Even though Posts are closed due to COVID-19 and government stay-at-home orders, staying connected with Post members, volunteers and guests during closures remains important. It’s still possible to follow social distancing guidelines and enjoy socializing with your members, volunteers and guests. Here are three ways for staying connected during this time.
Set Up a Social Media Account
Social media is great for keeping up with friends and family. It can also be used by Post leadership to connect with members, volunteers and guests. Share news and updates, answer questions and ask for feedback. Here are some best practices:
Choose a social network your audience already uses. Facebook is used by billions of people around the world and probably by many of your Post members and volunteers. Other popular social media outlets for Posts are Instagram for sharing images and Twitter for sharing shorter updates. If your Post members enjoy videos, you could try setting up a YouTube account.
Plan for your social media content. Like a writer staring at a blank page, a social media account can feel intimidating if you haven’t thought about what to share before you begin. Make a list of ideas for sharing and interacting with your Post community on social media before you start. General ideas include:
- Curating and sharing interesting news and links.
- Asking questions, sharing fun quizzes and taking polls.
- Posting photos, videos, graphics and other visual content.
- Educating your audience by providing useful information.
- Sharing user-created content from Post members and volunteers.
Encourage participation from your audience. Post members and volunteers will enjoy hearing from the leadership of the Post, but social media really shines when there is a collaborative give and take between your page and your audience. Engage people with positive, funny, uplifting or interesting content and read and respond to comments from your audience.
Send Out a Weekly Email Newsletter
Email newsletters aren’t just for businesses selling a product or service, many organizations use them as well. These kinds of newsletters are a great way to share updates and keep your Post top of mind, even when your members, volunteers and guests are home. A weekly newsletter is just the right frequency for most, not too often to be bothersome and not too infrequent to be forgotten. Here are three tips for getting started:
Plan ahead for success. Think about the main objective or two you would like to achieve with a newsletter. Think about the audience of Post members, volunteers and guests. Your newsletter should be interesting and fun, with your audience excited to open the email and see what the Post has to say this week.
Brainstorm topic ideas. Like social media, it’s important to think about the content you will share in the email newsletters. Emails can be longer than social media posts, but you don’t want to make them too long. One to three main topics per email is usually enough. Here are some ideas:
- Share expert advice of use to your readers.
- Provide your perspective on a relevant topic.
- Feature a bio of someone at the Post.
- Highlight successes from Post initiatives.
- Showcase personal stories from Post events.
Grab attention with your email form fields. Everyone gets dozens of emails a day or more, so it’s important to stand out. Make sure the email sender field clearly identifies that this message is from the Post. Use your email subject field pique curiosity and get them to open it. Compare “April Newsletter” and “You won’t believe how big the flowers are getting!”
Schedule Video Get-Togethers
Video get-togethers have emerged as another popular social activity. Professionals use tools like Zoom Cloud Meetings, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts and Skype for telework meetings, video conferencing and webinar broadcasts. But you can also use these tools to check in face to face with your members and volunteers. Here are tips to get you started:
Pick a suitable date and time. Coordinating schedules for even a few people can be difficult. For a large group, it may be difficult to find a time that works for everyone. But it is important to pick a date and time that will work for most people who want to join. Make sure to give plenty of notice so that everyone at your Post can plan to be at the computer and have a chance to get set up.
Plan on offering technical assistance. New technologies can be confusing if you haven’t used them before. Most computers now come with a camera and a microphone built in, but many never use them. Some software will run easily in a standard web browser, but others may require downloads and setup. Video get-togethers are worth the hassle, but be ready to help people with technical matters.
Have a plan for getting the discussion started. Like any meeting or get-together, someone usually needs to break the ice and get the discussion started. Once people relax and settle in, conversations will flow easily. But it is helpful for the meeting host to have one or two topics ready to discuss or questions to pose to the audience.
The sudden shutdown of ordinary life has taken its toll but fostering community and communication with familiar faces is a great way to lift everyone’s spirits. Post members, volunteers and guests are likely curious what is happening with the Post and will be happy to hear from you, whether you choose social media, email newsletters or a video get-together. You may also learn something new, as your members, volunteers and guests share their hobbies and projects while at home. Even after the lockdowns have lifted, you can continue using the communication tools you develop now to stay connected with your Post community.