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Marketing & Communication for Today and Tomorrow

"Social Networking for Non-Profits"
By Caitlin Middleton, Executive Director

"Did you read Lisa's 'tweet'?" "Joan 'friended' me on Facebook." "I saw you are 'connected' with Bob on LinkedIn."

If any of this lingo makes sense to you, consider yourself a part of the new wave of social networking. These sites began taking over college campuses a few years ago, and have made their way to corporate America and the non-profit community with lightning speed. And why not? When used properly, internet social networking sites such as Facebook can be a valuable and low cost supplement to your organization's public awareness or marketing campaign.

Here are just two examples:

The Federation of Exchange Accommodators (FEA) has turned to Facebook in an effort to generate broader exposure for the association as well as create interest and enthusiasm in their annual conference. Using the FEA's Facebook page, members, referred to as "fans" can connect with other "fans" in advance of the conference. They can post comments or conduct discussions about speakers, educational sessions, or even arrange meetings during their time at the conference. This alternative approach is in its trial stages for FEA, but the opportunities for marketing the association and its events using these new online forums is endless.

The American Medical Women's Association (AMWA) encourages members to keep in touch using a variety of Facebook pages. Several pages have been created and are maintained by members, a large majority of them being student members who use this popular social networking medium to communicate with their peers worldwide about common interests.

If your association or professional society isn't already taking advantage of the added exposure that can easily be gained through a page on one of the popular web-based social networking sites, it may be time for you to decipher the difference between a "tweet" and a "wall post."