I used to think of social media as a means to keep in touch with friends and a source of news articles. I knew that many brands employed social media for marketing purposes, but I never thought some organizations rely on social media to be introduced to the public. As a matter of fact, I didn’t imagine that social media has the capacity to bring together like-minded people to fight challenges until I started working at 1000 Friends of Oregon. 1000 Friends is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing quality of life for Oregonians by building sustainable communities, protecting farmlands and conserving natural resources. Although it was founded in the 1970s, not every Oregonian has heard of its name. One of my goals this summer is to develop a social media guide and help 1000 Friends better manage its social media pages.
After doing some research on the Facebook page, I realized that a lot of event updates are propagated through social media and many petitions were signed on social media. Therefore social media is a main source of support for 1000 Friends. In addition, by reposting news articles that appeal to the audience and adding own standpoints, a page gets to attract and engage followers. Incorporating social media with other tools to send its mission to the public, 1000 Friends can reach people that are passionate about the environmental challenges faced by Oregon but have yet taken actions to advocate for land use. As such, not only does social media connect people with common interests, but it also facilitates discussions and actions through which people participate in influencing the local communities.
Environmental challenges are hard to overcome, and we are fortunate to have nonprofit organizations like 1000 Friends conscientiously fighting for environmentally friendly decisions made by governments and corporations. However, an organization by itself is never enough, and it is supporters standing with an organization that make everything possible. Social media, then, provides a bridge for people to unite with organizations in contributing to environmental issues and therefore larger-scale narratives that affect all of us. I am always amazed by followers’ comments under some posts because of how much they care about the issues. Working at 1000 Friends definitely helps me learn about land use and conservation, but it more importantly reshaped my understanding of social media sites. I now start to pay attention to many other nonprofit pages and read about what they are doing to make changes in their own sector.
I learned from work that a devoted group of followers is just as important as long-term donors to nonprofit organizations. In fact, reactions to social media pages assure organizations with the public attention they have and encourage organizations to keep up the work. It is hard to believe how much clicking a like or sharing a page means to a small nonprofit organization, but we should never hesitate to support a local non-profit with what we can do.