‘Tis the Season for all the family mania. Who’s doing what, when, where and how. Thanksgiving is fast approaching and Christmas will be just around the corner, then New Year’s. Many of you are in the midst of planning where you’ll be spending the Holidays and with whom and for how long. Phone calls, email lists, letters, cards, yadda, yadda. Why not step into this new generation of online communication. Blogs, Forums and Social Networks are ideal for staying in touch, planning and updating family members and friends from across the globe, especially during the Holidays.
Think about it: events happen all the time; times and places are always changing; you often live in different cities, states, countries and continents; and when it comes to keeping in touch, we’re all a bit lazy and avoiding phone calls is a staple of being a part of any family (blood or non-blood related). Not to mention, your phone bills may decrease dramatically. You can love talking on the phone, but there are those certain friends and family members who simply do not. Enter the Internet. Emails are great, but they can get unruly when trying to plan trips, events and so forth. Enter, blogs, forums and networks.
So, here are three options for staying connected with your circle of friends and family during the Holidays and in this digital age:
Start a blog. Go to Wordpress.com or Blogger.com and set up a free one. Post what’s going on, where you are, where you want to be, where you were. Uploads photos and leave the option for your circle of folks to comment on your posts. Also, you have the option of only allowing certain people to view and post to your blog. So, then, all you have to do is send your blog URL to your family members via email. They just click and find themselves in a world of “you” with the opportunity to participate in your life from a distant through commenting to your blog posts, emailing you directly from your blog, and subscribing to your feed. Here you can also make plans for get togethers by commenting on one post and continuing the commenting string until the day of the event. You can also give your friends and family members the option to contribute their own posts (articles) by giving them limited access to your admin area.
Start a forum. Yahoo Groups is a great and free forum for groups to discuss whatever. Go to Groups.Yahoo.com and you’ll be walked through how to start your own online group forum. There you can post messages to the forum, reply to them, upload files and images, create a calendar, create a database, publish a list of links, run polls and see info on the members of the group. It’s great.
Start a network. Well, you don’t have to get a web host, a web programmer, learn design and create one yourself. Try Ning.com. Ning is a great site where you can create your very own social network without knowing a lick of code. If you create a social network with Ning, you will get a URL that reads websitenamehere.ning.com, you can add your own logo, change the colors and layout of the network you created and create groups within the network. You can also upload videos, photos, communicate in 4 other languages, add fun little widgets, add blog posts, run a forum and more.
Depending on the tech aptitude of your circle of family and friends, you should choose which best suits the most people. You’ll never satisfy everyone, so just go by the technology level of most of your immediately family and friends; or the ones you talk to more often.