Get Involved Online! Plug into the Social Networks and Grow your Campaign!

Courtney Lang August 10, 2009

One of the best tools for building awareness, steering committee members, a volunteer base, and event turn out is social networking. We need to create our own media to build a buzz around Fair Trade Town campaigns in our communities. We strongly recommend that all local campaigns tap into online social networking.

The first step is to start a Blogspot page. This is a very simple page where campaigns can post updates, meeting/event announcements, and content aimed at raising awareness and sharing the message of fair trade and its stories. A number of our local campaigns are currently utilizing Blogspot and have gained a lot from it. There are a lot of ways to enhance these pages too, which we will provide information on in a future post.

Now that you have your main content location, the next step is to drive traffic to it. As there is not much point to content without an audience, it is essential to have a strategy to develop one. These drivers are easy to develop by building a presence on Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter.

On Facebook we recommend setting up a fan page as opposed to a group page. Fan pages can be linked to each other for networking and allow you to send messages to your members in a more direct way. MySpace is a little less confusing as you just create a profile for your group the same way you would for an individual. By creating these accounts you are then able to invite friends and family and request that they pass the recommendation on to their friends. This can become a quick way to build an audience. Combining these platforms with a Twitter account is an ideal strategy to driving people to your blog site. Most “Tweets” (messages sent on twitter) and updates on Facebook and MySpace, are nothing more than a few words and a link to a website.

Other key sites to register accounts on are YouTube and Flickr. These sites are locations to store the photos and videos of your events and activities. They are other links to provide to your audience through Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter.

These sites are relatively easy to set up and to manage, and best of all they are free! Please feel free to contact the National Coordinator if you would like any assistance or guidance in doing so. As we all become more active through these outstanding organizing tools we will show you how to link them to the national website, as well as to each others’ sites. We will be able to share and draw on each others’ content and posts which will reduce our workload as individual committees as well as send a strong, consistent message to the public. What will result will be an echo effect online that has the potential to help grow our movement far and wide!

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Courtney Lang, National Organizer | Fair Trade Campaigns

Courtney Lang brings over 5 years of community organizing to Fair Trade Towns USA, building both the Local Food and Fair Trade networks in Vermont. As Local Food Coordinator with City Market/Onion River Cooperative, Courtney worked with local producers, institutions and consumers to grow the local food system and organize a strategic model for community engagement through farm tours, workshops, and local food challenges. Like many in the Fair Trade industry, Courtney was inspired to take action in Fair Trade when she witnessed child-labor first hand in Costa Rica. As a founding member of Fair Trade Burlington, she has worked with economic development organizations, businesses, and consumers to build awareness of Fair Trade among Vermonters. She also worked with a Fair Trade USA licensee, Vermont Coffee Company, as Friend Ambassador where she united the story of Fair Trade to every purchase of coffee.