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MPH student and over 50! I need to use social media and feed readers to build a virtual community and get policymakers to read about them.

I'm currently enrolled in a masters degree program in public health. For one course, I am learning about using online strategies to enhance effective community building and community organizing.
My cohorts and I are working with a Center for Assault Treatment Services. It is a non-profit organization that collects forensic evidence and information surrounding crimes against children. The organization is in Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley.
The goal of mine is to find other persons or organizations that are would find this organizations goal to be in synch with their own. While the dialogue and following buildings, I would be reading their comments and commentary in order to see if there is indeed a need for an intervention, service, product, etc.
The ultimate goal of this collaboration of persons or organizations is to attract the attention of key decision makers, policy makers, community principals, leaders, and the like.
Right now I'm following and posting here and there on Twitter. Any suggestions as to where else I might look?

  • Mar 8 2014: Greetings Garrison

    I am very new to the social media scene however, I am currently taking a course on this topic as part of my degree studies. Through research that I have performed I feel comfortable advising you to start with what has become the nexus of social media and that of course is Facebook.

    Recent statistics show that Facebook has an average of 1.23 billion registered website visitors every month. In my opinion, this large body of users will give you the best chance at finding people with like minded goals. In addition there is no fee for service which should be helpful to the financial challenges experienced by non-profit organizations. The onboarding process for a new user is easy and even with the most basic of demographics, the algorithms start churning in an attempt to build your network. The site also allows the creation of "pages" that could give your organization a presence in your community increasing your exposure within the network.

    Of course, you need to be sure you have done your due diligence prior to going live with your content. I would recommend that you spend some time reviewing the Data Use Policy, use of "Cookies" and the Terms of Service. I would also take my time and go through the Security and Privacy settings in the user profile to ensure they are setup correctly to meet your organization’s needs. There is also a fair amount of communication granularity that can be added by setting up Groups and different levels of "Friendship" in your network.

    I realize the ads can be a little disconcerting, but their presence is part of the bargain. I realize this may not tick all your boxes, but it may at least be a way to find and develop those valuable connections you are looking for.

    I wish you success in all of your endeavors!

  • Mar 9 2014: Hi Gary,
    Thanks for the positive input. I have been using Facebook for years, but it has always been for personal use only. For one project (Driving while texting) my classmate and I did create a page that asked that others like it.
    The organization that I am currently following, C.A.T.S., does have a web presence on Facebook. Currently it is pushing the run that it is having in April.
    I have looked for the Center for Healthier Communities (CHC) but could find nothing on Facebook.
    I also want to desperately distance myself from rock artists or websites that are posted in Arabic. These are distractions that divert from the validity of the cause (IMHO)

    Garrison Hack