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A local community (a congregation) has a problem: while we have email lists for announcements (not discussion), more and more often people organizing activities fail to use them. They figure that putting an announcement on Facebook is good enough -- after all, they know from comments or likes (or actual reservations for events) that they're reaching people. However, we have community members who don't use Facebook, and those people are feeling excluded because organizers don't also send email announcements.

There is a web site that's usually kept up to date, so information is available -- but of course people need to go and look for it. I've tried to explain "push" versus "pull" approaches to information dissemination, but I don't think I've gotten through yet.

I'm one of the more technically savvy members of the organization, but even if the people in charge of communications were willing to give up that job, I don't really want to take over. What I want is to find some way to raise consciousness, to help the people who disseminate information to care more about reaching everybody using the channels that people have already signed up for (email, and we have infrequent paper newsletters for stuff that's not time-sensitive). How can I, as a member but not someone in charge of anything, bring about this cultural change?

I'm one of the more technically savvy members, but I don't think I'm good enough to write a website scraper that harvests changes and sends email about them. I think I need a social solution here, not a technical one.

  • What about Doodle? – Zerotime Jan 22 '16 at 11:53
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    @Zerotime Doodle, AFAIK, is for finding times that work for groups of people; our problem is information dissemination. But, more broadly, our problem is that people are not using the tools that are already in place, the ones people already agreed to use. They're not saying that email doesn't work; they're just... not bothering, or something. A subset of people are elsewhere and they figure that mentioning it there is good enough. It's kind of like announcing something at a meeting (that some people miss) and not announcing it any other way -- some miss out and feel alienated. – Monica Cellio Jan 22 '16 at 13:46
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Can you assign someone the task of being the email-newsletter person? Ask this person to like the Facebook page, follow the right people on Twitter, Instagram, whatever, like the channel on YouTube and whenever anyone posts anything in any of those places, send out an email blast.

The blast would ideally:

  • include the source in the subject line (so subscribers who follow that source can skip the email)
  • include all the relevant information (pictures, times, names, phone numbers) in the body, so subscribers who don't follow that source will get all they need
  • include a way for attendees or other email-reactors to demonstrate to the event-source that they found out through email. Eg they can email the organizer to register since they aren't going to click Attending on Facebook. This will show the event-source the value of other communication techniques.
  • include a link to the specific item and the more general channel/page/account so that people who want to start following that source can
  • close with boilerplate instructions about how to unsubscribe from the list and how to tell the email-newsletter-person about another source to start monitoring.

This would be a very valuable and connected volunteer position, yet relatively easy for someone who is already following and liking all the right things.

  • Oh, that's very clever -- especially the part about the feedback loop, so people posting only on social media become more aware of everybody else. – Monica Cellio Jan 27 '16 at 15:23
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There is a technological solution you can use that doesn't involve any coding, though it does still require human interaction.

On various social media platforms is it possible to link your account to accounts on other platforms. For example I have my Twitter and Facebook accounts linked so that everything I post on Twitter also appears on Facebook.

If you create an account on each platform that's linked to all the others (either directly or in a chain) then all you need is for the person (or people) running the account to post the message on one site and have it automatically propagate to the others. If this account is the one that your members would follow anyway then people won't be put off by the thought of "having" to follow duplicate accounts.

Obviously if anyone else posts anything that needs sharing the social media people will have to re-Tweet, share (or what ever it is that kicks off the process).

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You just gave the perfect example of the technology-behavior gap that exists between generations and people of different backgrounds. Non technology users barely read email, older technology savvy folks depend on Facebook, and the kids in the youth group only want to use Snapchat or Instagram.

The truth is that everyone has their favorite ways to communicate as well as receive information.

An example I can think of is when I was part of a community recreation group that did well via a website, advertising events on Craigslist, and with email and snail mail newsletters. Eventually we migrated to Facebook. Then we found ourselves stagnant in growth because new people in town started going to Meetup.com to find new places to hang out.

Your congregation's communications can't just be a single secretary typing a news bulletin distributed on Sunday anymore. It sounds like your congregation has done a good job of maintaining a website, and even an email newsletter. You are correct that people who think Facebook is an effective communications medium are both missing a lot of people, and don't understand that Facebook has drastically limited the ability to reach people in the case of group pages.

You should consider making your communications position a committee, with a clear call to action that any official function of the congregation needs to have a blurb sent to the communications committee for promotion. If a large number of the members seem only to want to communicate via Facebook, then perhaps one of the communication committee members should have the role of looking for posts and then cross promoting them through the various channels. So when Mabel wants to announce the theme of her monthly fruit pie club meeting, she should post the announcement to the Church's Facebook page. The communications committee member should keep an eye out for members' postings and then propagate the communication accordingly.

This craziness of communication will continue to shift, so the communications committee will probably want to get in the habit of adding new blood every couple of years, especially with people who have new ideas about communicating.

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