Optimizing your local SMC chapter page into a community hub

People ask every day whats the best way to keep your local Social Media Club chapter interconnected now that Ning is on its way out, and rest assured we have a solution thats ready today and only going to improve in the coming weeks and months – the chapter pages on SocialMediaClub.org.

A couple weeks ago we told you how to create a member profile on the Social Media Club website, but the next step for chapter leaders is to optimize your local chapter pages into active community hubs.

To start, check out the Social Media Club New Hampshire page as a reference point.

When we launched the chapter a few months ago, like many of you, we started with a Twitter feed, WordPress blog, Eventbrite pages, Flickr page and Facebook group (which we should have started with a Fan page instead, but thats another matter to curse another time). But as you well know, there's a lot of services to choose from, and we were looking for a way to really tie things together functionally while making it easier for our local members to explore whats going on in social media around the world.

The answer for us has been early-adopting the Social Media Club website, which mind you a couple weeks ago had more than its fair share of bugs. However as more people from around the world have been using it, those bugs have steadily dissappeared and ideas for new improvements have been hatched.

But now lets walk through the process of getting your chapter page optimized:

1. Identify your chapter page administrator

It could be the president, the promotions director or the digital scribe – and it could be all three – but in order to get the ball rolling a chapter must designate an administrator of the page and email kristie [at] socialmediaclub [dot] org. For us to make you an administrator, you already need to have an individual member profile that has joined the local chapter – if you haven't, please again read our recent post on this.

2. Edit Chapter Page Features

Once the administrator has been assigned, we'll send them a confirmation email and thus begins the fun part – customizing your chapter page's features. These options, found suspiciously easily under the tab "Edit," include:

Group Mission

Promotional photo (heads up, for the moment the image has to be 600×150. We know, many of your logos don't come close to those dimensions, but for the moment its a great place for a modified graphic – in NH, we just ripped the logo and part of the banner off our WordPress and it seems to work great)

Facebook Group link and Fan page badge (get badge code directly from Facebook)

Ning badge (which for many of you isn't long for this world, but in the meantime its a great way to make the connection)

Twitter widget (we have a standard color scheme we have been using, all you need to do is use these numbers and it will be beautiful): Shell Background = #056113, Shell Text = #faf7fa, Tweet Background = #faf5fa, Tweet Text = #050405, Links #2207eb.

Flickr widget

Various other customizations from input formats and multiple chapter locations to menu options and file attachments.

So as you can see even at this early stage the website is not hurting for opportunities to compile your different services into one hub. But now comes the next step…

3. Updating Your Chapter Page

You've carved out a nice piece of real estate for your chapters new home, now its time for one heck of a house warming barbecue. You don't throw a party without any furniture though, so populate the page with some more content. 

The page allows you to add your most recent couple blog posts by clicking, once again suspiciously easily, on "Add Blog Post." Don't have a blog yet for your chapter? Here's your opportunity to start.

The same goes for creating an event page – click the button, upload the information just as you would on an Eventbrite page or Facebook event, add a promotional photo, and now not only will your local chapter have the information they need, but chapters around the world can see what you are contributing the community.

4. Invite Your Chapter Community to Engage

Once you have your options set, social media services integrated, and blog and events highlighted, its time to invite the neighbors for the welcoming party by clicking on "Invite Friends." Will the conversion from Ning to SocialMediaClub.org be overnight for your entire community? No – unless you indeed have Jedi community manager skills, which is very possible. What's important, however, is that the conversion is starting.

And once your local chapter is updating their page with all the great programming and content they are contributing, and others join suit, imagine the global community we together will have through which we can collaborate and share – which is after all the point.

If you have any questions or ideas on how we can move forward with this online community site to better serve your needs, let us know – its only through your continued active and passionate engagement that we can develop this to the level you need and deserve.


UPDATED: Added Twitter badge codes on June 10, 2010. /kjw