It's quick, easy and effective: virtual networking has already changed the way the word is spread about events and causes. You can gain valuable online support through blogs, websites, social networking sites and online forums.
Don't be shy
Make sure that people know you're online by including the URL in all your emails, flyers and posters. Actively collect emails and addresses when you're out at an event and (if they've given permission) add these people to your contact list for electronic updates on your issue or campaign.
Persuade people with social networking
When groups of friends form online discussions through internet websites, it's called 'social networking'. A vibrant and diverse online social network gives your campaign credibility. It demonstrates that your cause is interesting and popular.
You can also make use of time-saving tools to communicate with members through large-scale emails or postings to bulletin boards.
Show off your skills
Posting pictures and audio from your event on social networking sites is a great way to arouse interest and recruit more members.
A study by McKinsey (2007) has found that only 3-6% of users generate content on the net and the other 97% consume it. Although there seems to be a lot of information on the net, you will be one of the few (percentage wise) creating your own videos or blog.
Share your experience
When you work online, you can share ideas and ask for help from people who you would never normally meet but may have had similar experiences. It gives you the chance to communicate directly with other campaigners and groups by email and setting up discussion groups through MySpace, Facebook or the Idealist.
Idealist is an interactive site run by the non-profit organisation, Action Without Borders. On the site, people and organisations around the world can exchange resources and ideas, locate opportunities and supporters.
Explore viral marketing
No, it's not a virus that will attack your computer. Viral marketing is a technique where you spread information by ‘word-of-mouth’. For example, you forward emails to your friends who in turn forward it to their friends.
Viral marketing can be about promotion or social awareness. Your message gets out there to as many people as possible through the cumulative power of social networking.
Just remember when sending a mass email to put the email addresses in the 'BCC' rather than the 'TO' field. You don't want to disclose everyone's email. It looks unprofessional and there are serious privacy issues to consider.
Save time with a mailing list
A mailing list is a list of email addresses that lets you send a single email to more than one person at a time without having to type in all of their email addresses.
You can have several mailing lists by categorising your different contacts. For example, you could create a mailing list with all your media contacts, so when you send a press release all you have to do is use your "media" mailing list.
Don't forget the mobile
Mobiles can be used as a promotional tool to text people info about your event or cause. But think carefully before you use this strategy, it can end up being expensive and can be invasive.
Just think how annoying and disappointing it is when you get spammed with text messages you don’t want. Only use text messaging when:
- It's urgent
- Permission has been given by the recipient
- The message is brief and timely
The future is bright
Our generation have the best tools to gather support and get people excited about events and issues. Blogs, social networking sites and emails have enormous potential if used wisely. Put effort into your messages, make them appealing and you could have people around the world signing up for your cause.