Effective Web 2.0 Strategies to Support Youth Mentoring Programs
The evolution of the internet has given rise to a seemingly infinite number of communication channels. Social media is a defining characteristic of Web 2.0. Savvy youth mentoring programs are harnessing the power of these communication channels to connect with their base and to reach out to new potential members. This article will discuss common social media strategies youth mentoring programs can utilize in an effort to promote their cause.
All youth mentoring programs should strongly consider developing a strong social media presence. Young demographics are the heaviest users of social media. Social media sites, such as Facebook, Myspace, Friendster, and Bebo, can be used to interact with current members and get new members interested. Features such as “Status Updates” can be used to broadcast news and relevant information like meeting times. Links to important websites can also be easily distributed to a wide audience through social networking sites. You should encourage conversation with interested people. Engagement strengthens the existing relationships within your program, as well as draws in new people through interested observation.
Twitter is a bit different than social networks. While most social networks are mostly private, Twitter is a very public forum. Anyone can choose to follow your Twitter feed. By doing so, they will be updated automatically every time you update your Twitter account. In the simplest form, Twitter should be used to update a wide audience about important information or events. It can also be used to engage and respond to interested followers, in the hopes of drawing them into your program. Youth programs should provide a link on their Twitter account back to their main website, so interested people can learn more about your program. Just remember that Twitter is very public by nature, so restraint should be used when representing any kind of youth program.
All youth programs should consider have an active blog. There are a number of benefits to maintaining an active blog for your youth program. Blogs allow you to express a longer, more detailed story than any other social media outlet. Good blogs will tell compelling personal stories, complete with pictures. This is the forum to really connect with new members. Blogs are also great ways to engage with other programs within the blogsphere. Many youth programs actively blog and, by participating in the blogsphere, you open another communication channel. Additionally blogs can also serve as excellent communication channels, as they actively encourage discussions with their readers through commenting. Blogs require an investment of time to actively maintain, but in most cases it is worth the investment.
All of these social media outlets produce synergies as more of them are utilized. By cross promoting these different tools, you will begin to reach new and different audiences you never realized. Remember that it takes time to build up your social media “clout” and, the more you participate, the more you serve to gain from the experience.