I have noticed many parallels between the program planning process which I utilize to develop community educational programs and the process used for social media program planning.

When developing a community program I begin with analyzing related demographics and data from past programs, I identify similar services, where they are located and how far they reach, and finally identify gaps where I can engage participants, community partners and colleagues.

Next, in order to design a program that meets the needs of the community it’s necessary to listen to the community. Therefore assessments, surveys, interviews questionnaires etc would be generated to identify what the community and partner needs are related to family services. Through this process I believe awareness and engagement follows.

Such a process is similar in engaging internal and external participants in a social media program. In a previous post, the listening process was explained. I believe during that process and as a result awareness and engagement happens.

In designing a social media program it would be necessary to begin with mapping out the organization and possible contributors to the program. This could include creating an organizational chart and identifying where social media roles would fit.

In an organization such as UW-Extension the lateral network would seem to be appropriate since each department would add expertise, support and information to the social media program. This chart presented to the county Department Head would show the engagement of all departments in the county office. It would then be necessary to present the whole office with education and training of their roles in a social media program.

The next phase of designing the social media program would be to gather information and perspectives on the organization and a social media program both internally and externally. Surveys, questionnaires, interviews and assessments would be used to identify the what, why and how of a social media program. From this data the organization can better understand how to engage the staff and participants.

For instance it may become clear that in a rural community many people do not have access to the internet in their homes through computers but mostly utilize smart phones and the library internet. Therefore it would be necessary to connect with clients appropriately in a way that they can access content simply on their phones and at the library.

Additionally, the organization may understand better what type of content the community is viewing and what venues they are using. If the population is mostly elderly, they may not utilize Facebook as much as a youth population would. Therefore it would be necessary to use a program or software which the target population finds accessible and user friendly.

From the information gathering phase an organization can begin to create an awareness of their organization both internally and externally through the appropriate venues and with content which engages the target population.

The program planning process is intensive and requires attention to details. It may be necessary to assess the internal and external community multiple times to generate a clear snapshot of the social community. Because of the stated, the process requires participation from the entire organization which is why by-in of the internal participants is critical in the beginning phase of the social media program.


1 Comment

  1. Good point about matching the type of media to the target community. I’ve found that income level is another factor to consider. As in a rural setting access to the internet may be problematic.


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