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by FRANK GAMEZ

Social networking sites are a part of our daily lives-whether you like it or not.

There are 845 million people on Facebook; the world's largest social networking site, and the number is expected to grow to 1 billion this summer. On an average day, there are 300 million tweets shared on Twitter, the world's second most popular social networking site, with 400 million members and growing. YouTube, the world's largest video sharing site, and the world's second largest search engine if you count the number of daily search queries, receives 4 billion views a day-a whopping 1 trillion views a year! The words "tweet" and "social media" have been officially added to the Oxford English Dictionary. When we stop and think about the scale of these websites, it's hard to imagine a world without them. Just a few years ago, these sites didn't exist! And this is just the beginning.

The single most important feature of social networking sites that makes them so popular and successful is that they're free. Social media sites are great tools for spreading a message or organizing events. The Order of the Arrow has grown significantly in the world of social media. They've got 55,000 likes on their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/OABSA, and 1,500 followers on their Twitter: www.twitter.com/OABSA, at the time of writing, and the number is growing rapidly. They have a full-time dedicated staff who update the sites at least once daily. Using social networking sites is a free and effective method of getting the word out. YOU should take advantage of these free tools, too!

Lodges can create an account on a social networking site so they can inform their members of events and update them on any lodge news. A Facebook page and Twitter can be very effective for communicating with large groups of Arrowmen. Lodges can also create an account on YouTube for promotional videos.

Chapters can create an account to update members about chapter meetings, lodge events, and other news. A Facebook group and Twitter are most efficient for medium-sized groups of Arrowmen.

Groups for ceremonies, dance, drum/sing team, or a lodge committee can create an account to communicate internally with their specific audience about meetings, events, and general updates. A Facebook group and Twitter are usually the best for small groups of Arrowmen.

The key to using these social media tools successfully relies on three basic principles: (1) consistency, (2) content, and (3) presentation.

Everything that gets uploaded to the Internet is permanent. Social media sites can gain huge audiences. You must be professional in your presentation: use proper language, spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Think before you post, and monitor your site for any violations.

That being said, once a social media site is set up, it needs to be maintained. You have to post on it regularly or your followers will ignore or, worse, stop following your site. Inversely, you cannot overdo it and flood them with spam just as you cannot go days without posting something. Be consistent and maintain constant contact with your audience!

Your content must be geared toward a specific audience, and every post must be specifically relevant to them. Be clear and concise and share only what is necessary. Try to view your posts from your audience's perspective; make sure each post is clear and easy to understand and, most important, that your message is successfully conveyed in those posts.

But none of these methods work without YOU, the individual Arrowman. With parental permission, you can create an account on a social media site of your choice and connect with your friends and the OA at your local chapter, lodge, section, region, and national level!

The Order of the Arrow is a youth-led organization; however, you cannot dismiss adult supervision while creating a social media page-do not forget to check the rules and policies of the social networking site that you use. Also, make certain that you carefully review and adhere to the Guide to Safe Scouting, the Language of Scouting, and the OA Branding and Style Guide. More information can be found at www.scouting.org/marketing and www.oa-bsa.org.

The guidelines for the Order of the Arrow's Social Media Policy may be found here: Link to the Official OA Social Media Policy

Facebook is a trademark or registered trademark of Facebook, Inc.
Twitter is a trademark or registered trademark of Twitter, Inc.
YouTube is a trademark or registered trademark of YouTube, LLC.
Oxford English Dictionary is a trademark or registered trademark of Oxford University Press.

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