31 Days to a Better Blog – Day 3: Search for and join forums. How can non-profits preserve their image?
Friday, August 3rd, 2007
Today’s task for Probloggers 31 Days to a Better Blog was to search for and join Forums.
Rightly as Darren quotes by taking part in forums and online communities, they can help build relationships, help with profile and branding, learning and readership. (and increase your credibility?)
Like Michele Martin on her Bamboo Project blog, I already subscribe to a fair few forums. So what can I learn here?
I analysed the forums, and more so the ‘communities’ which I take part in. Some are much for my own learning with a particular application, and as myself I’ve grown and learn’t with the application, I’ve become confident to offer back advice to others that post questions. Some, I dip into with them a specific query or just plain curiosity when I am not sure of an answer. I haven’t the capacity to take on joining up any further fora just for the purpose of this experiment.
One thing that did make sense though, was the part of highlighting my signature, of linking to my blog. Some forums I have been with for years, and some forums and communities are newer, am I using the same ‘strapline’ or signature and highlighting my blog?
Erm, no. Not in all cases. So something to rectify at some point as soon as time allows or I next revisit them.
So, if we were looking at this from the perspective of a non-profit, voluntary or community organisation who blogs, and also takes part in discussion on various forums. How would we ensure that we did it right?
When out on ‘business’ at meetings and talks representing my organisation and being the ‘voice’ of my own organisation that I work for, I ensure that I put aside my personal views, and aim to represent the mission or aim we are trying to become. Does that apply to commenting on forums too? Do we need to create another raft of communications and code of conduct policies to add in procedures for our online virtual presence as well as our physical ones?
I think that comes down to to what type of forum you are taking part in to an extent. If you have some good practice that your organisation can share to enable others that helped you to overcome a situation, it is fine to talk with your ‘organisations name’ instead of your own. When we append our organisations name to what we do, we must be careful to ensure that our mission message doesn’t get blurred.
What if an over-enthusiastic volunteer or staff member or supporter was delivering messages that didn’t reflect your organisation? If someone out there had no knowledge of your organisation and saw that this post or comment on a forum came from someone in that organisation? What image or perception would they have of your group? What if a potential funder or supporter in their own personal state was also on that forum and saw your organisations name making odd ‘off the cuff’ comments here and there – what image would they have of your organisation?
Remember, to those that may not know the work you do – you are acting as that face of the organisation.
I am not saying that as an organisation you shouldn’t take part in online communities and networking through forums by any means, I really think it is essential in todays climate to collaborate and share much more than we already do, but some care must be taken somewhere along the line to ensure that any messages or comments are not misconstrued in certain circumstances.
As the whole evolution of communicating with different media is taking place at such a rate of knots and becoming so much easier for instantaneous contact and responses, we should all still remember to think before we speak (or write!) to remember who we are, and if we are being seen to be an individual or representing something bigger.
Finally, Cammy Bean from Learning Visions contacted me earlier, as part of her joining the 31 Days to a Better Blog challenge, brought up a real good point that Facebook communities are a really useful new way of Forum activity and easier to manage and keep up to date with.