Tugboat and motor boat in Puget Sound map it

Photo by Dave Heston

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Seattle Communities Online

Seattle Communities Online

Learn How To

Learn How to Choose the Right Tools

You've decided that you want to use an online tool for your neighborhood or community group.  Or maybe you just want to start using social networking for the first time and you're overwhelmed.  What now? 

Check out the links below, which will help you sort through all of your options.

1. What is your capacity now?

Look at your scale.  Where are you on the list?  Where do you want to be?

2. What do you need to do to strengthen your capacity?

Activities to tools worksheet

3. What are some good free and low-cost tools?

Tools at a glance

4. How do I get help?

Tips FAQ Section

Visit Tech Talk Blog

Get help and training

Learn How to Use the Tools Better

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What is social media?
Answer: Social media usually refers to the use of online, low-cost or free social networking tools as a strategy for outreach.

  • User-generated content is a common feature of online social networking tools.
  • Someone using social networking is interacting with other people online.
  • Common examples of social networking tools are Facebook and Twitter.

Question: What tools are neighborhood and community groups already using?
Answer:  Neighborhood groups in Seattle are using all kinds of tools, including blogs, wikis, Facebook, and twitter, as well as non web-based tools like yahoo or google email groups.  See our Web Presence Scale to view a brief summary of Seattle-based online tool use by community and neighborhood groups. 

Question:  My group doesn’t have much (or any!) money to spend on technology.  Can I still use an online tool?
Answer: Yes! Generally, social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter are completely free.  Both Wordpress and Bloggeroffer good, easy-to-use, web-based blogging software – for free!  For more free and low-cost tools, check out Tools at a Glance, and view our curriculum on creating a simple blog [link to Module 2 of the Workshop Curriculum].

Question:  How much time should I plan on spending using online tools for my group?  How many people do I need to help me out?
Answer:  Although the amount of time you should spend using online tools depends on the tool your using and your activities [link to “Activities to Tools” worksheet], a few things are true no matter what:

  • You will need to invest more time up-front.  For example, if you’re creating a blog for the first time, you’ll be spending a lot of time getting it set up, learning how to post and check your comments, etc.  Once you’ve figured all of that out, life will get easier, and you’ll spend your time doing fun stuff like blogging about important neighborhood issues. 
  • Fresh content is very important!  If possible, have others help you create content so the information on your site does not become out-of-date.  If you’ve created a blog, you need to post new information at least once a week or so – that way, your readers will start coming back for new information.  Even if you’re using a traditional website, keeping everything up-to-date is essential to make sure your community views you as a valid, trusted source of information.
  • The more helpers/bloggers, the merrier!  Blogging tools like Wordpress and Blogger allow you to have many users posting to the same blog.  Since these tools are fairly simple to use, having many people posting to your blog means that you’ll have more new and exciting content.  If you worry about making sure you approve of the content, you can create settings that require you to approve posts before they appear on the blog.

Learn How to Get Help & Training

Our Workshop Curriculum

Module - Level 1 (pdf)

Click here for workshop dates and summary

Module - Level 2 (pdf)

Click here for workshop dates and summary


Other Resources