These days it’s hard to find anyone who hasn’t plunged into the social media pool. Even grandparents — against all odds, common sense and social cues — can be found liking, posting, tweeting and updating as part of today’s social media landscape. So it comes as no surprise that community groups are also sharing on social media.
AxisPhilly has tracked 43 community groups from throughout Philadelphia with Twitter accounts to see how they’re using social media and who’s doing it better than others. Here are the groups that top the list for the month of February.
Many of the community groups are non-profits on a limited budget, so social media provides them with effective, inexpensive means to promote their organization.
“We’re an event-driven organization. Most of our funding goes to putting those [events] on so it doesn’t leave us much money to promote the district as a whole,” said Alicia Dietzmann with the Manayunk Development Corporation (@ManayunkDotCom). “We rely on social media heavily to spread the word about Manayunk and keep Manayunk fresh on people’s mind when news and events aren’t happening without spending a million dollars on advertising.”
Of the 43 community groups we tracked, 33 tweeted during the month of February, with most tweeting regularly during that time. Ten have not posted in months, or even years, but several of the active groups have seen an increase in visitors, event participation and community awareness.
Take for example the Twitter handle for the community outreach organization Kensington Renewal (@KenzoRenewal). The group has the greatest number of followers on Twitter of the 43 community organizations we tracked. At the time this article was published it had 12,023 followers, and its tweets totaled 506.
Local filmmaker Jamie Moffett founded Kensington Renewal and tweets for the group. Having a background in social media and film, Moffett knew that social media “was the right way to start sharing a message about an idea in a little neighborhood that most tech-savvy people don’t pay attention to.” Kensington Renewal’s mission is to turn “abandominiums,” as Moffett calls them, into owner-occupied homes. “We want to turn long-term renters into home owners,” he said.
Social media has been extremely helpful in getting the word out about Kensington Renewal’s cause. The organization also promotes and raises awareness about its fundraising efforts on Twitter and other social media sites. Just today, it posted on Twitter about its latest small fundraising campaign. But the fundraising hasn’t always been limited to the organization’s cause. Kensington Renewal has also engaged in social media fundraising for the Port Richmond West neighborhood, he said.
If he were to describe the organization’s social media strategy, although he’s not sure they exactly have one, Moffett said it would be, “listen and talk.”
Michelle Feldman, commercial corridor manager at Frankford Community Development Corporation (@FrankfordCDC), runs the group’s Twitter and Facebook page.
Frankford CDC has been able to leverage its social media use, Feldman noted, into a promising partnership with Flying Kite Media. The group is a part of Flying Kite’s “On the Ground” initiative thanks to its social media activity. Flying Kite is a weekly online magazine focused on telling stories that impact the future of Philadelphia and its suburbs.
“Both Flying Kite and Frankford CDC want to spotlight those positive stories, and encourage folks from throughout the city to visit neighborhoods like Frankford,” Feldman said. “There’s a lot more good — and really interesting — stuff going on than meets the eye.”
According to Feldman, other tangible effects have resulted. In addition to the increase in visitors to the area, Feldman estimated that between Jan. 2 and Feb. 21 the group garnered between 50 and 75 new followers on Twitter, and about 20 new Facebook friends. She emphasized that “these are people who found us,” not the other way around.
Feldman’s pick of poison — or posting — is Facebook. She’s linked the group’s Facebook page to its Twitter account so the updates automatically post to Twitter (FYI: You can do this easily by going to facebook.com/twitter). To find content, Feldman trolls the Internet for Frankford-centric news, stories, events and even job opportunities. This leads to numerous posts a day depending on her discoveries. The group had tweeted the most — 5,769 times — of the 43 groups we tracked.
Feldman said Frankford CDC’s social media strategy is simple. “If you put enough stuff out there people will start to pay attention,” she said. “We want to put stuff out in as many different capacities as we can to keep the momentum that we have going”
For some groups, social media has been key in driving traffic to events. The Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (@PCDC_Events) recently took to Twitter to promote Chinese New Year events, which took place in mid-February throughout Chinatown. Karis Tzeng, programs and projects associate at PCDC, runs the group’s Twitter account and said the site made it easy to post pictures from last year’s event to build interest in this year’s festivities, and to track responses from event goers.
PCDC hopes to be able to hire a communications specialist in the future, said deputy director Rachel Mak, “because [social media has] become such an important part in today’s communications”
AxisPhilly wants to know how your group is using social media to promote its cause. Comment below to let us know how social media is working for you. And be sure to let us know if you’re not on our list of Philly neighborhood groups on Twitter.
See our list of Philadelphia’s Top Twitterhoods