Communicating via Social Media

So, what is ‘social media’?

Social Media is the future of communication, a countless array of internet based tools and platforms that increase and enhance the sharing of information. This new form of media makes the transfer of text, photos, audio, video, and information in general increasingly fluid among internet users. Social Media has relevance not only for regular internet users, but business and charities  as well.

Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin have created online communities where people can share as much or as little personal information as they desire with other members. The result is an enormous amount of information that can be easily shared, searched, promoted, disputed, and created.

Social Bookmarking tools and news sites such as Digg, Delicious, Mixx, and countless others make  finding specific websites increasingly simple by assigning or “tagging” individual sites with searchable key words. Applications that have developed within and around these platforms, websites, and tools are endless in number and functionality, but all make online sharing and searching easier in some fashion.

Guidance on the use of social media in our Club

Many clubs and districts throughout Rotary in Great Britain and Ireland have been establishing their websites over the last few years in order to get their specific messages out to their members as well as the general public. There are also opportunities for clubs to reach out even further using social media.

Websites still play an important role in communicating to current and non-members. Social media can add to this role if it is used correctly.

Is it all about Facebook and Twitter?

Facebook and Twitter are currently the best-known Social Networking sites amongst many, many others. But

social media is much more about the ‘conversation’ referred to above than the basic communication avenues

available through the social networking sites as outlined later in this guidance note.

Rotary GB&I have decided to focus on gaining a presence on the four main social media sites: Facebook, Twitter,

YouTube and Linkedin.

Facebook (

This is an online community with an estimated 750 million worldwide users. Facebook allows you to create your own personal ‘community’ with your friends and acquaintances all over the world. It then allows you to share photos and videos, comments, website links etc. with your friends enabling them to ‘speak’ back to you effectively starting that ‘conversation’.

Facebook can be used by businesses, organisations or key individuals – and again this is where the site has seen massive growth in recent years. Instead of friends – businesses have ‘followers’. 

Facebook currently is responsible for the vast majority of “viral shares” around the world.

Twitter (

Twitter is described as a ‘micro-blogging’ site which like Facebook allows you to follow people or for them to follow you. A comment on twitter is called a ‘tweet’.

The big difference between Twitter and other social networking sites is that users are only allowed 140 characters to share a comment; therefore the message has to be very concise, sharp and concentrated. And although Twitter does allow you to share the same things as Facebook, any links or addresses etc. will utilise a proportion of the 140 character allocation.

One massive advantage of Twitter is that it allows ‘world-wide’ trending which is where a particular topic is effectively tracked to see the online impact it is having at any one time. In order to create a trend, a word or phrase should be preceded by a hashtag # and it will be picked up by Twitter. Providing the hashtag is included within the 140 character comment, then it will not only have the potential to create a trend but will also be searchable and able to be tracked by other users as well. This is why users who are used to tweeting with use cross-media language and place the hashtag word in other social media sites as well. An example of where Rotary GB&I created a hashtag was where the phrase “Rotary End Polio” was generated to coincide with World Polio Day. In Twitter language this because #rotaryendpolio and was used in every post on any social media pages where someone made a comment about Rotary’s role in ending polio.

Twitter has a place particularly where a Club is looking to circulate ongoing updates about an activity or fundraising event. Accompanying an update with a hashtag can have a double impact on a message. For example, posting a comment on your District Twitter feed during your Conference, “President of #Rotary GB&I comments on our role in eradicating polio from the face of the earth #rotaryendpolio #rotary”. This would mean that there is possibility for Rotary GB&I, rotaryendpolio and Rotary to be trended and picked up throughout the world.

Linkedin (

This social media site is much more directed towards the business market and therefore tends to have the lowest take-up in comparison with other social networking sites. This site allows the individual to securely leave substantially more information abouttheir professional and voluntary careers than any of the other sites – and this may be why it is the preferred site of professionals and professional organisations.

Rotary International in the US seems to have selected Linkedin as the site of choice for communicating with Rotarians around the world. This may be due to the fact the site easily allows discussion topics to be created by both the page owner – in this case RI – or by those who have signed up to follow the page, i.e. the world’s Rotarians.

YouTube (

This site is about so much more than funny videos or extracts from television shows. It may surprise many users that YouTube is now the world’s second most popular search engine only falling behind Google.

Rotary International has its own channel on YouTube and therefore Clubs and Districts can download a substantial amount of videos for use at their own respective events. Each video that is uploaded to YouTube also enables the viewer to make comments about its content for others to read as well as having direct links to share the video on many Social Networking sites including Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.

Do I need to sign up to all of them?

The straight answer is no. Each Rotarian, Club and District needs to consider what sites they feel are appropriate for them. However in order to save multiple sign-ups and save time, with a little experience on some of the sites a Facebook and/or Twitter account can be linked to each other – therefore if a post is placed on Facebook it is automatically posted to Twitter etc.

