Social networks offer a dynamic method of communication for members of various organizations and associations.
Among their various benefits, private social media platforms are a cost-effective way to enable your group to engage and interact with one another, share important trade updates, and promote exclusive offers for members. As with any new technology or communication solution, the first step is implementing the tool, building the network, and getting your association members involved.
Building a Private Social Network
If you’re looking for a new platform to motivate and energize your association membership, a private social network is a good fit. Here is how you to get started:
1. Choose the Right Network
The first step is picking the right app or tool for your association. Most organizations and businesses already have a presence on the major social media platforms—such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook—so you should identify what type of private network could help round out your communications strategy. Keep in mind the users will be comprised of people already involved in the association, not simply curious parties who want more information. Ideally, you want a platform that is secure, private, free, and doesn’t track user data. Members should be able to communicate in groups or one-on-one and have control over who sees their content.
2. Establish Policies and Procedures
Guidelines and rules help ensure Internet-based forums, social networking platforms, and other sites are used correctly to foster a positive environment. If you haven’t done so, develop a professional practice statement for your web-based technologies that mitigates the risks and challenges associated with using social media while maximizing opportunities to bolster your association’s mission and goals. If your association already has a professional practice statement that guides your governing body and other organizational executives on the establishment and management of social media tools, make sure you’re applying it to the current implementation of your new private social network.
3. Invite Your Members
Once you’ve set up an account with the private social network of your choice, you need to grow it among your staff, members, and other important constituencies. Yet the whole point of adding this tool in conjunction with using public platforms is that it’s not an open community just anyone can join. So how do you get the information to the right recipients? A good place to start is by announcing implementation of the new app in an e-newsletter that goes out to your members. Include a link and any data they need to join your network. You can also disseminate the information at meetings, workshops and events for members. If you have a private Facebook page, you can also share about your new network on that platform. Part of the rollout should include introducing users to the new system and explaining what they can gain by using it.
4. Share Guidelines on Submission
Along with letting your members know how and where to sign up for your private social network, you should also share with them guidelines for user-generated content. Inform them of the association’s right to monitor content and to administer social media usage in accordance with both association policies and relevant state, local, and federal laws. Also outline the guidelines for what constitutes appropriate site content and what procedures members should follow to request removal of any offensive material. Additional information to share with new network users include:
- Disclosure of site and content ownership
- Policies for protecting user privacy
- Disclosure of limitations on your association’s liability for the site
- Disclosure of disclaimers or warranties of the association
5. Encourage Internal Social Networking
Finally, to get the ball rolling—and keep it going—you want to get your members on board with your private social network. That doesn’t mean simply getting them to sign up for the app, but also motivating them to enthusiastically and regularly utilize it as a venue for sharing information and ideas, communicating with one another, and having meaningful discussion within the group. Social networks give a voice to individual contributors, as well as a safe place for exercising that voice. Here are a few tips for enhancing user engagement and augmenting the success of your social network:
- Consult your members early and often to get their input about the new system
- Be responsive to user feedback and flexible enough to try new ideas
- Make it an integral part of your communication strategy so users have a reason to check in frequently for updates
- Create polls, ask questions, and post events on a group calendar to keep your association members engaged and on the same page
Using Go2s for Your Association
A private social network can be an effective way to connect the members of your organization, regardless of their geographical location. You can also get them more engaged with your mission, goals, and activities by using social media apps, like Go2s. Both private and free of cost, Go2s is a way for you to strengthen your association by enabling robust communication and information-sharing in a single, secure virtual environment.