The case presentations that we had this afternoon and last week supports the proposition that organizations are gradually getting into the new social media world because they identified needs that require them to be there. However, during the discussions, I felt that I need not look further for an example because our home organization, the Organizational Communication Society, of which I am an elected officer, has also been present online for quite some time now.
What led OrComSoc to the realization that it needs to establish concrete digital presence? What are the tools that OrComSoc has used and is using for its online visibility, and are these tools effective? I tried to answer these questions and this is what I came up with.*
OrComSoc’s online presence
OrComSoc being online is mainly being present in social networking platforms to reach out to its members who are increasingly being active in these sites. To reach out, I mean to make announcements, post photos of events, and open possible mechanisms for feedback.
OrComSoc alumni can also be seen as stakeholders, because while they already graduated and ‘left’ OrComSoc, they are still part of the community, sometimes being active in discussions of previous events and new projects. Also, future OrCom students become stakeholders since the OrCom program itself does not have a very concrete online presence (i.e., a website, or even a description at the CAS website), so they will be redirected to OrComSoc sites. I also saw sponsors as secondary stakeholders, because the online records of OrComSoc serve as proof as to how we accomodate our sponsors and fulfill our part in the agreement.
Facebook is our home
As for the tools to connect to our target audiences, the following are where you can find OrComSoc online:
Facebook is our primary tool at present, because almost all of our present members have Facebook accounts. It serves our needs to promote our sponsors, our events, and the organization itself without much hassle and with assurance that members will eventually come across the post.
Our Twitter and Tumblr accounts are recent additions to our list, to accomodate the increasing number of members joining these sites.
Multiply used to be the only OrComSoc site, and it was really updated back then. We still update it somehow, but without the expectation that any of the members will look at the updates. While there are proposals to delete it completely, we have hesitations because when you search for Google about Organizational Communication UP Manila, it appears first on the list.
Scribd is also a recent addition to our sites, and there we publish OrComSoc documents that are worth sharing. Our first document was the OrCom Freshman Primer, and it already appears on Google’s first page when you search for ‘BA OrCom.’
The Webs really looks like a website, so it’s unfortunate that it was not sustained after it was made AY 2008-2009. If I remember it correctly, the password for the account was not passed on to the next set of officers.
As I see it
I mentioned earlier that our efforts are mainly social networking-based because of the need to connect to our stakeholders. The Facebook page serves the purpose of telling alumni that, hey, this could be the place where you can find your batchmates, or showing to sponsors how we adhered to our agreement and did more for them. Also, OrCom majors can find their home in the page and check what are our future projects for them. The whole strategy of being anywhere and everywhere also gives the impression that we’re just around, you can contact us if you need anything from us, through all these tools.
There are also some negative sides to the whole thing. First, some efforts are not sustained like the Webs. The UP Statistical Society has their website in the form of Webs and it’s nice, and I feel that it’ll be good to maintain the Webs because its interface is more like WordPress (blog type plus pages/tabs) than Facebook (wall) – easier to look for what you need without sifting through everything.
Our efforts also seem to have a small following, because officers need to repost announcements and tag everyone to get the message sent to our members, which leads to another critique that our use of SNS is one-way, and we do not really engage the community in conversations and establish relationships with them, which will make them frequent the sites more often.
As we see it
As part of the ExeCom this year, I can say that we really work hard to deliver and at the same time conceptualize activities that will create a relational OrComSoc – an organization that is beyond ad hoc committees and event units. Having said that, we can make use of our SNS to realize this dream. We can engage the community in conversations that are relevant to them. For example, we can ask the seniors how their theses are going, and what advise can the alumni give while their working on their theses. Or, to engage the freshmen, we can talk about our final projects in Span1 and share to them footages that are on Youtube.
Also, I hope that someday, we can work on an OrCom website with a tab leading to an OrComSoc webpage (Summer! Haha!). I believe that OrComSoc is in the position to create a continuing website for the degree program since the organization stays even if the students already leave the University, plus we inherited from the previous batch a ‘system’ of training younger members for the tasks that await them. The OrComSoc webpage will serve as an option for searchers to check only what they want to see, rather than clicking and clicking “See older posts” on Facebook wall. As the website becomes functional, it would be easier to let go of sites that will no longer serve their purpose in the future, like Multiply.
Now, having presented all these, I (we) would love to know how YOU want to see the whole online presence of our organization. It would be good to hear how members, non-members, students of other programs, professors, or just anyone would envision a student organization’s online networks.
* With permission from my co-ExeCom! :]
Edit: Aside from these ones that we have knowledge of and we update, there are still a lot of OrComSoc-related sites out there, which in fact overwhelmed me because I googled after I hit the publish button. Some sites include Friendster and an Ondoy-related effort. Similarly, the problem is on continuity and relevance of these sites up to the present.