There is a remarkable gulf between "social activists" using the blogosphere and the "socially active" enjoying social networking sites. With the changes over the last few months Facebook has the tools to bridge the gulf and more effectively reach the college age group. If we put it the tools to work. Below I will outline the relevant Facebook features and how to use them as well as a some examples. The effort is nascent, but hopefully we can begin to use our creativity within Facebook to effectively reach the sizable social network community. For each blogger and blog lurker they are probably over 100 Facebook members. Being able to demonstrate sizeable support from the social graph will get instant attention from the press and enhance fundraising.
In fall 2006 Facebook changed registration requirements and opened its doors to everyone. Then over the Summer of 2007 and into the last few weeks Facebook has implemented a number of features, some well publicized, that can create an ideal way to reach large numbers of people. Currently Facebook has over 50 million active users, with over 100,000 new users registering daily. Facebook users have some unique attributes, they generally spend well over one hour at each login and visit over 35 different Facebook pages each login period. Facebook users are also loath to take a link leaving Facebook. Obviously a large and mostly friendly demographic in which progressive social activists should be willing to participate. And, fortunately Facebook has all the features we need to reach and involve the Facebook community.
So the question is, how to begin. Prior to my recent participation with Pretty Bird Woman House, I felt that almost everyone who was active on-line had a Facebook profile. I learned that is not necessarily so. The first thing is you will need to have a Facebook profile, so register it just takes a few moments. Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg is reportedly an anti-spam fanatic so you will need to use your actual name on your profile. There is a great deal of required consistency in each profile but you can easily edit within Facebook's template alter the functionality of your profile by adding applications. The applications allow to post notes, photos, links, HTML, music, video, likes, etc. Two mouse clicks will add an application. There are now over 11,000 different applications available in the Facebook list. Including a great application named "Causes" which allows you to create a page to present and enable a 501(c)3 organization to receive contributions
Once you have your profile in place and adequately presenting you begin to socially network. Search for friends, easy to find remember they had to register using their name, too.
Groups - Search and join groups. In groups participate in the discussion and forum. Or if one does not exist that seems to meet your direction, begin a group. Example Facebook Group - MoveOn.org
Pages - This is one of the most recent feature additions by Facebook. Pages were created by Facebook to allow businesses and other organizations to present themselves to the Facebook public. While only a few weeks old the features available in Pages were developed with the help of major advertising consultants. Facebook users can become a "Fan" of your Page with just a click. Creating a Page once again uses the familiar Facebook template. Example Facebook Page - MoveOn.org
Applications - More complex but more powerful. Applications are independently created programs that function within Facebook's "shell". To facilitate application development Facebook has created a development library so that a programmer can create a simple application with just a few hours of time. Applications can do almost anything you can imagine, but most of them a pretty simple. Exclusive of art, a reasonable budget for a simple Facebook application at this time is less than a $1,000. Example applications Smack the CEO by Change to Win and LaborStart
So why again is this important? Numbers! Remember Facebook is a social network of over 50 million people. A group or a page or an application with many members/users demonstrates broad interest and support. Imagine if a producer for any of the new and opinion shows could be shown that an issue has the support of over 50,000 Facebook members. And numbers relating to fundraising, the more people you can reach the more options you may have. Facebook apps can even carry paid advertising.
My experience. Through a Daily Kos diary in late November, I became aware of the plight of Pretty Bird Woman House women's shelter I decided to see how I might as part of the Friends of Pretty Bird Woman House raise social network awareness using each of the features I mentioned. The art for each was create by the fabulous Tigana. Please consider yourself invited to join, add and participate in any of them. Comments and questions are also invited.
Friends of Pretty Bird Woman Facebook application. The application has a goal page and steps to take to support Pretty Bird Woman House as well as a No-Cost donation option. If you have a Facebook profile the application will add this to your profile to demonstrate your support of Pretty Bird Woman House and feed traffic to the application.