By Anne Kjaer Riechert, a 2010-12 Rotary Peace Fellow, International Christian University, for social media week
A while back, during my applied field experience in Silicon Valley as a Rotary Peace Fellow, I was having coffee with a computer scientist friend at Stanford. I had to rather embarrassingly confess to him; “I just don´t get Twitter!” Why would anyone want to follow my life and reflections 140 characters at a time?
My friend explained to me that while Facebook is for friends that are now strangers, Twitter is for strangers that should be your friends. And I finally realized the power of social media is not just in ‘who you know already,’ but in the connection between people who share an interest.
As we saw in the Arab Spring and the Occupy Wall Street movements, one should not underestimate the power of crowds who share a common goal. Social media can be a cost effective and timely tool for Rotary to raise awareness, get people engaged and stay connected. Imagine the impact social media could have on Rotary if it was used as an alternative way to crowdsource money for social projects. What if every club live streamed its meetings, so that members could participate even if they were away on business? What if more Rotarians used online platforms to share ideas and project experiences with other Rotarians around the world? Social media has great potential to reach young people and help ensure Rotary’s future. The possibilities are tremendous.
But you can’t lead if you have no followers. And social media is not the answer to everything. There comes a time for human interaction as well. The challenge, therefore, before Rotary and Rotarians is to learn how to use these tools to lead effectively in the digital age and to know when it is time to “switch off.”
Learn more about Rotary International’s social media sites