The NFTY and URJ Staff who helped make everything happen this week deserve to be commended for successfully incorporating some incredible technology into the mainstream programming for participants and staff alike. From text-based surveys to Visual T'filah, cell phones were used as tools to enhance programming and screens and videos were used to engage visual learners and participants in new ways. And...then there was the tweeting that was going on. Yes, you read that correctly. I said tweeting. NFTY did something that very few communities have been able to do to date: successfully engage a large group of teens in communicating via Twitter. Not only was this done successfully, but it was also presented tastefully as an additional option to plug into the action and excitement that was going on at Convention. Teens were using hashtags like professionals by the second day, and it was evident fairly immediately that something special was taking place. While NFTY had a stream of tagged posts on the Convention live blog page so anyone could plug in to the conversation, participants also had friends and family members following along from back home. Furthermore, there was an active practice of retweeting and commenting - clearly exciting to see your tweets broadcasted to other participants and followers!
Why do I think this is such a big deal? Because we now have hundreds of teens (and youth professionals, too!) who saw the value in how we can use Twitter to enhance our communities and extend the reach of our programs, relationships and conversations. So...I must ask...if not now, when?! (Pirke Avot 1:2) Now is the time for our communities and organizations to capitalize on this. Here are just a few easy next steps to consider:
- Include social media account information/links in marketing materials for programs and events, as well as in your email signature.
- Link your TYG and/or organizational Facebook pages to a Twitter account, so they cross-post and expand your reach!
- Include widgets on your websites, inviting readers to join the conversations happening on Facebook, Twitter, Flikr, etc...
- Encourage staff and lay leadership to post or tag to your organizational account while away at programs, events or conferences.
- If you create it, maintain it.
- It takes a bit of time and effort to create a cultural shift when you implement consistent use of social media. Once people recognize the ability to receive information in those venues (and see that it is updated on a regular basis), your ability to extend your community to those areas will be established.
- Identify and implement your brand. Be sure to use similar logos, colors and vocabulary across your platforms (website, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to uphold your institutional mission, goals, values and brand.
For a variety of cool tools, articles and examples of these thoughts in action, refer to one of my resources pages for a workshop I have led for a few different organizations during the past year.
Again, kol ha'kavod to everyone who made this happen. This was a true "lead by example" moment. I think the potential this little experiment showed is incredibly exciting, and I'm looking forward to seeing how NFTY embraces and utilizes this as they transition their communication strategies and platforms in the months and years ahead!