Opening shout-out in this post go to patch.com - the ultimate community social media portal which gives each of you (and me) the opportunity to chime in where we feel necessary and reach out to our neighbors. But ... there are other ways you can leverage social media to support your neighborhood.
1. Find and share content created by your neighbors. Is your borough on Twitter? Retweet them. Is the School District on Facebook? Share the status updates and invite your friends to like their page. These are simple steps you can take to make others aware that the accounts exist and encourage the account holders to use them actively. Benefit: many parents I know comment that they appreciate reminders about school events, activities and other community information.
2. Compile or "curate" content. Create a board on pinterest for your community and share the good stuff. Set up a Twitter list of everyone tweeting from your zip code. Or a Facebook list. Let people subscribe. Take 15 minutes each week to thank folks who share this content and add them to the resources. You don't have to recreate the wheel, just put it in a convenient location.
3. Use social media tools to engage the media. A lot of (almost all) members of the local media user Twitter or Facebook (many both.) Reach out with links that might interest them. Engage them on an occasional basis so that you stand out in the crowd. Find those who live or work near your neighborhood and don't be afraid to pitch a good community story. I have a twitter list you can use as a starting point.
4. Invite bloggers and other social media folks to a community event - organize a bloggers night! This can work for everything from touring a local human services project to a nearby festival or other activity. More details on "Top Ten Pgh Events That Should Add a Blogger Night"
5. Take pictures! People love pictures - on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr, etc. Take pictures of what you love and who you love in your community and share as appropriate. Post photos of scrumptious foods from the fish fry, the smiling faces at the parade, the before/after shots of a community project. Use your cell phone. Use your old school digital camera - you don't have to be an expert. Just willing to invest the time to get people engaged with your neighborhood. With free software like PhotoScape, anyone can create a "meme" or add a festive line of text.
6. When I tweet or Facebook, I generally first check to see if the folks/orgs I'm mentioning have accounts so I can "tag" them ... it takes a few extra minutes, but I've found it a useful way to volunteer my time to support them. I do this for pretty much anyone, but I make a special effort when I want to emphasize how much I love something. Like a good meal or great customer service.
7. I use FourSquare. I try not to check into chain stores, but I do check in to local businesses and make the time to connect my "check-in" with Twitter so they get a shout out. Most of the time, someone likes or retweets or somehow engages me. "I've been meaning to try that place" or "Frank (owner) rocks. Say Hi" types of things. Yelp also offers a similar opportunity as does Get Glue and Facebook.
Your social media time can have an impact on your community. What other suggestions do you have?
Sue Kerr is a Pittsburgh based social worker and social media "support" resource. You can find her: