[This is another post whose original version went to the webmgrs list at AAUW.]
AAUW NC has had
- a mailing list open to all members since 1997 or so with more specialized lists (for branch presidents, state leaders) for several years. These are set up as “discussion lists” but only a few people ever post.
- an RSS feed since about 2005 aauwnc.org/feed, which (theoretically) offers a way to subscribe to the news
- a twitter account since 2007 or so (originally set up as a to retweet web site posts marked as “announcements” and encouraging folks to “subscribe via your phone”), twitter.com/aauwnc
- and a Facebook page since ?? (maybe late 2008 or sometime in 2009). facebook.com/aauwnc
These are integrated in the following ways
- Major news items are posted on the web site.
- Twitter is used to tweet the titles of the web posts and is used for some “extra” news that doesn’t make it onto the web site.
- Facebook pulls in the full text of the web posts via RSS. Most of the auxiliary twitter posts are also posted there along with, sometimes, more explanations and context
- closing the loop, the web site pulls in the facebook news feed on www.aauwnc.org/news
- every once in a great while the web site (and some Facebook) “headlines” are summarized in an e-newsletter to the all-members mailing list.
- twitterfeed.com used to read the RSS feed from the web site and repost to twitter
- ping.fm used to post items to Facebook and Twitter at the same time
- tweetree used to read/post as @nes49 – a browser based client that doesn’t have the advanced “listening” features of something like tweetdeck or hootsuite but does have “real names” and threaded discussions which really help me understand the messages.
- twirl used to manage “organization” twitter accounts, making it easy to be both @aauwnc and @ncwu
- The website posts are imported to Facebook using the notes application — doesn’t always work correctly (and seems to be particularly problematic today, sigh).
An earlier part of the conversation mentioned using Facebook to reach college/university populations. AAUW NC uses it to reach Facebook members in general, and doesn’t gear it for C/U communication in particular. There are many nonmember fans of the page, but few of those are on campuses. They are mostly friends of fans or come from connections through our allied organizations.
None of these communication avenues have a broad reach, and I don’t spend much time on analytics. From anecdotal evidence, I have to believe that the Facebook page is doing a better job of reaching our members. On the other hand, since we’ve set up the page we’ve cut back on our “e-newsletter” publications, and I’m sure we’re missing some people who haven’t “liked” the page, don’t use Facebook at all, and never check the News page on the web site. So we’re going back to basics and looking at better use of a mailing list, which is still the way many people prefer to get their news. As for nonmembers — twitter and Facebook both reach folks who might not have heard about us otherwise — but we’ve not been as intentional about the outreach as we might have been.
For more on the general topic of setting up a marketing plan and using new (and old) media, I’d recommend Kivi Leroux Miller’s new book “The Nonprofit Marketing Guide” (amazon link). It has a number of practical tips, some of which are aimed at larger organizations. But I found it useful to read in the context of a branch/state marketing plan, most of which fall into her “marketing department of one” target audience. See www.nonprofitmarketingguide.com for more. [I’m rereading it now — let me know if you’re interested in a virtual book discussion.]
See also www.aauwnc.org/subscribe.
Only about 1% of the AAUW members ever attend convention, but many more are extremely interested in what happens. As someone who’s been on communications teams at the branch and state level, I’ve been passionate about getting information out “to the folks back home” since my first convention in 1999. At first (1999, 2001), I was concerned about posting information of my personal activities (e.g. IT 2001 campaign), but then I started documenting the North Carolina delegation (2003, 2005, 2007). Those were mostly posts I did from my room after all the events were over.
In 2007, in response to the culture change to have more information immediately available, we also tried using twitter to get information out from the floor of the convention. Louse (@weegspin), Kate (@skeggy), and I (@nes49) were pretty much shouting into the void, though — there was no real way to get the word out to the members that another information stream existed. See the report on that experiment.
This year, however, there was a rich “twitter stream” on all aspects of the convention. Staff and members both contributed, and while there was limited “conversation” with the folks back home, at least the word got out to many who were able to follow along. See the transcript.
What changed? Here’s my list:
- Facebook happened. In the spring of 2007 a student from Alabama had started the first (and still the largest) AAUW Facebook group. After the 2007 convention, a second group was started by students from Illinois Iowa to help unite the younger members. Starting in the fall of 2007, Facebook started attracting the “not so younger” members who were able to find each other, and they started conversations on how to use Facebook to advance the mission. The 2009 convention itself had a group.
- AAUW started a blog in early 2008. The staff’s use of “web 2.0” technology to raise awareness and support conversations legitimized the use of “putting unfiltered information into the public domain” in addition to the tightly controlled e-mail lists and the properly more formal research reports and www.aauw.org in general.
- In late 2008, AAUW committed to sponsor the Feminism 2.0 conference, and that conference in February, 2009, demonstrated the possibilities of both blogging and micro-blogging to forge connections and build support for a wide range of issues on the feminist agenda.
- So by June 2009, we had folks with blogs, facebook profiles, twitter, flickr and more who were ready to report back to the members at home about all that was going on. More than that, they could find each other and share photos, comments, and updates. I don’t know all that went into the staff’s decision not to publish a daily “newspaper” about the convention — but I think the coverage was pretty good without that extremely labor intensive project. Of course we’re still using e-mail lists and other tools to gather information for state newsletters and web sites, and more will be coming out in the next few weeks. But I think we did a credible job of getting the flavor of convention to those who couldn’t attend but were engaged enough to follow the information stream.
