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Many Optimist clubs have not gone online because they do not have anyone who is willing to undertake the project to create a website, a blog or some other web presence.  Most individuals think that it is too complicated, requires advanced web knowledge or is too costly.

That may have been true a few years ago, but with hosted web services, there are many easy-to-use solutions available.

Now, anyone with basic computer skills can create an put their club online using available free hosted web services. The first question is "How do we get started".

What online presence does your club need

Before you can launch into building an online presence, it is important to engage the club members into a discussion to determine what kind of online presence is needed.

Most service clubs exist to deliver service to their communities for a specific purpose.  Optimist clubs, for example, focus on running community service projects focused on local youth, raise funds to sponsor local youth activities and programs and recruit members to run those projects and raise funds.  So when looking at online presence, ask a few questions.  Does your club want their online presence to:
  • explain who you are and what you do? (website, blog, Facebook, Google+)
  • help point out the community service projects you perform? (website, blog, Facebook, Google+)
  • help recruit new members? (website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+)
  • demonstrate how active you are in our local community? (webiste, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+)
  • explain what kind of help your club needs? (website, blog)
  • allow your members to share in fellowship? (Facebook, Google+, Twitter)
  • allow your members to share their volunteer experiences? (Facebook, Google+, Twitter)
  • allow the community you support to comment on your club's activities? (blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+)
  • allow your members to communicate in a secure community to plan projects? (Facebook groups)
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Keeping in mind that Optimist clubs are volunteer organizations, creating and maintaining an web presence will normally be done by a volunteer, usually with little experience and not a lot of spare time to dedicate to the project, let alone learning new technologies.

Whatever presence is created and whatever online services are used, it should focus on the following traits:

  1. It must have value to your Optimist club.  If not, members will not participate or use it.
  2. It must be easy to use so that anyone with average computer skills will be able to manage it.
  3. It should not be excessively time consuming.
  4. It must be no-cost or low-cost.
  5. It should allow and encourage member participation by being engaging and fun.
  6. It should be easy to transfer administrator rights to different club members.
  7. It should use most popular and most recognizable services which will put your club in front of more of the public eye (your target audience).

Get Started

There are hundreds of available of online services.  The trick is to select those services that can be easily combined into a cohesive combination of services that will take the minimum of time to create and maintain.  It is important to remain focused and to select those services that will work best to build an online web presence.

As a guideline, you will probably want to focus on creating an online presence with those services that are easiest to create and configure, and ones that most of the club membership will use.  We suggest the following strategy:
  1. Create a generic email account to use when registering accounts with online services.
  2. Create a website with a blog.
  3. Create a Facebook page for the public and a Facebook Group for club members.
  4. Create a Twitter feed.

Once you have the pieces in place, all you need to do is regularly add new content and ask members to spread the word to their fellow club members, Optimists in other clubs, relatives and friends.

First Steps - Tutorial Series

We will continue this discussion with a series of articles exploring each of these first steps:
  • First Steps - Create a Generic Email Account
  • First Steps - Create a Website & Blog with Weebly.com (coming soon)
  • First Steps - Create a Facebook Page (coming soon)
  • First Steps - Create a Facebook Group (coming soon)
  • First Steps - Create a Twitter Feed (coming Soon)
  • First Steps - Tying it all together (coming soon)

PictureOpt Gord Welling

Optimist Gord has served with the AMS&NW District Web Services Team since 2009.  He has built and managed the District website and a host of other web services for the District.  He also serves as the web master for his club website.  You may have participated one or more of his "Build a club website" workshops at District conferences.

Gord works for an Edmonton-based software development company as the Manager of Customer Services and is also the lead technical writer.

Gord also enjoys volunteering as a Scout Leader and Duke of Edinburgh Awards Group Leader in his home town of St. Albert, AB.


Credits

This article was originally published on the Put Your Club Online blog at Blogger.com and has been revised to include references to Google+ and Twitter.  Our Thanks must go to jscreationzs and Ambro / FreeDigitalPictures.net for the free use of the artwork and digital photo in this article.
 


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