When you talk about going online, most people think that just means having a website, or a Facebook page. Because that’s what you see from the outside.
But communication is at the core of your organisation and always has been. It’s the club grapevine, the noticeboard, the rules and minutes, calendars, promoting and responding to events, and so on. Email has been added to that mix.
Some organisations have websites, others Facebook pages, Facebook groups and email newsletters and these often depend on an enthusiastic (and exhausted) volunteer.
During this course we’ll look at websites, Facebook, email newsletters and so on, but while you can implement them one step at a time, it is important to view them as parts of a much bigger and dynamic system, all assisting and reinforcing each other.
Here is a brief list that you could adapt to suit your organisation. We’ll deal with each one in seperate modules later on.
Website (Public face of the organisation. May have a members only section)
Audiences: General public, members, potential members, potential clients, sponsors, etc
Purpose: Generate interest and facilitate enquiries, bookings for events and other products and services. Provide information for members and potential members. For interest groups, it's a way to get your message out.
Benefits: Relatively cheap form of advertising, available to all. Workload can be distributed. Documents for members can be provided in a members password protected area.
Constraints: You need to raise awareness so people look for the site, or target words and phrases they may search for in the search engines. A few members may not have internet access. Requires ongoing commitment.
Audience: Public, members, sponsors. Note: although the Facebook page is public, only those who use Facebook are likely to see it.
Purpose: Increase profile of the organisation. Quick, easy way to publish news or events. Promotion of sponsors. Share items of interest.
Benefits: Free - unless you choose to pay for promotion. Links and mentions can be attractive to sponsors. Some people use Facebook as a search engine. Members and supporters can promote your posts or events by sharing. Workload can be distributed.
Constraints: Less control. Not accessible to all internet users. Posts are ephemeral. You have little control over who sees them and when.
These can be Facebook groups, Slack, a forum on your website, Linkedin groups. They provide a way for members to contribute, share posts and discuss ideas. That is a good way to keep people interested without having to keep coming up with fresh content yourself. It requires some oversight or moderation, and you need at least two or three people to make regular contributions.
Email – Email Newsletters
Audience: Members (can be printed for members without internet if required). Other subscribers can include supporters, sponsors, etc.
Purpose: Keeping members involved and up-to-date, calling for volunteers, advertising events, calling for players/volunteers
Benefits: Immediate delivery to readers. Ability to send to segregated lists. Workload can be distributed.
Constraints: Keeping email address lists up to date. Some members don’t have access to email. Some members share email addresses.
Online Membership Database (Password protected)
Audience: Authorised Persons
Purpose: Authorised volunteers or staff can access club records and any time, and selected officers can update. Production of statistics and other reports.
Benefits: Elimination of duplicate lists which invariably differ. Authorised officers can access without having to go to one person to get information. Workload can be distributed. Eliminates the problem of keeping seperate email lists up to date (above).
Constraints: Relevant club officers need to be computer-literate, and pay attention to detail.
Which one you do first will depend on your club’s circumstances, what you have in place already, and your priorities.
Putting the Pieces Together
This is where your strategy comes in. You work out who you are trying to reach with each part and what outcome you want. How well these parts fit together determines the success. Things like:
- Sharing an article on your website on Facebook or LinkedIn,
- including a survey in your email newsletter and using the results as the basis for an article,
- encouraging people to subscribe to your newsletter so they get alerts of new content, and you get to build your supporter or potential member database.
I have found that I get very different audiences on Facebook and Linkedin and therefore use them differently.
Next: Why now?