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Issues Forums for organizations -

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Issues Forums for organizations


Revision as of 13:20, 9 November 2010 by Admin (Talk | contribs)

Participation 3.0 - Inclusive Social Media

How your organization can use Issues Forums effectively.

This handout is designed to help cultural and community organizations effectively participate in neighborhood and community-wide Issues Forums. This is part of our Ford Foundation funded Inclusive Social Media effort.

Unlike your organization's own website, Issues Forums (and similar online spaces like a Facebook "community" page) or a "place blog"), are community streams of content and interaction. Instead of having to build your own audience or EVmail announcement list at great effort, access to local residents is handily presented to you. You may use it when you need it provided what you seek to post fits the local scope of the forum.

At the very local level, small organizations find it very difficult to maintain up-to-date websites that rarely see visitors. While we recommend a basic web "who are you" presence with your own e-mail announcement list (and/or a blog with an e-mail subscribe option) and simpla Facebook Page, for most organizations leveraging the "shared" community stream is highly strategic.

Ready to post? Here are some tips on how participate effectively as an organization.

  • Announcements
    • Share them and reach hundreds of people for free. Stick to the local scope. With neighborhood-level and smaller community forums, just about any public event held within the neighborhood (or immediately adjacent) something to promote. On large city-wide forums people expect a more political relevancy. If you are uncertain about appropriateness, contact the local forum manager and ask. If you've never posted before or rejoined a forum, we normally moderate those posts so we will work with you if the announcement seems out of scope. If you are a neighborhood association or local elected official, consider putting the forum posting e-mail address on your announcement e-mail list.
  • Your News, Photos, and Video
    • Don't wait for the local media to discover and report on you, get out there and report on your own activities and events. Have some pictures or video from a community event? Share it. Our software allows you to post photos without having to edit or resize them simply by e-mail or the web. With video, simply use YouTube or Vimeo and post the video using that service's "share" web address. With community festivals and the like, consider posting a few photos early in the day (like via a smartphone) to encourage more residents to come on out. With video short clips under 3 minutes are most effective and if you are sharing recordings of full community meetings and the like, Vimeo works well.
  • Your Issues
    • Introduce them as discussion topics. One of the best ways to gather community input on the issues or needs your organization addresses is to ask a question. You can also watch for topic of interest and add your replies. People really apprciate it when someone adds a link to authoritative information like a government report, a news story, meeting minutes, and even resources on the shelf at the local library. If you have something of substance that can be shared, do it. In particular, correct the record or add details to discussion if the "grapevine" talk circulating off-line makes online with some incorrect details.

  • Advocacy
    • Invite people to your local campaigns, share major updates (but not all), see Issues Forums for community organizers
  • Monitor the Pulse - Be in the loop on community conversations.
  • Individuals Matter - Posts from organizations must be posted by named persons.
  • Be Prepared for Questions and Comments - The "cost" of posting to a democraticallly conceived Issues Forum is the chance that participants will have questions or comments. While more likely at the city-wide level, some may even challenge you or post a different opinion.

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