I am far too old to get enthusiastic about 'social networking'.
After all, I grew up at a time when the telephone was still not universal, and it took a year or more to get connected. And when I first travelled abroad, sending postcards was the only way of communicating back home; phone calls were far too expensive. But now, that’s worlds away, and everyone uses mobile phones, and social networking has replaced letter-writing.
I resisted this phenomenon for a long time, and although World Land Trust (WLT) tried using SMS (short message service or texting) for small donations a year or two ago, it wasn’t very successful, and I could never see how social networking could be turned into donations.
And then last week I had my Damascene experience; I had a training session with an expert on social networking, who convinced me that I was looking at it the wrong way.
I was probably right, it would be very difficult to ‘monetise’ social networking for the WLT (not emotive like disaster relief or children in need), but I should be looking at it in terms of increasing ‘brand awareness’. All horrible jargon, but actually spot on.
WLT, as so many of our supporters have told us, is doing a good job. It’s cost effective, and it’s breaking new ground. But we are not well enough known. Even though we have recently had features in The Independent newspaper, as well as in The Times, where Simon Barnes regularly writes about our projects, we are still a relatively unknown organisation.
Our endorsements by Sir David Attenborough give people confidence, once they have found our website, but they still have to find us. And that is where social networking comes into play.
We have accounts with LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, and we do have significant numbers of followers, but at present, we do not have an overall strategy of communicating with them, or of integrating our news stories, or even this blog.
So now having becoming a convert, I have to work out how to tweet, blog the right things and communicate with a whole new audience.
What do you think is the message that is going to resonate with our potential audience? I don’t want to communicate randomly with everyone, I want to communicate with those who will take the future of wildlife and natural habitats seriously.
All suggestions on the proverbial post card please, or below.