Sunday, March 14, 2010

Georgia Writers Association. What the Heck is That?

The Best-kept Secret in Georgia
The Georgia Writers Association has been in existence since 1994, and for most of those sixteen years, the organization has been one of the best-kept secrets in the state. The group was originally established to be a resource and an asset for Georgia writers of all types and levels of accomplishment and to be a source of mutual support for those engaged in the craft of putting words to paper. These are all worthy objectives, but unfortunately, the organization has not always been successful in meeting their mandates.

Website Remodeling
In an attempt to improve the GWA’s efficacy, brand recognition, and track record, a group of graduate students from Kennesaw State University’s Master’s of Arts in Professional Writing program recently embarked upon an initiative to refurbish the web presence of the GWA, primary through the use of online technology and various social media. The first of several steps to this end was the analysis of the Georgia Writer’s Association website by three separate focus groups. The intent was to evaluate the site for usability, functionality, and content. Three separate reports were generated identifying issues and recommendations for their remediation. These suggestions are currently being evaluated, and several have already been implemented.

GWA on Facebook
One of the largest areas identified for potential improvement was in the GWA’s existing Facebook page. Although the page had been in existence for some years, it was rarely used. The group membership hovered around 175, and there was an average of one post per week from all sources.

Two additional administrators were assigned the task of revitalizing this page. Using the principle that steady posts bring traffic, they made a minimum of five posts per day beginning on February 25th. Since that date, over 100 links to websites of interest to writers have been added. Additionally, over 125 photos of GWA member’s book covers have been placed on the page. Invitations to 800 potential members have been sent out, with more being identified and sent daily. Group messaging has been used on several occasions to solicit input from members and to advise members of upcoming events.

Although it is early in the Facebook campaign, the initial results have been encouraging. The group’s membership has climbed to 475 members as of this post’s date. Membership interaction with administrator posts is also on the rise, including an astounding nine interactions from non-administrators on 3/14.

The Tweet Smell of Success
Another opportunity area was Twitter. The GWA had no presence on this platform, but this oversight was rectified on 3/10. Since that time, the GWA has signed up to follow 39 members, has gained 31 followers, and has Tweeted 5 times. This may seem to be a modest beginning, but it is a start, nonetheless. And picking up 31 followers—mostly from the Facebook announcement—is very encouraging.

What About the Blog?
One of the areas that was identified as being crucial to the success of the GWA social media campaign was the revitalization of the organization’s blog. The capacity for hosting an interactive blog is built into the GWA website, and a few posts have been made, but the effort cannot be termed a success at this point. The number and frequency of posts are both issues that will need to be addressed if this blog is to realize its potential as the sounding board for one of the largest and oldest writer’s organizations in the South.

Where Do We Go from Here?
A good start has been made towards the revitalization of the web presence for the Georgia Writers Association. The problem areas have been identified, and the assignments have been made. The ultimate success of the initiative will require the 3 C’s: commitment, consistency, and content. Time will be the judge.


  1. Ray, you have done a great job of posting interesting links for the FB page. Maybe one day I will have time to check out all of them.

    It's nice that we have this resource available. And I love that it's all mostly being done by a collaboration of (mostly?) professional volunteers who have a vested, and perhaps altruistic, interest in the outcome.

    Thanks for your hard work!

  2. I agree that a revitalization was needed and that this is a great start!

    I like keeping up with GWA, but I have found the monthly emails/notices a bit unwieldy. With more options, I can manage that relationship more effectively.

  3. Ray,

    A great job has been done in the revitalization of the GWA facebook page. I think that's going to go a long way in helping GWA market itself. I agree with Montyne's comment about now being able to manage my relationship with the organization more effectively. Some people prefer to check facebook rather than read emails, so the updates continue, GWA's facebook profile could potentially attract a new audience to the organization.