Reflections on Social Media…

Volunteer Victoria recently held a very well attended (and received) WordPress workshop with Paul Holmes. This is just one of several successful social media workshops we have offered over the past several months in support of our members and sector. We welcome and thank Gillian Rowan, first-time blogger and workshop participant, for agreeing to share her learnings with usWe would love to hear from you too! Share a tip or reflection of your own

It was with great hesitation that I first became involved with social media.  I had the same concerns that you often hear – I didn’t have the time, couldn’t think of anything to post, and was worried that my privacy might be impacted. That was back in August of 2009 when I finally registered for an introductory workshop on how to use social media – offered through Volunteer Victoria.  As I found myself in that workshop, I never imagined where I would be today – using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, and many other social media dashboards and tools on a daily basis.

Volunteer Victoria’s introductory workshop opened up a whole new world for me.  I enjoyed the material presented by Paul Holmes and Catherine Novak, and rushed home afterwards to open a Twitter account (how exciting!).  I started using Twitter and reading everything I could find about social media.  As I engaged with others in the social media realm, I had a pleasant surprise – there were already lots and lots of community-minded folks there, using social media to communicate and share!

Thirteen months later…

In September 2010 it seemed only natural to register for a second workshop held by Volunteer Victoria – An Introduction to WordPress presented by Paul Holmes.  Though I hadn’t yet blogged and didn’t have a personal website, I was very curious about WordPress.  I wondered what it was used for and what it did? 

Here are just a few of the many points I took away with me: 

• WordPress can be used not only for blogging, but also as a content management system (CMS) for websites.
• WordPress has a much larger user-base than any other CMS (in the millions) – handy when you have a question or need support!
• WordPress is open-source software, with thousands of plug-ins to add functionality to the basic platform (you can take a standard WordPress template and turn it into something totally unique).
• Knowledge of html and code language is not necessary when using WordPress.  This makes it a user-friendly choice.
• There is so much information available about how to use WordPress that there is actually an annual WordCamp conference in Victoria (wow)!

I’ll end this post with a few final thoughts…

Social media can help you connect with volunteers, businesses and sponsors and people that you share a common interest with – people you wouldn’t have otherwise met.  Social media is totally different than other more traditional communications/marketing tools – it allows for true conversations to take place.  You can choose to join in the conversation or not – but with or without you – the conversation will exist (and will sometimes be about you or the work that you do).  So, join in the conversation! Social media is social in nature.  Observing others, listening, having conversations, and being transparent are all core components of social media. There is no question, it takes time and energy to develop relationships using social media.  Is it worth it?  Now I can say, absolutely!

You can find Paul’s slideshow presentation here and a copy of Volunteer Victoria’s social media policies here.

Gillian Rowan works for the Burnside Gorge Community Association as the Team Leader for Recreation Services.  She organizes special events and coordinates recreation programs for the Community Centre.  You will most certainly find her at the upcoming WordCamp in January 2011, and can find her on Twitter at @GillianRowan.

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