Last week, I was honored to present a session on using social media to network members at the Youth Business International Global Forum 2010 in Mexico City, Mexico. Keren Shemesh (the Israeli YBI member organization) invited me to speak. YBI is a not-for-profit organization that leads a global network of 40 member organizations that help young people start their own business and create employment. YBI Network members (in 40 countries) receive assistance developing a specific models of supporting entrepreneurs through access to credit, volunteer business mentoring and business start-up support.
The theme of the conference was Harnessing the Power of Networks. The presentation included an overview of social media trends and platforms. It also included an assessment of how network members are using social media channels to recruit new entrepreneurs, solicit loan opportunities, support and recruit new mentors, and create general country awareness of their role in youth entrepreneurship.
Despite the increasing popularity of social media, only seven of the 40 member organizations are currently using social media. (Others are concerned about the time commitment, face the issue of the digital divide, or don’t feel comfortable enough to use it.) The presentation below highlights the best practices and innovations among network members that are using Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter.
A few highlights:
Keren Shemesh (Israel) is using the photos application in Facebook to attract fans and promote its businesses.
Keren Shemesh created two contests using the photo app, which have driven visitors to the website, increased inquiries to the business loan program, and promoted the businesses they support. These are two of the most interesting uses of Facebook photos I’ve seen!
Contest 1: In July, the NGO asked business owners to upload one representative photo to a Facebook photo album, and ask friends to Like their business photo. The photo with the most number of Likes won a prize. The contest resulted in:
- friends exposing friends to the Keren Shemesh Page (peer to peer networking), and increasing number of Page fans
- expanding the Keren Shemesh network
- involving stakeholders in a fun and interesting way on the Page, with a low participation threshold
Contest 2: In August, Keren Shemesh created a photo album as a gift catalog for the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah). During the month before the New Year, Keren Shemesh uploaded a new photo a day from a youth business, including a special offer/discount for shoppers underneath each photo. By keeping up with the album (or viewing it on the wall) fans could take advantage of special offers. Keren Shemesh used this contest to expose its youth businesses to Page fans and viewers, and the businesses could gain new customers.
Youth Business Trinidad and Tobago (YBTT) understands the power of cross-promoting.
YBTT cross-promotes its activities with those of other youth-focused organizations. The YBTT Facebook Group will usually post anything that the Youth Council of Trinidad and Tobago has places on its Facebook Group, and the Youth Council will do the same for YBTT, thus doubling exposure for both organizations. I also want to mention that they have effectively used the Group feature to directly message and invite members to events, plus post events on their Group wall. This has resulted in at least 50% of the attendees at quarterly Business Club meetings coming from the Facebook Group.
The Canadian Youth Business Foundation (CYBF) has positioned its Facebook Page to be the leading space on Facebook talking about youth entrepreneurship in Canada.
At least 50% of the CYBF‘s Facebook posts are now about the organization: helpful information for businesses in Canada, cross-promotes other conferences, and news about seminars and other entrepreneurship organizations. Their social media manager, Rachel Azagury, states that CYBF’s activities on Facebook generate a lot of private communication (“back yard” communication) and inquiries about the program. “Online – Facebook combined with our other social media spaces – is our first or second most popular loan referral source.” On every platform, CYBF positions itself as the organization talking about youth entrepreneurship, not just CYBF activities, becoming a trusted information source and online friend, and the place to go to for information about youth entrepreneurship.
The Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust (PSYBT) is using Linkedin to support mentors and promote knowledge-sharing…leading to cross-recommendations between mentors and businesses owners.
The PSYBT created a private Linkedin Group for mentors and businesses. In a YBI organization, each youth business is assigned a business mentor. Within this Linkedin Group, mentors are answering young business owners’ questions, mentors are supported by discussing mentor issues, and business owners are able to ask questions about business activities (a recent discussion ensued over the best way to make cold sales calls) in a safe and supportive environment. The bonus? Businesses and mentors are beginning to write Linkedin recommendations for each other! Margaret Gibson, of PSYBT, mentions that the participation was slow to develop and it is important to stick with it for at least six months before seeing results.
Are you doing any of these types of activities, or know of other “best practices” and examples of organizations using Linkedin and Twitter? Do you have any comments about the examples above?