Social Media Plan for Center for Wooden Boats

WordPress doesn’t seem to have an insert/upload PDF or Word document, so I am pasting the text of the Social Media Plan that Kelly and I have been working on for the CWB in the post below…

SOCIAL MEDIA PLAN: CENTER FOR WOODEN BOATS

Institutional Mission and Goals

    The mission of the Center for Wooden Boats (CWB) is “to serve the people in our [the Seattle] community by providing a gathering place where maritime history comes alive through direct experience and our small craft heritage is enjoyed, preserved, and passed along to future generations.” The CWB’s programs focus on preserving and sharing both the artifacts and the time-tested maritime skills of sailing, paddling, boatbuilding and boat maintenance.

    Target Audience for Social Media Plan

The CWB is seeking to cultivate a deeper relationship with its members and core constituency with an emphasis on its non-youth members. The CWB is interested in using social media to communicate with members and supporters (volunteers, alumni) in a quick and effective way, i.e. to broadcast calls for volunteers or new programs, which could then be further circulated or distributed to individual user networks thereby extending the CWB network. The older generation of CWB members has expressed reluctance to using social technology, though most users are on email and have internet access. The social media plan will seek to cultivate a higher comfort level and familiarity with social technologies, taking into account that most of CWB’s users will be consumers and spectators, versus creators.

Resources & Restrictions

    Given staffing constraints at CWB, the recommended platform and plan must take an average of no more than four hours a week to maintain; CWB requires a platform that can easily self-maintain itself. Currently, the individuals who manage the organization’s Twitter, Flickr, and Facebook accounts are volunteers who will ending their terms at CWB in June and August 2009. The social media plan must be simple enough to accommodate high staff turnover and varying levels of experience and expertise with social technology.

    Startup Need: Blog

Step 1.) Select a blog platform
There are both no-cost and with-cost options for blog hosting. WordPress, Blogger are free; TypePad is a fee-based service with options to allow you to host the blog on your own website or use their hosting service. Below we have summarized these top options and provided resources so that staff can choose which platform would be most appropriate for CWB.

Resources on weighing blog platforms
http://www.techsoup.org/learningcenter/webbuilding/page5516.cfm
http://royal.pingdom.com/2009/01/15/the-blog-platforms-of-choice-among-the-top-100-blogs/
http://www.bloggingbasics101.com/2009/01/choosing-a-blogging-platform/

Step 2.) Develop Identity and Content
Meet to define identity and voice of blog, as well as staff protocols for use, and to brainstorm possible staff contributors. Determine guidelines and ground rules for user-generated stories and content submitted to forums – i.e. word count, content parameters, style, etc. Size and formatting, tagging guidelines to spec for video/photos.

Step 3.) Integrating existing social media
The CWB already uses YouTube, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter which can all be pulled into the blog (YouTube videos can be incorporated into posts, you can blog directly from Flickr and twitter feeds can be incorporated into the blogspace or comment space, buttons leading to Facebook and Twitter pages).

Step 4.) Maintenance and evaluation
Site meter or Google Analytics can analyze visitors, most visited pages, and other information. Comments streams and online conversations could be qualitatively analyzed for concordance with CWB mission and goals. Blog maintenance needs include:

• Comments monitoring
• Once a week entry on the blog w/ rotating authors
• Reading/visiting other boating enthusiast blogs/forums and contributing to these online communities by making comments
• Guest bloggers of interest (would need to develop protocols for posting)
• Twitter, Facebook, YouTube – watching these sites for content that could be cross-posted to the blog
• Cross-posting content to associated FB account

Start-up Needs: Forum

This would be a means for CWB visitors to have open discussion on museum programs and opportunities, as well as the common maritime interests that bring them together.

Example of successful forums for these purposes
Port Townsend Wooden Boat Foundation Forum: http://www.woodenboat.com/forum/

Step 1.) Create Platform
We suggest the open source software site http://www.phpbb.com/ as an easy way to set up a public forum. According to the PHPBB site, the cost of a forum is free, but some monthly costs ($6.95) may be incurred for tech support or for a domain host.

Step 2.) Decide on Content
Possible discussion board areas could be devoted to

• The CWB’s historic boats
• Finding sailing/boating partners
• Sail Now graduates
• Visitor oral histories
• Discussion of CWB historic oral histories
• Volunteer discussion/recruitment
• Buying/Selling/Trading/Bartering of materials, resources and skills

Step 3.) Maintenance and evaluation
In terms of management, the forum would need to be monitored weekly for spam, abusive comments, and site-appropriate content, which would require a greater time commitment for maintenance.

We recommend the following steps to minimize the amount of spam or objectionable material

• All users must be registered members, the CWB would have the ability to approve or reject any individual before their account is activated.
• Use of simple verification systems like Captcha http://www.captcha.net/ to avert automated spamming accounts
• Regular staff participation in forum discussion, so that as administrators they will each be able to remove any problem content and moderate any issues.

Forum participation and membership are easily kept track of in PHPBB forums. A more qualitative analysis could be undertaken after a period of time, likely no sooner than 6 months to a year. At this point you could evaluate your membership to see if you are getting increased site visitation, rich conversation/comments to evaluate if CWB is moving in the direction in which it wishes to go.

Simple forum polls could be used throughout the development process to gage success in terms of CWB goals for forum interaction and to get easy feedback about new features/topics. For instance forum members could be solicited for feedback on whether their participation in these social technologies has influenced or increased their real time spent at CWB, engaged in CWB programs or activities. (i.e. finding a sailing partner)

Promotion Plan

    The technology/blog can be promoted from a link on the CWB website, as well as the http://www.atlakeunionpark.org websites, existing Facebook site, e-newsletter. We recommend adding the address to the signature lines of staff emails, and to future print marketing pieces.

    We also recommend outreach to existing non-CWB boating and museum forums where the CWB forum could be promoted. Staff members would need to spend some time participating on non-CWB forums, posting comments. This would also be useful for other CWB staff people to begin to engage with to become better “social media citizens.”

    Recommendations for Possible Internships to Further Social Media Plan
    • Internship editing oral history video for YouTube/blog content
    • Social Media Intern/Museology Practicum for monitoring content and forums
    (10 hrs a week)

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