Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Social Networking for the Geologist

I am always interested in learning new technology, new software, and new ways to communicate with the tools available to us. In this time of instant communication - with mobile Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, and blogs - the ability to provide information, feedback, and share thoughts is astoundingly fast and easy. In my volunteer efforts with the Houston Geological Society, I constantly reflect on what can be done to improve communication within the organization and between the organization and it's very broad membership base.

A website dedicated to an organization obviously has to be the main heartbeat of that organization. Add on email newsletter blasts and you have an instant connection with your member. A Facebook page will connect you with the social networking savvy individuals, so that adds value, although it also adds on redundant effort and disconnect with the membership database that is centralized on the main website. A message board allows individuals to discuss topics of interest, post event information and updated news, and provide information for various opportunities. Private forums can even host behind-the-scenes planning for special committees or user-groups. In the end, these are all valuable contributions to the organization's web-presence. Nothing can replace the main website or the main membership database, but all can add to the group's visibility and distribution of information on the web.

Now enter Twitter. I'm super-curious what Twitter could do for the organization. Not just a particular committee like the NeoGeos, but the HGS as a whole. How many people would follow the largest local geological society? Would it contribute to an increase in membership? Would it increase attendance at the various lunch and dinner meetings? Or short courses? Would non-geology individuals gain something from following the tweets of the HGS? I'm tempted to set it up and try. But I wonder how many of the HGS members, or potential members, are out there twittering??

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