From Rural Action.org “Rural Action builds model sustainable development projects and encourages a broad civic conversation around Appalachian Ohio’s assets in order to create sustainable development paths for the region.”
For my Communications and Campaigns class, my group was approached by Rural Action to bring attention to the Waste Stream Management problems in Athens County. Currently, we are only able to handle a very small portion of all of the garbage that the community creates and people need to know this. I was charged with creating the various social media outlets for it and this is my analysis of what I did and why.
The use of social media outlets as a marketing tool has been gaining a lot of momentum over the past few years. Both small businesses and corporations alike are finding more and more that the ability to be in direct contact with their consumers on a social level is very beneficial and integral to their marketing mix. It has given organizations the ability to see what people are saying about their products and services and allows them to throw their hat into that conversation.
Not only does it let the company respond to what people are saying but it also helps the customer feel like their voice matters. It is both exciting and dangerous because if people aren’t speaking highly of your organization, word can travel quickly and not always have the best results.
For the Rural Action Waste Stream Management campaign, the client wished to reach out to the student body to make them aware of how inefficient Athens waste management really is. By bringing about this awareness, they hope to get the student body involved in changing these practices and taking responsibility for the waste they create.
Since a large majority of the Ohio University student body is active on multiple social networks, namely Facebook and Twitter, it made the most sense that these would be the major outreach tools to use. For the purposes of this campaign, the Facebook page acts as a starting point that then links people to other pages and resources related to the clients organization.
In the past couple of months, Facebook has completely revamped their group pages and added a lot of functionality that lets you to reach out to people in extremely beneficial ways. The pages still have the familiar wall, discussions, event posts, information page and photo section but they have added the ability to do a lot of customization to create a more personal feeling.
With the new Static Facebook Markup Language feature, you can add customizable tabs to the left sidebar on your Facebook page. I utilized this by adding a “Like” button to the page and a link to both the Rural Action website and the Rural Rambler YouTube channel.
Another feature of the new pages allows you to get more feedback from your fans and add further customization is the app feature. These are applications that you can add to your left task bar and profile tabs at the top of your page. I added a poll app, positing a simple question “Do you separate all your recyclables into multiple bins?” with the ability to answer “Yes” or “No.” While this is a simple question, you could use this to gather a wealth of information from your followers.
To add value to the pages content and further its purpose as an aggregate page, I added a couple RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds into the sidebar. The purpose of these is to provide people with more information about the topic related to our Facebook group page. I used a couple different apps for this; the Simple RSS Tab scrapes Huffington Post’s Green section of their website every 30 minutes and updates our page with new articles; the other is called RSS Graffiti and it scrapes the Rural Rambler, EarthDay.org, and the Environmental News Network every 30 minutes to post to the Facebook wall.
It used to be that when you had a group page on Facebook, you could post on other peoples pages but only as the administrator. With the new pages, you can post on others pages as your page, i.e., you have the ability to post on Ohio University’s page as Waste Stream Management instead of as Adam Horst. The advantage of this is that you can reach out to like minded groups and people and it gives more personality to your page. I reached out to many Ohio University schools, programs and students that I felt could be beneficial to our clients cause like Recyclemania, OU Involvement, Ohio University Community Service and OU Greek Life.
Another great feature, Facebook Insights, allows you to see what elements of your page are drawing in the most traffic. For instance, it shows the views of your wall, events, information, tabs on your left task bar, RSS feeds, etc. This allows you to improve the elements that aren’t garnering as much attention and continue to focus on the things people are most interested in.
While Facebook is good for getting people to rally around your cause or let them know about an event, Twitter is better for carrying on a conversation and driving traffic to our website. On Twitter, I followed like minded people that are concerned about the environment and human well-being in general. Additionally, we followed local groups and businesses that are in the same vein of environmental and progressive thinking as Rural Action. The page acts as an abridged version of our Facebook page, as it will direct you there if you choose to follow our link and also allows people to watch a quick YouTube video to learn more about the program.
It is very important that you make all of your social media outlets in a uniform manner, in a sense, making sure that your “brand” is the same across all platforms. You achieve this by using the same logo, name and websites and link them all together. To make sure that all of our pages are always updated with the same information, we used a couple different services to achieve this.
HootSuite is a social media management tool that allows you to control all of your accounts from one convenient location. You can link your blogs, Twitter and Facebook accounts to this program and update them all at once. For instance, I set up another RSS feed to post to our Facebook and Twitter every three hours from NPR’s Environment section of their blog. Additionally, I linked our Twitter account to our Facebook so that if someone posts on one, it will update the other. All RSS content posted to our page from HootSuite and Twitter is funneled through the URL shortener Ow.ly and allows you to track clicks on those links as well.
Klout is a website that provides you with in-depth information about how influential you are in your social networks. Since I run the Waste Stream Management account, I’m sad to say that we come in with a score of 11, which should be higher, since my personal score is 45.