person do their thing. You want a cohesive message, and that means someone needs to assure that all social media is appropriate. This may, at times, mean editing out a comment that is counter to your mission. Whatever social media you decide to use, make sure that it is:
- Provides a consistent message
- Active and up to date
Thanks to Wikipedia for many of these descriptions.
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