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Social Media for Nonprofit Organizations Workshop

The popularity of social media was apparent today as over 170 people attended a workshop on the topic. Social media is online conversations where individuals are both the audience and author using various online software tools and services. The workshop was called "Nonprofit 2.0: Navigating the Social Media Universe". Craig Simpson attended the workshop. He's a self proclaimed social media strategist. He knows that the idea of navigating on computers is a little bit daunting for some people, but he also says that there's a huge benefit for nonprofits. "It is a little bit different from people, for people, who don't know the web or really know the computer, but you know, if you just sat down there and take some time and look what other people are doing, you an develop an idea of what you're doing. It's easy and honestly for the most part, the best part of nonprofits ... it's free."

Many social media platforms are free, like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Not everyone uses the term free so loosely, like Chris Groves, e-communications manager for the United Way of Central Ohio was a panelist at the workshop:

"There's a lot of work that goes into it social media ... all it is is technology. If you don't use it, if you don't work and put the man hours behind it, you're not going to benefit from it".

For non-profits, utilizing social media is a different way for them to promote their cause and to raise money. However, social media is also best when nonprofits are engaging with their audience. That's what Helen Blowers, the digital strategist director for the Columbus Metropolitan Library says, "it really is about moving into engagement and engaging the members of your community. And enabling them to engage with your brand the way they want to, not the way you want your brand to be engaged with."

Some people wonder if they should jump on the social media bandwagon. It could be a here today, gone tomorrow phenomenon. Blowers thinks nonprofits should just go with the flow and take advantage of these tools. "Facebook, Ning, some of these new social media tools, Twitter, LinkedIn are the tools of today and we have to remain relevant, so it is about being relevant and not worrying about is it gonna be here tomorrow."

The workshop took place at WOSU@COSI. It was hosted by WOSU along with Community Research Partners.

I'm Kim Fox, WOSU News.