Today I watched a webinar hosted by TechSoup that was called “Expand your reach with Flickr and Twitter.” It was moderated by Kami Griffiths from TechSoup, and the presenter was Michaela Hackner. She is the the director of online strategy at World Learning, a U.S. nonprofit that hosts study abroad, international development degree programs and international development projects globally, and she uses Flickr and Twitter to advance the work that she does.
Flickr is a photo (and now video) hosting site that is one of the top 10 most visited websites in the U.S. It allows users to upload photos and share them with whomever they choose. In titling, tagging and captioning photos you can gain exposure for your nonprofit or cause you are trying to advance.
One example Hackner shared of a nonprofit that uses Flickr effectively is Interplast, which is a humanitarian organization that provides free reconstructive surgery for children with clefts, disabling burns and hand injuries. Through Flickr they are able to show their work, and the people who benefit.
The second half of the webinar talked about Twitter, a microblogging/social network site. I heard of Twitter for the first time in March at MCN’s technology conference, but haven’t been enticed to jump in up to this point. This story about downtime makes me glad that I don’t rely on it as a communications tool.
Hackner talked about the basic premise of Twitter: you send text-based updates to people who have signed up to receive them (“followers”), and she considers it similiar to “calling a private helpline.” You can use Twitter to announce an event or link to a website, or for professional development in asking for help on a particular subject.
The difficulty with Twitter is that it’s only as valuable as the network that you have, and it can take time to find people to “follow” and for people to look for you to “lead.” Hackner recommends that at first you connect directly with people, even those you don’t know, until you build a network. But once you have a network, Twitter can be an easy way to share ideas, ask questions and give support.
If you’re interested in the continuation of the conversation, TechSoup has also hosted a Twitter event in its community forums.
Join the conversation: Are you using Flickr, Twitter or other Web 2.0 tools to forward the work of your nonprofit? What has worked and what hasn’t?
– Megan Sullivan, MCF Communications Associate