Social Networking: How It Works, compiled by Ardis Bazyn

The last membership focus call was on the topic of social networking and how it works. Several folks on the call had good information about the three main social networking choices used by the members participating on the call. Qwitter-client.net was mentioned as an accessible web site for accessing Twitter. However, it has lots of user choices. The site Easychirp.com is a much easier site to use for blind users, especially when you are just starting with Twitter. In order to use easychirp.com, you must first go to the Twitter site to get your password and login, and then you can login into easychirp.com. The m.twitter.com page does not have graphics that the main Twitter page has.

In order to manage an organizational Twitter account, you only need a separate e-mail address to get your user name and password for your group. Unlike Facebook, your organization group is a stand-alone account and is not joined to your personal account. It also works the same on Mac and PC computers. The creator of the organization account needs to use a new e-mail address for each Twitter account formed.

Missouri made a concerted effort to involve members in Twitter. To get members to follow and use Twitter, they sent out notices about the Twitter account once it was created. Then they sent instructions on how to do it. They also gave an incentive to join. Twitter can be used to tell what local chapters are doing and links to interesting articles can be posted.

Some participants were worried about what the privacy rules of Twitter are and what private information needs to be placed in the profile. The information to be revealed is an e-mail address and a bio that tells about your organization. It should contain the right buzzwords, 160 characters in all. It just requires a minimum amount of info; the e-mail address does not have to be published. The administrator or manager of your account has to choose who you want to validate. If you want a private account, you don't have to accept any followers unless you want them. When you create a name you use a hash tag – the pound sign -- in front of a tag word and should include searchable words. The manager should follow organizations interested in blindness so people can find you. Gretchen Maune from Missouri said members could e-mail her for more information: gmaune@socket.net.

We then discussed Facebook pages and groups. The site m.facebook.com is much easier to use than the regular Facebook site. You can sign up for any group you want from your own personal Facebook page (provided the group is an open group). When you have created pages for organizations or businesses, you can access them when you log on to your site. There will be a list of pages you manage. If you post on the wall for your organization, anyone who has liked your page will get the message.

You can create a group or page for your organization. A group is geared more to your members keeping in touch with one another. If you want to share lots of pictures or information with members and others outside your membership, you should create a page instead. A page will allow you to show more pictures. There is a link where you can e-mail the photos you want to add to your page. In the e-mail, put the tag line for the photo in the subject line and attach the photo. When you update your status, others will get notified. Your organization's page can be created from your own account, and you can add other administrators.

National Braille Press has a book by Anna Dresner telling how to use the most common sites. ACB has no official Facebook page. They are trying to find someone willing to manage one. The manager needs to update the page and place new information onto the site, like convention info. You can create a badge to place in your e-mail or on your web site which would take people to your Facebook page. Creating a badge link isn't very easy. It is a matter of trial and error unless you can get assistance. In Facebook, you can set your group privacy settings as either open or closed group.

LinkedIn is designed for professional interaction and not socializing. Special-interest affiliates might want to have a networking component rather than a social connection. In LinkedIn, you can get recommendations from folks and could find organizations or companies that want to work with one another. LinkedIn is much simpler and works well with speech. If you are looking for a job, connections for a business, or serious networking, LinkedIn works well. RSVA and IVIE are both on LinkedIn.

Plaxo is another networking site that can be used as your personal address book. You can log in to get any address and contact info from the Plaxo web site when you are away from home. You can post a bio about yourself on it as well.

Please add the following membership focus calls to your calendar: Sunday, Jan. 29, 5 p.m. Pacific/8 p.m. Eastern, topic is "Getting Members-at-Large Involved"; April 30, 5:30 p.m. Pacific/8:30 p.m. Eastern, and the topic is "Explaining Special-Interest Affiliates to Members and How They Can Help Attract Members to ACB."