Again, I’m just seeing part of the elephant, but I have to give credit to Linda Hallman who took over as ED in January 2008 for supporting a culture that allowed this experimentation by the staff. Thanks, of course, to all the staff members and volunteers who participated. After such a big disappointment with twitter in 2007, this 2009 information sharing has been great.
I wonder what things will look like in 2011…
There are fewer than 1000 members who will be attending the AAUW convention in St. Louis this weekend — but the interest around the country is amazing. So some of us are planning to tweet, blog, post on Facebook, and otherwise get the word out as the convention evolves.
I’ll be traveling with my trusty laptop — this is old faithful’s fourth convention (knock wood). [See posts from 2003, 2005 and 2007.] But because Internet connectivity at convention is limited, I won’t be lugging that with me during the day — no e-mail or web (or Facebook), but I will have twitter.
On twitter we’re using the “hashtag” #aauw09, and folks at home can follow that at
If you want to post a comment or a question from home, some of us will be “listening” for that. You can post general comments to the #aauw09 twitter stream, but you can also send targeted messages (use “D <twittername>”) to reach a particular person. No promises, of course — there will be times when phones are turned off and we’re concentrating on the interactions with the wonderful members we see once every two years. But it may be a way to reach out to convention attendees and add your voice to the conversation. You may just want to ues e-mail or Facebook to post your comments — some people will be staying in touch all day, and others will pick up those messages over night.
If you’re going to be in St. Louis and will depend on your phone for access, you have lots of options if you’ve entered the age of the “smart” phone. But if, like me, text messaging is the limit of your phone connectivity, how do you follow the #aauw09 conversation from the floor of the convention? Again, you may not want to keep up with all of that — but I’m exploring some options and if you have a suggestion, let me know. If any of my experiments pan out, I’ll let y’all know what I’m using.
Okay, we’ll give this another shot. I started on twitter in 2007, but dropped it as a time sink that didn’t have a high enough signal to noise ratio. I also figured that anyone who cared much about what I said was my friend on Facebook and would see notes there. So for the last several months, my twitter use was pretty much limited to following @kim_gandy and @cnnbrk on my phone (though it’s sometimes surprising to see what CNN thinks folks need to know RIGHT NOW.)
The Fem2.0 conference brought it back to my attention (though I still think scrolling the #fem2 tweets on the screen behind the panelists was more distracting than valuable, and the twitter based meetings were *really* low on signal to noise). Also that meeting helped put twitter on the AAUW radar, so there’s now an “official” @aauw twitter stream and a few of the staff chime in on their own. I’ve still no evidence that AAUW members in general are into twitter — I expect (as I found in 2007) that the number of AAUW twitterers compares to the number of AAUW Facebook users about the way twitter/facebook has penetrated the general population. That might be down from the 1:100 ratio to more like 1:30 — but with only on the order of 1000 folks on Facebook who identify with AAUW, I’m not convinced there’d be a big payoff for twitter. [But then, I remember crying as I was leaving the “younger members session” in Phoenix in 2007 — the panel said “use text messaging” but my note about twittering the convention was rejected as inappropriate for the Convention Daily.]
We’ll see if I stick with it (and can control the time sink). Two new tools may help:
- The Firefox add in Shareaholic. Almost a one-click tweet of an interesting link. Let me know if you find those annoying. I still do use del.icio.us for things of lasting value (particularly tag aauwtech).
- Web interface tweetree.com. This is something like twitter.com on steroids —
- gives additional info on links including showing the media links as pix or videos,
- has a box to do a search directly (instead of moving over to search.twitter.com),
- shows (as best as it can figure) the original message when a friend posts an @reply,
- supports retweet directly (without copy/paste),
- and more.
I’m still being circumspect about following other folks – so don’t take it personally, just consider my borderline ADD and twitter @nes49 to get my attention (or, as my twitter profile still says, find me on Facebook).
On Monday, I’ll be at the Fem2pt0 conference in DC. While not quite an “unconference,” the “point” of the conference has been a little vague. But AAUW was a co-sponsor and it sounded interesting, so I signed up.
My background for the conference (which I guess I am thinking of as mix of web 2.0 and feminism) includes
- Working on web minus 1 strategies for using technology to connect people since 1982.
- Using web 1.0 strategies to connect feminists, in particular, since 1996
- Using web 2.0 strategies for feminists and other organizations since 2005.
- Supporting the NC Women United coalition with web/virtual office strategies since 2002 when the nonprofit that had been managing that organization’s projects lost its funding.
I’m a fan of WordPress and Facebook. I’m a twitter dropout (but for limited use of twitterfeed). I’ve been a noisy advocate for better use of technology at AAUW since 2001, and am currently serving as admin of the largest AAUW Facebook group which is about to pass 1000 members.
I hope to connect with new folks and learn new strategies to
- promote AAUW’s mission and feminist goals
- learn how to better use 2.0 strategies for fundraising
- engage volunteers, particularly feminists (of all generations)
- keep up with the whirlwind pace of new techniques that help us all share information without succumbing to information overload.
So, as you can see, I’m a “work on the plumbing” kind of person — not much feminist theory in my background, and I’ll let others do the heavy lifting of crafting positions that I’m glad to help publicize.
I’m looking forward to the day!