Online Media Dos and Don'ts
Maintaining a web presence for your group is one of the most important ways to keep your group growing and known. That being said, there are a few protocols to follow to make sure that your web presence is being as effective as it possibly can be. Here are a few things to take into consideration:
• Decide what is the best option for your web presence. Are most, if not all, of your general members on Facebook? If so, consider a page or a group. GroupSpaces is another place that may work for your group, or Google Groups. Check out the advantages and disadvantages to each here: http://www.secularstudents.org/webpresence
• Have pictures for your group! People want to see smiling faces attached to your group - they want to know that real people inhabit it*. Consider a logo for your group (here are some examples if you're a branded affiliate: http://www.secularstudents.org/logos)
*make sure you have someone's permission when posting their photo - you don't want to accidentally 'out' some of your members!
• Have your mission statement in the most obvious place you can, whether it be in the group description, page description, front page, etc. This lets people know what you're about and the vision/position of the group.
• Make sure to list the leadership and how to get in contact with them. List the group email (if there is one. You should have one!) The Secular Student Alliance will provide a forward (firstname.lastname@example.org) that can forward to an individual or a few officers if you'd rather keep your information private. You can find information about that here: http://www.secularstudents.org/groupemail
• WHERE and WHEN your meetings are! There is nothing more frustrating to a potential new member that visits your group and can't find the meeting info! Make sure you're specific with a time/date/SEMESTER as well.
• Links and information about local/national groups. Maybe you have a few members that are about to graduate and want to still be involved in the secular community afterwards. Maybe you're interested in branching out to those groups and create a tighter knit community (you could also form a Coalition of Reason with two other groups in your area!) Either way, it's great to have let people know there are like-minded folks off-campus.
• You've got a lot of awesome events, right? Remember that when planning an event, you should include:
1. A name of the event
2. An icon/descriptive picture
3. Date and Time and Place!
4. A description of the event - the more descriptive, the better
5. Be absolutely sure to send out the invite for an event AT LEAST a week in advance! Less than a month, more than week is ideal. Avoid at all possible costs sending it the night before - people will have already planned their day, some people won't see it, and it just looks unprofessional.
6. Encourage your members to invite their friends!
• Post relevant events and links! If there are other groups on campus that are activist minded and they're holding a protest, go ahead and post their event to the page.It's great to make friends with other groups on campus. (Groups to consider: Amnesty International, the local chapter of NOW or whatever feminist group there may be, LGBT allies, etc)
• Remove spam from the wall! Nothing says "Unkempt Facebook Group" like spam that hasn't been taken care of.
• Have someone (or a few people) whose responsibility is to take care and update your web presence! Keeping it up to date can seem to be a bigger challenge than creating it in the first place.
• Work within your capacity. Are you a small starting group with only a few members? You probably don't need a huge website with lots of links and a regular blog - it's too much! Less is more.
• If you have a discussion board, be sure to have a moderator so things don't get out of hand. You don't want your group to split over a flame war!
- If this group is public, then everything you say is public! Can't say it in public? Don't post it!
Â· Don't NOT update - this applies to every kind of web presence! If your Facebook group hasn't been updated since 2009, people are going to wonder if you're still around. If your website still welcomes people to the new decade (and you're not replying to Lyz's emails about affiliating), you may accidentally lose your affiliation because we don't know still exist! And if we don't know you exist, then potential new members may not either! Keep it UPDATED!
• Again, do NOT send out event invites the night before! Some people won't see it and some people already have plans.
• If your group is endorsing a particular political candidate, be careful! It can be divisive in a group.
• Don't remove comments that you disagree with personally - UNLESS it is threatening! Then it's okay.
• Don't (as an officer) post something with the express desire to incite controversy. Flame wars will only alienate and divide the group. If there is an actual purpose to what someone is posting, then such things may happen, but posting something for controversy in an awful idea.
• Don't overcommit yourself to a web presence! Keep things together as much as you can. If you can get everything done that you need to in just a Facebook group, then just have a Facebook group.