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The internet, and especially social media, are increasingly becoming essential communication and marketing tools for not-for-profit community organisations. They can be a great way for your organisation to promote its cause and services, and to communicate with your community cheaply and quickly.
However, there are risks involved with social media use - especially because of the speed with which information travels on the internet, its global reach, and the lack of control that your organisation has once something goes online.
What is social media?
‘Social media' usually means a website, mobile application or technology that allows users to share and communicate information (‘content') online - either privately or publicly. Examples of social media include:
- social networking sites (such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn)
- information sources (such as wikis)
- video-sharing sites (such as You Tube)
- photo-sharing sites (such as Flickr and Instagram), and
- other sites with user generated content elements (such as news sites which invite customers to post reviews).
There are a range of legal issues your organisation should know about in using different types of social media.
What are the legal issues?
Not-for-profit Law has developed a guide that deals with particular areas of concern for community organisations regarding the use of social media. The Social Media Guide assumes some knowledge of intellectual property laws (copyright, trademarks). If you would like to read more about these laws, we recommend reading Not-for-profit Law's Intellectual Property Guide.
Social media and your organisation
Social media can impact your organisation in many ways. The fact sheet below outlines some key issues for community organisations, and strategies for reducing risk. This fact sheet includes information about:
- the most common forms of social media, Facebook and Twitter
- the risks to your organisation involved with social media use, and
- steps you can take to minimise risks and maximise benefits of using social media.
iTaNGO is a project aimed at giving Victorian community sector organisations the knowledge and resources to get the most out of their information communication technology (ICT) setup.
Play by the Rules provides a range of information and online learning for community sport and recreation groups.
Connecting Up Australia has donated and discounted technology for not-for-profits, as well as other resources.