What’s this ‘viral online marketing’?

Because the various social media sites not only allow the posting of comments, they also allow the sharing (forwarding) of information to an individual’s network. Each individual it is shared with can then in turn share it with their own respective network and therefore the message can then become ‘viral’.

Going viral from a social media perspective is a completely different thing from getting a virus on your  computer. Getting a virus on your PC is the bad one, whereas getting your Club message to viral is obviously the good one as it means many, many people are reading and sharing what you’ve produded.

Probably the biggest example of this in recent years would be the viral phenomenon that was the sharing of the YouTube video clip of Susan Boyle on Britain’s Got Talent. Within hours of the network airing of her performance the YouTube hits had reached into the millions. And as a result of her YouTube exposure, re-runs of her performance on a UK Television Talent show were being shown on News Channels across the world literally within a matter of hours.

So, which ones should we use?

That will entirely depend on the outcome that the individual Rotarian, Club or District is looking to achieve.

For example, if the outcome is somewhere to promote what a Club is doing; share videos; create a forum for discussion in addition to the Club website, then perhaps Facebook is the application to be chosen.

But if on the other hand an individual wants to engage with other Rotarians across the world they may wish to sign up to Linkedin, whereas if a Club is looking to send out regular updates on a silent auction, they may wish to choose Twitter.

What about my security?

For many, the issue of security is understandably a consideration when signing up a social networking account or posting comments on another social media site. The rule of thumb is not to share information that you wouldn’t share with someone if you were having a real conversation.

In addition, all social networking sites have suitable account settings which can be set to share a minimum of information even with friends and followers that are known extremely well to the account holder.

If an individual, or Club is signing up to some accounts they should be aware that the default security setting is not necessarily the most secure and therefore may need to be adjusted to meet the individual’s needs.

Some hints for using social media...

Engage with Social Media at a Club and District is here to stay and Rotary needs to be part of it!

Decide whether you need to be part of the whole social media developments going on to compliment your existing website;

If a decision is made to compliment your site, then a decision will be required as to which social networking sites you will adopt;

Make sure you have someone that will be able to update your page on a frequent basis;

Encourage people to follow your page and make comment on what you are posting;

Do not over-post, i.e. do not make too many un-necessary posts otherwise your followers may decide to “un-follow” you;

Be careful when posting Rotary related posts onto non-Rotary friends pages – remember anything you post is effectively a piece of PR for Rotary so has to send out the right message;

Feel free to link good stories, articles and website links on other pages where you think people may find them appropriate;

Follow news and media stories and look for opportunities to post positive Rotary related comments. Additionally, where you find a story that would warrant a comment (particularly in national press and media) you should repost the link on the Rotary GB&I Social Media page so that other Rotarians can also make comments.

Do not post personal information or give out any personal details that you wouldn’t otherwise;

Follow other Rotary related pages and people such as the President’s page, Rotary GB&I, Rotary International etc. as these are regularly updated resulting in ‘hot off the press’ information being supplied;

Remember – social media allows for an immediate PR message, therefore ensure consideration is given to any postings being made with a Rotary message and how it may reflect the individual, the Club, the District or the organisation as a whole;

If in doubt about how to progress with using social media, and require further help, you can visit some of the links contained in this guidance note.

Help in setting up your Facebook page

Help and advice in using Twitter  

Support pages for working with Linkedin

Further Reading...

What is the difference between Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook appeals to people looking to reconnect with old friends and family members or find new friends online; the mashup of features like email, instant messaging, image and video sharing, etc. feels familiar, while Twitter is a bit harder to get your arms around at first. read more...

Colin RobinsonContact Colin Robinson about this page:

(ALL fields required)

(If you are a Rotarian, please name your club.)

Related pages...

Service Above Self


Community & Vocational

more Community & Vocational Service relates to those activities which Rotarians undertake to improve the quality of life in their community and to support local schools.


more The committee’s aim is to raise the awareness and effectiveness of international and world community service provided by Rotarians at both the District & Club level.

Rotary Foundation

more The Rotary Foundation is the very heart of Rotary and celebrated its 100 anniversary in June 2017. We support The Rotary Foundation through donations and taking part in its programmes to ensure we are “Doing Good in the World”.


more Within Rotary we have clubs which cater for a range of age groups beginning with RotaKids for 7-12 year olds, Interact for 12-18 year olds and Rotaract for 18-30 year olds.


more If you think you might like to join us you will be made very welcome at one of our Tuesday meetings.

Communications & PR

more Communication is a way to transmit an idea, message, opinion, information, or facts to create a meaningful picture.

Rotarians can make a difference!

more Rotarians supporting the local community, and having fun.

Hands on to Eradicate Polio

more Rotary International: A Hands-On Effort to Eradicate Polio

back to page above this...

About Us