Using social media to build community

The NC Department of Agriculture is encouraging farmers to consider using social media and has pointed to an organization in Raleigh as an example.

The Inter-Faith Food Shuttle, which works closely with vendors at the State Farmers Market to redistribute unwanted fresh produce to local pantries and shelters, used social media.

Before the Food Shuttle began using social media, they were looking for ways to tell their story. “We asked “how can we get this out to folks in a way they will hear the story?”” said Communications Director Jason Boone. The answer became social media.

Now the organization connects with a variety of audiences through Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. “When we started, we weren’t looking at specific targets; we just wanted to tell our story,” Boone said. In the process, the organization has found new partnerships and engaged more fully with its active volunteers.

The new audiences have formed communities of their own around four blogs managed by the nonprofit. Three focus on different program areas of the organization. Another one gives a behind-the-scenes look at the organization, allowing staff and volunteers to tell their stories.

Ultimately, social media is an effective and cost-efficient tool for the nonprofit. It also has added to the popularity of the organization’s Web site. Boone says traffic to the site has doubled since last year, due in part to social media efforts.

To see how the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle tells its story, visit its blogs:

Behind the Scenes at the Food Shuttle Blog : An inside look at the people behind the Food Shuttle
Durham Blog : The stories and events taking place at the Durham Service Center
Farms and Community Gardens Blog : An account of the Farms and Community Gardens Program
Operation Frontline Blog : News and helpful tips from the Operation Frontline courses

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