NOTE: The top sites are listed here. In a few instances the second highest ranking sites are also listed.
1. What happens in an online minute?
Just how fluid is the Internet, here are some stats for you. In one minute online . . .
- There are 30 hours of video uploaded to YouTube
- YouTube has 1.3 million video views
- Google has over 2 million search queries
- Facebook has over 6 million views
- Twitter has about 100,000 new tweets
- 204 million emails are sent
So, you need to choose your social media connection carefully.
2. Where are your girls, troop or group?
Deciding how to communicate online isn’t as easy as choosing which site and options are the best. You need to go where your girls are. If they are heavy users of Twitter, you might want to look at that closer. If they spend their time watching videos, you may want to see how you can use YouTube. Ask your girls, troop or group what social media they use. You may want to create a questionnaire with some of the sites listed below on it.
3. How do they connect?
Do your girls connect with a computer? A smart phone? Tablet? Are they on all the time or only certain times of the day? Add these questions and any others you feel necessary to your questionnaire before giving it to your girls.
Not created equal
Facebook is a social networking site. The more you communicate with someone (through likes, posts, comments, etc.), the higher the rank. If you don’t communicate with someone you have liked, chances are they won’t come up on your wall. Facebook looks at what you do and uses your actions to determine what (or who) goes on your wall. You can set up a private group for sharing private information, notifications and planning. Check out Facebook and see what you can do with groups.
Twitter focuses on instant messaging. Messages are limited to 144 characters. However, if your girls are following many people, they might miss your messages. Your best use for Twitter is for last minute plan changes or reminders. Check out Twitter and explore using this for quick communication.
This is definitely for older girls and adults. It is business-oriented. It links individuals and groups of similar interests. This should be used for professional networking and help.
Pinterest shares images via pins. They can be pinned on boards so similar items can be grouped. You can collect pins and share collections. While this won’t work for direct communication, it does a great job for helping gather information for events, travel, service and other activities you are interested in doing.
For example, if you wanted to run a SWAP event, you could pin the SWAP images that you and your girls are interested in making. Then, allow the girls to each pick one out to present at the event. This way, everyone knows what is happening.
Search for something you are currently working on and see how others are creating board collections to track the things they want to keep together for future planning.
8. Google+ Hangouts.
Google Hangouts is a communication site. It connects groups via video chat or text including the ability to share photos, files and more. This type of site can be used for planning, discussions and meetings. You can record your hangouts and put them on YouTube for reference later.
Skype (www.skype.com) is similar to Google+ Hangouts. Check out these sites and see which works for you.
YouTube is a video sharing site. It is the most used site today and ranks third in search engines. It is a great resource to share information for badge work as well as skill and knowledge acquisition. You can find out how to do almost anything on YouTube. Search YouTube and see if you can find something you’d like to present to your girls there. How can you incorporate what you find into your troop or group? Could you create your own videos of information the girls may need to refer to more than once?
Vimeo (www.vimeo.com) is similar to YouTube so you can check this out as well.
10. Yahoo! Groups.
While there are other group lists, Yahoo! has a large number of Girl Scout groups. Tribes with similar interests come together and help each other. You can create a group for your troop / group and lock it down so only people you invite can see it. I use my groups for email communication, file sharing and sometimes a shared calendar. Join a few groups and see how things work on the site.
Google also has groups you can utilize in a similar fashion (groups.google.com).
11. Blog or site.
You can use a site or blog for information sharing and archiving. Usually, these are open to the world, so be sure you don’t put anything on it that you don’t want others to see. Sites you can place a free blog include:
12. Other possibilities.
The possibilities above are only a small portion of what is out there. There are also new types of sites being created every day. What other social media sites can you use for communicating with your group? You might even look into the possibility of smart phone applications as a way to communicate.
Email is still number one for direct communication and information sharing. You can set up an email list so you can send out an email to multiple people. The email stays until it is read and / or deleted. You have a greater chance to reach your group members. Can you use email for your primary communication and one of the above as a secondary (or tertiary) resource?
14. Create your network.
With your group or troop, create a communication network. Make sure everyone can access it and understand the features you are using. If needed, do a walk-through with your participants.
Sites to Explore